Piaget takes its engineering to new heights – and widths – with the Altiplano 38mm 900P, the world’s thinnest timepiece

Horophiles and students of the Seventies jet set know Piaget as the house that brought you the Polo, the first watch to offer a bracelet integrated with the case. It demonstrated an ability to combine technical sophistication with aesthetic elegance that finds its most celebrated form in the brand’s Altiplano range of ultra-thin watches, originally launched in 1957.

Piaget holds many records in this category, including the world’s slimmest tourbillon and an equally razor-thin minute repeater. Now, to celebrate its 140th anniversary, Piaget has beaten its own record to produce the world’s thinnest mechanical watch, the 3.65mm-thick Altiplano 38mm 900P.

It’s an astonishing feat of engineering and design, as the radically redesigned movement is incorporated into both the dial layout and case back (which forms the movement’s base plate and houses all the major mechanical parts).

Form most definitely follows function, and in the most striking yet un-esoteric way imaginable. A tribute to the collaborative efforts of designers and engineers alike, certainly, and one that has delivered an almost poetic coincidence: Altiplano, meaning “High Plain”, takes its name from South America’s 1,500km-long heart of the Andes, and has an average altitude of 3,650m. But it was only at the end of its three-year development that technicians realised, at 3.65mm, the latest, slimmest model paid a perfectly divisible tribute to its namesake.

How much thinner? Piaget says it has produced the thinnest watch ever using available materials. So what’s next? One day, synthetics could deliver the strength required to shave off more from parts currently measuring a mere 0.12mm thick.

Piaget Altiplano 38mm 900P, £20,600. piaget.com