In the battle for the thinnest watch, Piaget and Bulgari are fierce rivals currently occupying the pole positions in the manual and automatic categories respectively.

Thinnest manual-winding watch: Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

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The case is a special metal alloy that is super rigid
Above The case is a special metal alloy that is super rigid

Its case height is an astonishing 2mm; to put it into perspective, it is no thicker than 2 credit cards. The Altiplano Ultimate Concept builds upon the revolutionary idea of merging the movement with the case so that the latter also doubles as the baseplate. Piaget first presented this concept in 2014 in the Altiplano 900P.

To push the limits of minituarisation further, the watchmakers made the construction of the movement as compact as possible without compromising on performance. For instance, the regulating organ’s balance staff, inner ring and roller are one indivisible whole. The barrel’s mainspring is integrated within the frame. The crown has been redesigned as a flat telescopic shape that slots perfectly inside the caseband, leaving no jutting element. The crystal protecting the movement is a mere 0.2mm, a significant reduction from the standard 1mm.

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No thicker than 2 credit cards
Above No thicker than 2 credit cards

Since the case serves as the baseplate, the movement too has to be inverted, a necessity that adds another level of technical challenge. Its thinness too calls for a special material for the 41mm case so that it doesn’t break easily. The solution is a cobalt-based high-tech alloy that is extremely rigid and robust.

The Altiplano Ultimate Concept is also the thinnest mechanical watch yet, making it an even more compelling case for an elegant timepiece.

Also see: 8 masterpieces from SIHH 2019

Thinnest self-winding watch: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic

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A masculine sandblasted case
Above A masculine sandblasted titanium case

An automatic movement is generally thicker than a manual movement because of the presence of an oscillating weight. To bring down the size, Bulgari designs the rotor to oscillate on the periphery of the movement.

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The wafer thin Calibre BVL 288
Above The wafer thin Calibre BVL 288

Bulgari then challenges itself further by adding a flying tourbillon spinning in its cage that would have taken up more space. The solution is an innovative ball-bearing system that does away certain parts and reduces the size. The result is the super slim Calibre BVL 288 that measures only 1.95mm in height. 

The titanium case, which is based on a design by Gerald Genta, is sandblasted for that masculine appeal. It measures only 3.95mm in height, making it not just the thinnest automatic watch but also the thinnest tourbillon watch ever.

Also see: 10 watches that caught our attention at Baselworld 2019

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