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Piaget - The Hidden Face Of The Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Piaget The Hidden Face Of The Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Presented in a version ready for commercial production at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2020, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept is the result of a grand labour. What secrets lie behind the world's thinnest mechanical watch? Chabi Nouri, CEO of Piaget, shares the answer.

The official launch of the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept, the thinnest watch (2mm thick) in the world, during Watches & Wonders Geneva 2020, gave WorldTempus the opportunity to catch up with Piaget CEO Chabi Nouri. With an academic background in economics, earning her master’s degree from the University of Fribourg, combined with experience with several multinational companies, Chabi Nouri joined Piaget in 2014 at the head of marketing and sales for Switzerland and Austria. Three years ago, in 2017, she took over the reins of the watch and jewellery maison. In between steering the company through a global health crisis and representing Piaget leadership during the industry’s first all-digital horology salon, Chabi Nouri found a few minutes to chat with us on the videoconferencing application du jour, Zoom, and answer some of our questions.

The Hidden Face Of The Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Chabi Nouri © Piaget

The Altiplano Ultimate Concept was launched lately, in a complicated context. Will the method of digital communication that we’re currently using (due to the global health situation) influence the way that Piaget continues to reach people in the future? How will communication in the luxury industry evolve as a result of what we’re going through now?
I don’t think we can say that the maison Piaget did not adapt rapidly to change, or to different methods of customer outreach. For example, we were the first brand in our category to start e-commerce activities in 2012, and to have a presence on Chinese media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo. Presenting our novelties virtually is not a simple task, but we have to do it, and the digital platform of Watches & Wonders Geneva has had great success. Working within a young company that has grown up adopting digital technology means that we embrace these changes. Today, we adapt ourselves to the way that our clients live — which is also the way that we live, which makes this evolution much more simple. We recently launched our first flagship boutique on Tmall, and this shows our willingness to adapt.

Piaget announced the Altiplano Ultimate Concept in 2018, and as the name suggests, it was presented as a concept watch. In 2020, this concept has been transformed into an actual production timepiece. What was the biggest challenge faced on the path from concept to reality?
This watch was already fully functional when we presented it as a concept watch, therefore it was not truly a concept-only timepiece; it was a working piece. What we wanted to do in these last two years was above all to enable the Altiplano Ultimate Concept to pass all the tests of daily wear. We worked equally on aspects such as ergonomy, something that required two years of further research and development; we had to channel a lot of effort into making the production and assembly process more reliable, because assembling something that contains 170 components which are thinner than a hair is not exactly straightforward. The most significant changes that we made to the watch are invisible to the naked eye, essentially concerning the elements related to the ergonomy of the case, improving the robustness of the interior parts… we worked also on the crown so that it would be easier to manipulate. We have a patent on this crown, which telescopes and needs to be pulled clear of the case when in use. We provide the owner of the watch with a tool that allows him or her to wind the watch ten times faster than by hand.

The Hidden Face Of The Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Altiplano Ultimate Concept © Piaget

The heritage of Piaget is based on watches with ultra-thin movements, most notably the calibres 12P and 9P, which were record-breaking in their time. Today, however, the brand is also known for jewellery and jewellery watches. Why has Piaget decided to concentrate so strongly on an extra-thin mechanical movement? What was Piaget’s motivation regarding the creation of the thinnest movement in the world?
We were motivated by the same thing that has motivated this company for over 145 years — the desire to push the limits of horology, to innovate. Such innovation has always been in the service of design. We always wanted, above all, to work on design and, as a result, to achieve this design, we had to work on the thinness of our movements. At the end of the day, all the innovations and all the records that we have broken in the field of extra-thin movements were always the fruit borne of liberating the creativity of the brand. Piaget is extraordinary; it started as a producer of movements and movement components, but it very quickly integrated other areas of savoir-faire. It’s true that we have worked as much on extra-thin movements as we have on mechanically audacious movements or gem-set movements. We rapidly incorporated jewellery savoir-faire, which we paired with watchmaking savoir-faire; this reflects the unique and distinctive profile of Piaget. This combination of expertises allowed the brand to be a reference in precious timepieces, which clearly depends on movements that are very thin, very audacious — very Piaget.

The Hidden Face Of The Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Altiplano Ultimate Concept © Piaget

Why do you think ultra-flat movements are used more in men's models than in women's timepieces? Does the female clientele attach less importance to mechanical excellence?
Women's models at Piaget have always been extra-flat: all our historic watches and recent watches are worked with a design that allows them to show their slimness and to fit snugly around the wrist. Whether for men or women, we have always worked on integrating the wristwatch case and being close to the customer's wrist.

Concerning women's interest in mechanics and movement, the answer is "yes" — women are becoming more and more interested in it. I think that women, like men, are interested in the savoir-faire behind it. It's true that watchmaking savoir-faire is being better and better explained and, as a result, interest is growing among both men and women. More generally, even the younger generations today want to understand what makes a timepiece distinctive, what it brings, its role between heritage and innovation.

La face cachée de l’Altiplano Ultimate Concept

Altiplano Ultimate Concept © Piaget

Would it be possible to place the calibre of the Altiplano Ultimate Concept (Piaget 900P-UC) in a women's watch?
Absolutely, yes. When we created this watch, during the first four years of development, we quickly realised that merging the case and movement would allow us to make other designs. From that realisation came the 900P and 910P movements, which were also integrated into women's watches. So, yes, absolutely.

What position does the Altiplano Ultimate Concept occupy within Piaget’s men's collections?
It is clearly in the leading position of Piaget offerings. Within the Altiplano line, we have a very wide range of products, which really represents the different skills of the company. The Altiplano Ultimate Concept has a very important role, allowing us to continue to build on the historic expertise of the company. It also allows us to show the innovative side of Piaget, innovation which subsequently becomes part of our heritage. We are therefore trying to continue building the future tradition of Piaget. In designing the Altiplano Ultimate Concept, which is a technical and aesthetic feat that has enabled us to push back the limits, we learned a lot that we have and will apply to other watches.


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One hundred and forty years’ worth of uninterrupted history have allowed Piaget to forge its unique jewellery and watchmaking expertise. The Brand is a genuine Fine Watchmaking manufacture that brings together the art of ultraflat technology and the finest jewel-setting, characterised by its undyingly elegant and refined aesthetics.

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