Piaget unveils a unique Altiplano Ultimate Concept (AUC), a beacon of technology and design which pays tribute to the first "beats" of this ground-breaking timepiece. This one-of-a-kind watch follows last years' release of the AUC with a green dial in reference to La Côte-aux-Fées, where it all started.
The Altiplano Ultimate Concept (AUC) started as an idea, a vision, a dream. Not everyone believed it was possible, but the philosophy at Piaget has always been to always push the limits, to always challenge what exists, and as Valentin Piaget always like to say,"to do what has never been done before." Piaget’s engineers, watchmakers, and designers continued to search for solutions to make the dream come true and after four years of research and development, on February 7th, 2017 at 7:47 am, the AUC took its first "beat".
The Journey So Far
The creation of ultra-thin timepieces has been part of Piaget's know-how since the very beginning. The Maison's founder, George Edouard Piaget, was supplying famous watch brands with ultra-thin watch components as early as 1874, an expertise that brought him respect and recognition in the watchmaking community in the Jura Mountains - the birth of Swiss watchmaking - and far beyond.
In 1957, the Maison introduced the world’s thinnest mechanical movement, the Calibre 9P that measured a mere 2mm in height. The 9P was the start of a series of record breaking ultra-thin movements, including the 12P in 1960, the 1200P and the 1208P in 2010, and the ground-breaking 900P in 2014. Obtaining world records, has never been the driving force at Piaget, it has always been about the quest for uttermost elegance.
The AUC Story
The AUC was first presented in Geneva at the Watches & Wonders fair in 2018 to huge acclaim from the watch community and the world's press. Only two years later, Piaget made it reliable for everyday wear. In April 2020 the first timepiece left the Piaget workshops for the big wide world, and in November of the same year, the timepiece won the prestigious Aiguille d'Or prize from the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève. Since then, collectors all over the world have been enjoying this feat of micro-mechanical engineering that remains one of the world’s thinnest timepieces today.
A Feat of Technology
Most timepieces are made up of four layers: 1) the bezel and crystal, 2) the dial and hands, 3) the movement, and 4) the case back. Piaget removed this four-layer construction to create a fusion of components with the bridges, dial, and hands, on one side, and the case back, movement, main plate and bezel on the other, all coming together as one. This fusion of watchmaking construction features five patents that have enabled the Maison to create a timepiece that is a mere 2mm in height, from the underside of the caseback to the top of the sapphire crystal.
An Horological Adventure
The new AUC unique piece is a celebration of the AUC adventure with several stylistic details that recall this incredible journey. Starting at the top of the dial, the Piaget logo is in a historic font that is the same typeface used in the logo above the manufacture in La Côte-aux-Fées, the village where Piaget was born and remains today. Two enlarged circles sit among the dots of the minute ring, marking the time - 7:47 - when the AUC first came to life. At 2:30, the birthday of the AUC - 7th February 2017, is inscribed in a small window. And a "La Côte-aux-Fées" inscription has also been engraved onto the ratchet wheel along with the manufacture’s GPS coordinates. Completing the tribute, the background of the dial features stars illuminated with Super-LumiNova that replicate the sky above La Côte-aux-Fées at the exact date and time of the AUC's birth.
The Piaget AUC Unique Piece comes in a 41mm case made of a cobalt-based high-tech alloy. This bold choice of material is in perfect harmony with the dark slate blue PVD base plate that has been sandblasted. The caseback, bezel and lugs have all been satin brushed making a nice contrast to the case band that is polished. The timepiece is paired with an extremely thin dark blue alligator strap that does not exceed 1.5mm, in keeping with the watch's ultra-thin design. The timepiece comes with a power reserve of 40 hours and is a spectacular fusion of horological elements.
This one-of-a-kind timepiece, with its design that honours La Côte-aux-Fées and the very first beat of the AUC, attests to the Maison's legitimacy and inventiveness in pushing the limits of creativity and refinement where design and technology become one.
Piaget's Limelight Gala High Jewellery and Limelight Gala Precious step into the light, ready to begin their sparkling and illuminating journey on the wrists of their future owners. Both creations attest to Piaget's longstanding excellence and identity in the world of jewellery watches.
Limelight Gala High Jewellery
The iconic Limelight Gala wristwatch becomes a work of high jewellery art in this new Limelight Gala High Jewellery edition with its radiant design and audacious mix of different diamond cuts. Brilliant, baguette, and marquise-cut gem cuts capture and reflect the light in different ways for the ultimate sparkle.
