Piaget, the brand best known for creating ultra-thin mechanical timepieces will be back again at SIHH this year, to unveil – not surprisingly – yet another ultra-thin mechanical timepiece. Of course, there a few minor details that set this particular piece apart from any that have come before it. Say for example the mind-blowing fact that the new Emperador Coussin Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater not only houses the world’s slimmest mechanical minute repeater movement, it is also the world’s slimmest timepiece at just 9.4mm thick.
The Minute Repeater complication is renowned for its high level of difficulty and the successful construction of one is often seen as the test of a true master watchmaker. The process presents many challenges, not least of which are getting the pitch and audibility of the repeater mechanism just right. Add to this the fact that the talented individuals at Piaget were working with a movement that is just 4.8mm thick, and you can quickly see how extremely complex the whole process becomes.
Recognizing this, Piaget dedicated a team of engineers (6 in total) to the development of the in-house 1290P movement that powers the Ultra Thin Minute Repeater. This project alone took over three years from start to finish, and threw up more than its fair challenges along the way, not least of which was the question of how you ensure sound quality in such a thin case.
It is only fitting therefore that the fruits of their labor have been put on display front and centre. Comprised of 407 components, the beautifully skeletonized movement can be viewed in all its glorious detail through the sapphire dial. Using a variety of finishing techniques, Piaget’s skilled artisans have paid homage to this incredible technical achievement; sunburst satin brushed and guilloche mainplate hand-bevelled and hand-drawn with a file, sunburst or circular satin brushed steel components hand- bevelled and hand-drawn with a file, blackened and polished screws.
Of course this special attention to detail is not just limited to the front of the movement. On the reverse side of the watch the sapphire exhibition case-back reveals further visual delights; circular Côtes-de-Genève, bridges hand-bevelled and hand-drawn with a file, sunburst satin brushed wheels, a pink gold-toned platinum oscillating weight engraved with the Piaget coat-of-arms, pink gold and rhodium plated polished screws, the list goes on and on.
Presented on a brown alligator strap complete with 18K pink gold folding clasp, official pricing will be announced later this month at SIHH.
The Final Word
As technological capabilities continue to advance at a blistering rate it seems the creations of the future will only be limited by our imaginations. Undoubtedly some purists out there will take issue with the fact that this latest record-breaking piece from Piaget was created by a team of engineers using highly sophisticated software programs (as opposed to a watchmaker using the relatively basic tools at his disposal and simple ingenuity – a view I must admit I share to a degree) this is still nevertheless a notable achievement.
It does beg the question though, where to from here? Or, to steal a line from the fashion world, how thin, is too thin?