More ultra thin from the kingdom of Piaget for 2013. The main attraction at SIHH 2013 from the fashionable Swiss watch and movement maker was of course their ultra-thin minute repeater. We did get a hands-on that we will share with you soon, but something closer to being within the realm of possible affordability is this new 40mm wide Piaget Altiplano Date watch. The lovely dress watch is a new version of the Piaget Altiplano 43 Automatic that came out a few years ago. What's new? Well the size is down to 40mm wide from 43mm and Piaget added a date complication.
The original Altiplano 43mm Automatic (hands-on here) was in my opinion, a landmark watch for the brand in terms of offering something for daily wear. The Polo is a bit of a strange piece with a niche demographic that doesn't just want a Piaget, but wants a sporty Piaget. While the brand is a very accomplished movement maker, on the outside their strength seems to be working with diamonds. The Altiplano 43mm Automatic offered a truly nice men's watch without the jewelry that was also convenient and well-sized. It is the watch for the American or European guy who wanted something larger than 38mm wide and an automatic movement. The Altiplano also contained the world's thinnest automatic movement in the thinnest case for such a movement.
The Altiplano Date takes this concept further with the in-house made Piaget 1205P automatic movement that adds a date complication. Now you have the world's thinnest automatic movement with date, in the thinnest case. The caliber 1205P is just 3mm thick and very beautiful with its fantastic finishing and gold micro-rotor. It is viewable through the sapphire display caseback on the Altiplano Date. Is adding a date wheel all that special? In truth no, but replica Piaget watches need to slowly dole out these "world's thinnest" so your collection has something to crave. Offering this piece in a 40mm wide case versus 43mm gives people an additional reason to be interested.
What I noticed about the Altiplano Date is that despite it having some design errors I still like it a lot. The hands again are too short, and the date looks odd on the far left side of the case. Speaking of the hands, I wanted them to be the right size on the original Piaget Altiplano 43mm Automatic that we did a "Watch What-If" making them the right size digitally here. It is quirky looking albeit very useful dial and design.
Curiously enough Piaget practices incredible restraint in not formally adding the "ultra-thin" label to the name. Even though this is a record-setting watch, the official name of it is just "Piaget Altiplano Date." That is amusing because a lot of the time watches with nothing particularly special to brag about in terms of being thin will gladly throw around the label, and then here Piaget is silent. How thin is the Altiplano Date? The 18k white or rose gold case is just. 6.36mm thick. On the wrist it lays flat like a plate (in a good way).
While I mostly never wear 40mm wide Swiss replica watches as in my opinion they are too small, this is certainly one of those instances that I would make an exception. The size works very nicely and the thin bezel makes the case look larger than it is. I also don't mind the relatively thin lugs. Attached to the case is a black or brown alligator strap with matching gold buckle.
The original Piaget Altiplano 43mm was marred by production problems. It took a long time to be produced and was never (to my knowledge) made in great numbers. It is still apparently a difficult watch to get today. It is difficult to guess why, but it goes without saying that mass producing mechanical watch movements is a truly horrific undertaking. The good news is that Piaget claims the production issues are solved in the sense that the Piaget Altiplano Date will not require nearly as long a wait and should begin to be available by the summer. That is good news as this is a great dress watch.
For the time being the dials are only in white, but that is OK because I think the dials work best this way. The 43mm wide version eventually came in a slate dial that was nice looking but not nearly as legible. I hope that all future versions of these automatic Altiplano models preserve the beautiful high-contrast display style. As a formal suit watch with a great movement and modern design the Altiplano Date is a good option in my opinion.