Paiget - From ultra-thin movements to skeleton watches

Posted by Carol Besler on Apr 29, 2015 2:05:18 PM

Piaget’s illustrious heritage as a developer of ultra-thin watch movements extends naturally to the art of skeletonization. The company has created 27 ultra-thin calibers over the years, 15 of which have set world records for being the slimmest in their category. This art of refining movements to their basic format extends to the artistry of the skeletonized movement, in which all but the most essential components are cut out and then finished, decorated and sometimes gem-set, resulting in a spectacular view into the heart of mechanical watchmaking.

The process of skeletonizing movements is a highly skilled craft, involving carving away the bridges and plates to the bare essentials, eliminating much of the metal, and then finishing and engraving the rest. The trick to creating skeleton watches is the same as creating ultra-thin watches: to reduce the amount of metal without making them unstable, something that is vastly more difficult than it sounds. Reduce the size of one wheel and you must follow suit with nearly every other component in the movement. Reduce it by too much and you risk breakage or instability. In some cases, components are miniaturized. Achieving this kind of reduction while maintaining stability and reliability can only be achieved through experience, since even with precise calculations, there is a degree of trial and error involved. This is why Piaget’s mastery in creating ultra-thin movements makes it ideally poised to perfect the art of skeletonization.

The automatic 1200S is the world’s thinnest automatic skeleton movement, at only 2.40 mm thick. It has been engraved and decorated, and the oscillating weight is made of black platinum. It is housed in the Altiplano Ultra-thin Skeleton which, at 5.34 mm thick, is the world’s thinnest automatic skeleton watch.

Piaget has seven skeleton movements. This breaks down into three skeletonized calibers – 600S, 838S and 1200S; there is a diamond version of each of these – 600D, 838D and 1200D; and there is one enamel skeleton, 1200E, a very limited edition piece in which enamel is painstakingly applied to the mainplate.

The automatic 1200S is the world’s thinnest automatic skeleton movement, at only 2.40 mm thick. It has been engraved and decorated, and the oscillating weight is made of black platinum. It is housed in the Altiplano Ultra-thin Skeleton which, at 5.34 mm thick, is the world’s thinnest automatic skeleton watch.

In 2013, Piaget took the 1200S to the next level by setting it with diamonds in Caliber 1200D, the first gem-set automatic skeleton movement made by the company and the thinnest of its kind. It is set with 259 diamonds and 11 black sapphires. Some of the gear wheels, such as the jumper cover, are only 0.69 mm thick, and are gem-set. The Altiplano watch in which it is cased is further set with more than 400 diamonds on the case, bezel, crown and buckle.

The 600S is the world’s thinnest hand-wound shaped tourbillon. The bridges and mainplate are open worked and then adorned with a guilloche? motif. A sunburst guilloche? pattern radiates out from the center of the carriage. A power-reserve indicator appears directly on the mainplate at 6 o’clock. It is housed in the Emperador.

The 600S is the world’s thinnest hand-wound shaped tourbillon. The bridges and mainplate are open worked and then adorned with a guilloche? motif. A sunburst guilloche? pattern radiates out from the center of the carriage. A power-reserve indicator appears directly on the mainplate at 6 o’clock. It is housed in the Emperador.

The 600D is the gem-set version of the 600S. It is adorned with 160 diamonds and seven sapphires. It is cased in an edition of the Emperador that is set with about 180 diamonds on the case, bezel, buckle and crown.

The Caliber 1270S drives the Emperador Coussin Skeleton, an automatic tourbillon; an inverted movement with the rotor, which is blackened, showing on the front rather than the back. There is also a spectacular diamond version (1270D) that is fully set with 71 baguette and 56 round diamonds, including the rotor. This movement took three years to develop, and it takes 47 hours to produce one.

The bridges and mainplate of the hand-wound Caliber 838S are subtly decorated with 60 guilloche? lines, evoking the division of time and measuring just 2.7 mm thick. It is housed in the Altiplano Skeleton 40 mm and contains the Caliber 838S.

The Caliber 838D is skeletonized and set on the 18k white gold bridges with 219 diamonds. The mainplate is set with 174 diamonds, and the screws are hidden with seven black sapphires. It is housed in the Altiplano Ultra-Thin Skeleton watch, which is set with another 216 diamonds.

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