The Marquise Cut
The Marquise cut is perhaps the most important in terms of Piaget's design codes. As legend has it, France’s King Louis XV requested a diamond to be cut in honour of the smile of his beloved Marquise de Pompadour. This new cut allowed the light to shine from the centre of the gemstone, giving it a unique brilliance. Radiance being so dear to Piaget, this unique cut became a signature for the Maison and graces many of its creations. From the very first Haute Joaillerie patrimony collections to the extravagant jewellery watches created in the 1960s, and many of Piaget's contemporary creations today, the Marquise cut remains a favourite of the Maison.
The Art of Stone Setting
The Limelight Gala High Jewellery timepiece is so much more than a jewellery watch, it is the result of decades of experience of goldsmithing and gem-setting at the highest level. Over 175 hours of high jewellery expertise are needed to complete just one timepiece with over 250 diamonds coming into play. Crafted from 18-karat white gold, the case and the fully integrated and articulated, diamond-set bracelet hug the wrist like a second skin. The mix of diamond cuts is combined with a medley of setting techniques that give the timepiece its resolutely modern appeal. Over 250 diamonds are meticulously positioned using a claw setting for the marquise-cut diamonds, a snow setting on the dial, a channel setting for the baguette-cut diamonds, and a grain setting for the brilliant-cut diamonds on the bracelet.
Stone setting is an art that gives life to a jewel by adorning it with gems. The jeweller will do everything to highlight the brilliance of the gemstone, its colour, and its unique beauty. This art is considered the most demanding operation of the goldsmith's work, requiring a very special type of expertise and years of experience that is both technical and highly artistic.
To create the perfect setting, the gem-setter adjusts and fixes each stone, sublimating its beauty, while preserving the harmony of the design to allow the stones to shine. The choice of setting will be made depending on the functionality of the setting and the aesthetic design. The type of gem, its fragility, its transparency, its cut, and its size are also all chosen carefully for maximum effect.
At Piaget, in the "Atelier de l'Extraordinaire", where the High Jewellery creations are set, the Maison’s gem setters are constantly experimenting with new ideas, following the Maison's motto to "Always do better than necessary", especially when trying different types of settings that will reflect the light in different ways.
The Limelight Gala Precious
The Limelight Gala Precious is a work of radiance, intensity, and vibrancy. It highlights a malachite dial framed with a beautifully coloured gradient setting of tsavorites and diamonds on the asymmetrical bezel. Piaget has the highest selection criteria for its malachite dials. Each semi-precious stone has to be deeply coloured and feature a regular grain with contrasts, possess curved lines, and show no presence of crystals in its structure. The timepiece is housed in a 32mm white gold case and the malachite dial is combined with a central circle fully paved with diamonds using the snow setting. A keen eye with notice that this shape within a shape is a recurring theme at Piaget, with this timepiece taking its inspiration from the Maison’s patrimony pieces.
It is a challenge to find beautifully coloured tsavorites with a round brilliant cut. This is because the round brilliant cut is made to have the maximum brilliance, which is not usually desired for coloured stones, where you want to intensify the internal colour, making this cut extremely difficult to find. It is for this reason that Piaget had these gemstones custom-cut. The aesthetic choice was for the tsavorites to have the same number of facets as the diamonds for an elegant and harmonious setting that does not compromise on the intensity of the colour or light.
It takes several months to source and select the perfect stones to obtain the optimal gradient. Not only do the Maison's gemmologists need to create the perfect gradient for each watch, but they also need to match the gradients to each timepiece in the collection. The art of colour pairing and shading is very important to Piaget and this particular colour gradient has been selected to provide a strong contrast with the malachite dial.
The timepiece is paired with Piaget's signature engraved Palace Décor bracelet whose texture is so fine that it looks almost like the fabric from an haute couture gown. This is the mastery of assembling bracelet links that Piaget has been perfecting for decades.
The Limelight Gala Precious counts 174 diamonds and 22 tsavorites and took 22 hours to craft, in terms of the case and the gem setting. It is powered by Manufacture automatic movement 501P1 that is on full view through a sapphire caseback.
Both the Limelight Gala High Jewellery and Limelight Gala Precious show the Maison's excellence in sourcing the world's most exceptional precious and hard stones, as well as their savoir-faire in bringing out all their natural beauty. Depth of colour, shimmering and sparkling effects, along with mesmerizing designs all result in timepieces that were made to take the stage.
Ever since the house was established in 1837, Hermès has always sought to preserve the artisanal dimension of its manufacturing, which is a source of durability, creativity, agility and innovation.
The multiform universe of the Maison is composed of infinite constellations. They are the clothes of past collections. Ever-changing, in constant motion, yet almost eternal. Valentino Vintage is the first journey through these collections, now recognized, redefined, reinterpreted.
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