This is the Piaget Altiplano 900P. It is a beautiful watch, but its claim to fame is that it is the world’s thinnest mechanical watch, coming in at just 3.65 mm (.14 in) thick. That is an astounding bit of engineering. To give you an idea of just how astounding, there are 145 parts inside that 3.65 mm. But it sends my mind down a completely different path, calling to mind the current cell phone ecosystem.
We are all more than familiar with the race to thin that exists with cell phones. Every new phone has to be thinner than the last and it is always a huge marketing point. It’s also completely wrong. Cell phones don’t need to be thinner. Once they got to the point that they would fit in most pants pockets, they were thin enough. How many times have you heard someone lament that their phone isn’t 1 mm thinner? And how many times have you heard someone complain about their phone’s battery? Or camera? Batteries and cameras are both things that could greatly benefit from a couple extra millimeters.
The Piaget 900P then, represents where crazed thinness belongs. A marvel that shows that it can be done that exists in small numbers as an exclusive niche. The rest of the watch making industry isn’t joining them in a war that takes all watches to this extreme. There are still plenty of people crafting excellent 12 or 13 mm thick watches. Thicker cell phones, on the other hand, are the bargain bin, featuring out of date technology and a decided lack of features.
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