Hands-On With Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon – The World’s Thinnest Tourbillon Watch

Piaget undercuts the competition by nearly a half with their newest record-breaking watch.


There are lots of brands that people talked about at Watches & Wonders Geneva, one of them that people talked about a lot was Piaget, which is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. You may know Piaget as a maker of extremely thin watches, in fact, it’s something they’ve been doing for decades. However, they’ve been having a bit of a hard time with it at the moment thanks to several innovations from their competitors at Bulgari and also from Richard Mille. You may have seen the news that broke just before Watches & Wonders Geneva began that Bulgari released the Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC, the world’s thinnest mechanical watch at just 1.70mm thick.

However, Piaget is not just responding, they are making a statement with the Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch. Its case, measuring 41.5mm x 2mm, is a testament to the creativity of Piaget’s engineers. It’s so thin that it’s almost ethereal, challenging the limits of what a watch can be. It’s a design that demands attention and intrigue.

To achieve this technical feat, Piaget revolutionised its design and manufacturing processes again and received no less than 9 patents for its work. In fact, the folks at Piaget have a history of turning watchmaking on its head in order to make a slimmer piece, just like they did with the 2020 Altiplano Ultimate Concept (which was 2mm thick as well but without a tourbillon) and the 2014 Altiplano 900-P which, at just 3.65mm thick, was the world’s thinnest watch at the time. Oh, how times have changed.

Anyway, despite its thinness it’s still a totally usable watch. Well, nearly totally usable. The crown is tucked inside the case and must be pulled out and twisted in order to wind the watch and set the time. It’s a little fiddly to do by hand, so Piaget also supplies a special tool to pull out the crown and wind it safely (it also winds the watch much more quickly than you could with your sausage fingers). I happen to know it’s fiddly as I tried to set the time on it and got asked not to do that almost immediately.

Yes, so, once you’ve got it wound and set it’s totally usable. The 41.5mm diameter means it looks good on the wrist although the strap Piaget had on it at the time was too short for me to fasten. That wasn’t deliberate by the folks at Piaget; plenty of people were able to strap it on their wrist and try it for size. It’s nothing like the original Altiplano Ultimate Concept’s 2018 reveal where they were concerned the watch could bend if worn incorrectly. The strap is also extremely thin, though, at around 1.5mm thick, it still feels durable.

The case is a PVD-treated cobalt blue which is very eye-catching in person. To achieve its remarkable thickness, the case of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon is also the baseplate for the movement, but Piaget still had to work hard to make everything thinner. For instance, the tourbillon cage uses ball bearings instead of a traditional pivot, which makes it thinner and also allows for a sapphire crystal opening which is also remarkable. Piaget also squeezed a 40-hour power reserve out of the movement, despite the tourbillon cage sapping an extra 20%.

Is this the most usable watch in the world? No, not at all. Although its svelte profile makes it very unlikely to be bashed into a doorframe, clumsy people like me would still find a way, and I’m not sure how the 0.2mm thick (approx) sapphire crystal would hold up. It’s also ungodly expensive, I don’t have the exact figure to hand but it’s north of CHF600,000 (Hodinkee reports that the non-tourbillon version of this watch is a much more affordable $400,000+). You really are paying more for less with this one. And yet, I’m glad it exists and that Piaget is back in the ultra-thin saddle. The previous ‘world’s thinnest tourbillon’ watch was Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon which is an “unwearable” 3.95mm thick. So yeah, Piaget’s undercut the competition by nearly a half. It’s neat, and if I had unlimited money, I’d buy it.