It came as no surprise to see the Piaget booth at SIHH 2017 dominated by Altiplano watches—and that’s because this year is the 60th anniversary of the super-thin, super-elegant watches that have adorned the wrists of both men and women.
The slimness of the now-iconic Altiplano collection comes from the incredibly thin movement that rests within the case. It was in 1957 that Valentin Piaget first revolutionised the watchmaking industry with his ultra-thin 9P manual-winding movement, which he presented at the Basel watch fair (SIHH hadn’t yet been established). The watch was an instant hit, but just three years later, the founder’s grandson disrupted the legend of the 9P with his very own 12P, a movement measuring only 2.3mm in thickness but with the added ability of a self-winding construction.
So how do you celebrate a watch that has been around for the past 60 years? By perpetuating its legacy and ensuring it will live on for another 60 years (and beyond). And that is exactly what Piaget has done by unveiling two new models of the Altiplano that they are calling the new classics. The Altiplano Manual-Winding 38mm (G0A42107) and Altiplano Self-Winding 43mm (G0A42105) are both elegant watches clad in the historical Piaget blue, but with the addition of a very nostalgic crosshair dial.
Additionally, Piaget has added a brilliant variety of colours to the Altiplano line, including pink, grey and a very provocative green. Pushing the collection further, there are references with hard stone dials and a high-jewellery tourbillon along with another watch that boasts an intricate feather marquetry dial.
Altiplano Self-Winding 43mm
Although there is a manual winding 38mm variant that harks back to the first Altiplano watch, which was also manually wound, the Altiplano Self-Winding 43mm will probably be the watch to drive this collection into the future. Firstly, the 43mm fits the current trend of larger watch cases, but more importantly, it is the automatic winding of the Calibre 1200P that will make it a great option for everyday wear. Even with the larger case size, the watch remains incredibly thin, making it perfect to slip under the cuff of a suit, which is probably why so many Hollywood stars choose to wear the Altiplano on the red carpet.
Altiplano 40mm Patinated Dial in Green
This may be a controversial colour choice for Piaget and it does seem a bit loud when you first see it. But a closer examination reveals the combination of a green dial with gradient shades and a gleaming yellow-gold case really gives it a look like no other. The case is 40mm in diameter and the movement is the manufacture-developed 1203P that adds a date complication as well.
Piaget Altiplano Natural Turquoise
The avenue of a thinner movement gives Piaget more options when it comes to the choice of dials that they have at their disposal. This watch offers a turquoise one that is crafted from the natural hard stone. The style of dial first gained popularity back in the ’60s, and for the 60th anniversary, Piaget decided to revisit the trend. In the past, the brand also worked with ruby, malachite, lapis lazuli, jade, tiger’s eye, coral and onyx to produce some truly interesting jewellery pieces.
Altiplano Tourbillon High Jewellery
Sitting at the top of this year’s Altiplano collection is the Altiplano Tourbillon High Jewellery that beats to the rhythm of the complication for the first time in the collection’s history. Accentuating the brand’s capabilities in innovation and creative interpretation of the finest horological complications, the 670P ultra-thin mechanical manual-winding tourbillon movement was developed specifically to fit inside the thin case. Adding touches of craftsmanship to this technically brilliant watch, the flinqué enamel dial was born from the virtuosity of master artisans capable of manually creating a guilloché pattern on gold, before delicately coating it with layers of transparent enamel.
“Ryan Reynolds delights audiences around the world with a blend of elegance and charisma. His remarkable and daring on-screen performances paired with his magnetic good looks have earned him a place as one of Hollywood’s leading men,” explains Philippe Léopold-Metzger, Piaget CEO. “Like Piaget, he fearlessly brings creativity to his art, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the Piaget family.”
Reynolds is as versatile a leading man as they come. Although the Canadian-born actor has mastered comedy like his first major breakthrough in the 2002 cult classic National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, and more recently, the anti-hero blockbuster Deadpool, he isn’t afraid to take on more challenging roles like the independent drama Buried (2010).
Reynolds says he has known about Piaget since he was a kid and his love for the brand stems from the fact that it exemplifies craftsmanship, elegance and creativity—qualities that mean a great deal to him.
This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Malaysia's The Big Watch Book 2017.