Introducing New Brand Alto And Their First Watch – The Art 01

Giorgetto Giugiaro didn't design this piece, but it's kind of made to look like he did.


The 1970s may have started 50 years ago, but they’re still alive in the memories of many folks. That means the nostalgia lives on, and so do the ideas, designs, and themes from that era. In 2024, a new brand, ALTO, appeared just after the excitement of Watches & Wonders Geneva, and it brings with it a new design language for wristwatches.

Born in Paris, ALTO is an acronym for Art and Limited Time objects, so I suspect we won’t be seeing these watches in huge numbers in the future. ALTO was founded by Thibaud Guittard who has previously worked for Audemars Piguet as the marketing manager for the French market. His inspiration for ALTO and their new watch, the ART 01, can be found in a wide variety of names from obvious influences like design legend Giorgetto Giugaro to more obscure ones like Daft Punk and Christopher Nolan. While those last two don’t design things specifically, Guittard sees how their art forms relate to time in a poetic way, although I’m personally waiting for the silver and gold limited edition models to come out before I pass judgment on that.

The new ART 01 piece combines 1970s design with modern design and manufacturing techniques. For instance, the sapphire crystal over the dial has two 17-degree angles on the outside but is curved on the inside so as to provide a clearer view; ALTO says it took over 300 hours of work to get this just right. The wedge-shaped case is made of grade 5 titanium and measures around 41mm wide, and all of the brushing and polishing is done entirely by hand.

The unique dial is also made of grade 5 titanium and is hand-made. The hexagonal geometry of the dial supposedly utilises light and shadows to make a unique appearance, although as I haven’t seen the watch in person, I can’t comment on how much it does that. I love that the dial hasn’t been interrupted by any complications or even any writing; the branding is instead pushed to the dial’s edge.

Of course, watches like this don’t grow on trees, and it’s plain easy to see that this is something much more significant than any overseas factory churning out the same watch with a different brand name on could muster. 

Indeed, the calibre A01 is made for ALTO by Les Cercle des Horlogers, which also works alongside watchmakers like Speake-Marin, Trilobe, Armin Strom and was involved in the recently-released Hermès Duc Attelé watch. For the A01, the appearance is chic and modern, combined with a bit of industrial flair. The black background has been grained, while the dark bridges appear to have brushing and chamfering applied. The brushed silvery wheels and micro-rotor stand out further, and a crystal similar to the one on the front covers it all and adds more visual intrigue. This movement has a 4Hz beat rate and a 48-hour power reserve.

Is the world ready for a new watch which takes old 1970s design themes and lifts them into the present day? I think so, and while the watch is limited to just 25 examples currently, it’s a lot less pricey than I was expecting, although at €19,100 before VAT, it’ll still need to work hard to compete with the established market.