Piaget's new Altiplano watches are a natural evolution for this Swiss watch maker that made a name for itself in the 1960's and 70's with its daring use of exotic stone dials. The new Altiplano Stone Dial watches are all numbered editions and directly inspired by the original pieces that made their mark some fifty years ago.
Piaget's earlier stone dial watches were made possible thanks to the house's clever way with wafer-thin movements. The famous ultra-thin mechanical hand-wound 9P calibre, presented in 1957 was a mere 2 mm thick, and three years later, the house launched the Calibre 12P, the world's thinnest automatic movement at just 2.3 mm high.
Having a slim movement meant room for a thicker dial and by 1964 Piaget was offering an array of 30 different hard stone dials that resonated with the non-conformist trends of the 60's during a period of new freedom in music, fashion and arts. The arrival of gemologist and watchmaker, Yves Piaget to the firm in 1967 marked a new direction for Piaget, keen to be not just the watchmaker but also the jeweller to the international jet-set, he created products to appeal to a new generation of wealthy luxury consumers. Piaget stone dials soon became all the rage and favoured by the most glamorous women of the day including Jackie Kennedy - her's was a jade dial - and Elizabeth Taylor who had a tuquoise and onyx watch with a matching necklace.
The 34mm and 38 mm versions are powered by the manual-winding 430P movement, an evolution of the legendary 9P calibre. Measuring a mere just 2.1 mm thick, it is one of the thinnest calibres in its category and leaves ample room for the stone dials. The mini 24 mm version has a practical quartz Calibre 690P. These newcomers are available in three variants of gold: white, pink-red or yellow. Fitted with either black straps in alligator leather or in satin for the smaller models. To further personalise your watch, you can choose either a plain polished bezel or have it set with gems of your choice.
For all their apparent simplicity, these watches represent a mastery of both mechanics and stone cutting. Each dial must be cut to precise dimensions - a challenging task given the varying frailty of the stones - but thanks to these variants, no two dials are ever the same. The different stones used in this new collection include the serene blue of turqouise, the night-sky richness of lapis lazuli, the energetic green of malachite and the enigmatic fire of a ruby slice. The mysterious watery blue-green opal dials can't fail to catch the eye while the mossy green jade is imbued with significance in Asian cultures.
By merging an iconic seventies design with up to date technology and skilled craftsmanship, Piaget brings a fresh look to a much loved favourite that is sure to stand out from the crowd.