Piaget Altiplano Zodiaque Moonphases: Old Fashioned Grandeur Returns To Piaget
by Martin Green
There is nothing as vulgar as making an ultra-slim movement simply for the sake of being ultra-slim. It might give you bragging rights, but it is just a mechanical achievement unless you use the opportunities a slim movement provides to make something more.
While it most certainly didn’t hurt Piaget when they launched the legendary calibers 9P and 12P about 70 years ago, the real reason behind these movements was that the slimmer and smaller the movement, the more creative freedom available to the brands’ designers.
When I first saw the Piaget Altiplano Zodiaque Moonphase watches, I got flashbacks of Piaget returning to those times, using their unparalleled creativity to create something out of this world.
Few people know that Piaget once had a partnership with Salvadore Dali, who designed several watches, but also cufflinks, rings, and even keychains for the brand. While different in design, these new Altiplano’s give me a similar vibe.
The bottom half of the dial is made of a gold segment, engraved, and set with a stream of gemstones, and a few random ones in between. They surround the opening for the moon phase. This window is decorated with diamonds, set in a semi-circle, resembling the shape made of lacquer visible on the oscillating weight.
This all is quite a contrast with the top part, featuring the night sky represented by beautiful translucent blue enamel made by renowned master enameller Anita Porchet. White dots and different colored gemstones makeup the four Chinese Zodiacs, which are guardians of the cardinal directions, also representing the four seasons and the elements.
The shapes are even luminous, and light up at night. This could easily have been tacky, as it is a lot for a 36mm large watch, but it is so well brought together that I cannot help gazing at them. I would even go as far as I would gladly wear any of them, even though they are probably aimed at a more female clientele. This is also how time is changing because I am pretty sure Piaget would have marketed this exact same watch to men when launched in the 1960s or 70s.
Four to choose from
Piaget is making four different versions of the Altiplano Zodiaque Moonphase, and each version is limited to just eight pieces. This is no coincidence as the main market for these watches is Asia where eight is considered a lucky number. All feature a 36mm case set with 48 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 1.63 cts) in the bezel and 12 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.11 cts) to decorate the lugs.
Inside ticks caliber 580P, powered by the aforementioned oscillating weight. With a height of just 4.51 mm, it is pleasantly slender, and the moon phase complication is accurate to one day every 122 years.
Piaget plays a lot with contrast in these watches. The models with a white gold case, the Azure Dragon and Vermilion Bird, feature a pink gold insert on the dial. With the pink gold cased White Tiger and Black Tortoise it is the other way around. The White Tiger offers the cleanest design, with the white gold segment set with brilliant-cut diamonds. While it is stunning, to me it takes away part of the fun that this watch has to offer, and that is to dazzle with color and textures.
The Black Tortoise, highlighting the diversity of blue hues in sapphires, has a more balanced approach, something that we also see in the Azure Dragon. The Vermilion Bird is the most outgoing, both because of its bright red alligator strap and thanks to the use of rubies and pink sapphires.
Which one you prefer is very much a personal choice, but I hail them all as they bring back energy that I haven’t seen much of at Piaget in recent years, but which is at the core of their DNA.
Thin is in, but these Piaget Altiplano Zodiaque Moonphases are even better.
For more information, please visit www.piaget.com/eu-en/altiplano-zodiaque-moonphase-watches
Quick Facts Piaget Altiplano Zodiaque Moonphase
Case: 36mm in either white or pink gold, with 48 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 1.63 cts) and 12 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.11 ct)
Movement: automatic caliber 580P; 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency; 40-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; moon phase with one day difference every 122 years
Limitation: 8 pieces per version
Price: price available on request
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