The Piaget Altiplano Skeleton watch with caliber 1200S (Ref G0A37132, $60,000) is a watch that I’ve desired to own from the moment I set eyes on it. It does not take long to appreciate the beauty of this resolutely modern, ultra-thin skeleton watch. A watch which also happens to be a “record holder” in not one but two categories — the world’s thinnest automatic skeleton movement (2.4mm) and the world’s thinnest automatic skeleton watch (5.34mm). In this personal editorial, I will walk-through the finer details of the ultra-thin Altiplano Skeleton with Piaget Caliber 1200S — and tell you why I find this watch so compelling.
When it was first introduced in 2012, the Altiplano Skeleton 1200S was offered solely in a white gold, 38mm case with black accents. New for 2013, the Altiplano Skeleton 1200S is now offered in red gold (still 38mm) with ruthenium coated bridges. As well, a full diamond-set model was also announced for 2013, thus giving collectors a trio of aesthetics to choose from.
Although the red gold/ruthenium combo has a very warm and impactful appearance, I much prefer the white gold model with black components. And though it epitomizes Piaget’s gem-setting and jewelery expertise, the diamond-set model is, well, a bit extravagant for my tastes. Though I must say that who else — I say who else (!) — is able to gem-set an ultra-thin caliber as adeptly as this (even functional components)?! It is an impressive feat and demonstrative of the true talent within Piaget. But I digress.
As for the caliber 1200S itself, well, there is much to love. A derivative of the Caliber 1200P, it is Piaget’s first ultra-thin self-winding skeleton and the 20th (yes 20th!) Piaget ultra-thin movement. It’s 2.4mm ultra-thinness is just the beginning. What really appeals to me about this caliber is the contemporary skeleton work and the superb finishing.
The skeleton work is incredible, both from front and back. For starters, there is the perfect revealing of the black platinum-micro rotor – on the back side yes, but more importantly on the dial side, where the “Piaget” engraving is the only such lettering on the front of the watch. Outstanding!
The curves of the hand-beveled bridges are graceful and such that you know that they represent modernity, and also that intense time and talent was involved in their creation.
Hand drawing of the beautiful balance bridge
Hand bevelling of the mainplate
Caliber 1200S Assembly (barrel bridge and the going-train bridge)
Also there is the secret signature, the Piaget “P” on the regulating piece which sits over the balance wheel. A subtle, but appreciable detail.
And lastly, the icing on the cake for me — black screws on the plate and bridges, which perfectly accompany the aforementioned blackened platinum rotor which is on its backside engraved with the Piaget coat of arms. Just as blue screws are often seen to represent the essence of traditional watchmaking, the black screws of the 1200S represent the contemporary in this piece.
Now that I’ve lauded the Altiplano Skeleton 1200S on its own merits, let’s consider against another choice from the Altiplano family. Indeed, when considering other options within the Altiplano range, connoisseurs would do well to consider the Altiplano Skeleton 838S (offered in both white gold (Ref G0A33115, $50,000), red gold with black PVD caliber (Ref G0A34116, $50,000) and yes, diamond-set (Ref G0A35117, $93,000)). Until the introduction of the 1200S, the the caliber 838S (first introduced in 2008) was the only skeleton caliber offered in the current Altiplano range.
As you may have surmised, there is for me no hesitation when it comes to choosing the 1200S over the 838S; it is not even close. In all fairness, the comparison is not entirely apples-to-apples, but it is as close as one will get when selecting from the Altiplano range. Admittedly, the Altiplano Skeleton with caliber 838S is a gorgeous wristwatch. Though unlike the platinum micro-rotor powered 1200S, the 838S is a hand-wound caliber. For me the matter of hand-wound vs. automatic caliber is one purely of personal preference; the real “decider” here is the case size. Specifically, the case diameter-to-caliber diameter ratio, of which I find the 1200S to be more optimal.
As depicted here, I much prefer the proportions of the the Altiplano Skeleton 1200 relative to that of the Altiplano Skeleton 838.
Summing It Up
I will close with stating what is now perhaps obvious — the Altiplano Skeleton 1200S, Ref G0A37132, is for me a perfect watch. Particularly as far as contemporary and ultra-thin are concerned. Like-minded watch lovers would do well to give it serious consideration.