Watches & Wonders 2020: The Best New Watches From Piaget To Vacheron Constantin
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
It took two years for Piaget to take what was an experimental timepiece to commercial viability. First showcased at SIHH 2018, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept was the thinnest mechanical watch ever at only 2mm thick. That's the equivalent of two credit cards stacked on top of each other.
Now that it's available for purchase, let’s recall how Piaget, which has an enviable history in ultra-thin watches, achieved this latest feat without compromising the integrity of the watch.
First, since gold is too fragile at this level of thinness, the watchmaker had to engineer a new material, a cobalt-based alloy that is two times stronger than gold. Second, almost every internal part has to be miniaturised—the wheels, for example, shrunk from 0.20mm to only 0.12mm thick.
The mainspring barrel has also been redesigned so that it's mounted on a ceramic ball-bearing. Meanwhile, the crown takes the form of a flat, telescopic system that snugly fits the case band.
Don’t be fooled by its wafer-thin appearance though: it has enough strength to withstand the G-force of a jet.
A Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
Debuted five years ago, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater has the distinction of being the first minute repeater to be complemented with jumping numerals indicating the hour and the minute via two large windows.
It boasts several other unique features: a) the minute repeater is activated with a pusher, not a slide; b) the striking mechanism sounds 10-minute intervals instead of the more common 15 minutes; c) it has a constant-force escapement to ensure a consistent amount of force is delivered for better rate stability.
This year, this remarkable high complication is available for the first time in white gold (previously the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater came only in platinum) with a deep blue dial, and is limited to 30 pieces.
Laurent Ferrier Grand Sport Tourbillon
Inspired by Laurent Ferrier's love of sport, the Grand Sport Tourbillon's cushion-shaped case in stainless steel is paired with an integrated bracelet, which is a first for the brand. The case is satin-finished, while the bracelet boasts a mix of satin- and mirror-polishing for a more robust appearance. An opaline dial is matched with indexes and hands in a funky orange Super-LumiNova.
The brand is known for its understated luxury, which explains why the Grand Sport's spotlight-hogging tourbillon is discreetly visible only via the open caseback. It’s the same movement that powers the Classic Tourbillon, which won the Best Men’s Watch at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve (GPHG) in 2010. Limited to 12 pieces.
See also: Sincere Fine Watches Hosts Watchmaking Masterclass For Laurent Ferrier’s Kuala Lumpur Launch
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
This classic perpetual calendar by Vacheron Constantin is crafted for the very first time in 18-karat pink gold with a blue lacquered dial. Super sporty while simultaneously elegant, exquisite details include a sunburst satin finish on the dial, a snailed decoration on the counters and, last but not least, bracelet links that recall the Swiss manufacture’s Maltese cross logo.
Beating within is the manufacture's 1120 QP/1 Calibre that measures a mere 4.05mm for an overall watch height of only 8.1mm. Impressive!
See also: Vacheron Constantin Charms The Ladies With Égérie