A few weeks ago, there was a Piaget exhibition at The Hourglass in Sydney, and I popped around to take a look. This is a brand for which I have an abiding fondness born of having a father who was a huge admirer of their very popular thin dress watches in the 1970s, though their thin calibres had been around since the 1950s. In his view, if you wanted to go ‘thin’, there was only Piaget.
In recent times, size and heft have dominated, and thin watches have been flying under the radar, worn by traditionalists and those who simply don’t like to wear bulky watches. Piaget has, to a degree, gone with this trend, but perhaps the new Altiplano 43 will be the watch that draws these ‘large watch’ wearers in.
Some of the timepieces on show were in Australia for the first time, including the Limelight Love Letter watch worn by actress and singer Denise Ho at the 68th Venice Film Festival, and the very elegant white gold Altiplano 43, which is both the world’s thinnest automatic and the largest ultra-thin watch, at a mere 5.25mm in thickness.
The Altiplano line is arguably the heart and soul of Piaget’s watches. The 43 houses the 1208P calibre, which is 2.35mm thick. Yes it looks big, and there’s no hiding it, despite its thinness, but this is a gorgeous classy dress watch, and it doesn’t scream “look at me”.
For me, the Limelight Love Letter was the surprise of this exhibition. This is Piaget bringing its jewellery credentials to the fore, with an 18k white gold diamond envelope that opens, via a ruby cabochon, into a ‘secret’ mother-of-pearl dialled watch. An engraved message can also be included on the inside ‘fold’ of the envelope, if it is given as a gift. The watch itself features the Piaget 56P quartz movement, but for me, this is very much a piece of jewellery rather than a watch.
What surprised me was that I hadn’t expected to like this piece, but I did. There was something enchanting about it. I am not one for watches with diamonds, nor are diamond bedecked pieces of whimsy the things which appeal to me most. My tendency is towards watches that are functional and low key, and the Altiplano is more my type of watch. In spite of this, somehow Piaget have managed to come up not only with this jewellery watch that I was quite drawn to, but also the only women’s watch in recent years that I have fallen for, the Tropical Seas Altiplano. Luminescent coral dial in a white gold case and the Piaget Caliber 430P manual movement. I love this watch.