There is always competition in the field of watchmaking. It can come in different forms of shapes and sizes, ranging from complications, designs, and technical prowess. And of course, the competition of making some of the thinnest watches in the world.
The process behind making an ultra-thin watch is by no means an easy feat. This is due to the amount of work that goes into designing and re-engineering the individual components, before putting it together into a movement altogether (which, again, is typically redesigned to ensure optimality). It is not just good enough to be thin – it has to be robust and performs flawlessly as well. Combining it together and one can see why ultra-thin watches are so highly regarded by many.
For today’s article, we will not be selecting six of the world’s thinnest timepieces. We will, however, look at thin watches in general, with a focus on some pieces that are slightly more special in terms of value, complications, or design. What have we selected? Let us find out!
NOMOS Tangente “Red Dot” 2018
First, we have the NOMOS Tangente “Red Dot” 2018.
NOMOS is a brand that we have often waxed lyrical about. The
Glashütte-based watch manufacturer is a perennial favourite of ours for two simple reasons – they product well-priced in-house manufactured timepieces, and the Bauhaus-inspired watches are clean and simple in its aesthetics. It might be minimalistic, but the watches are surely much more than what meets the eye.
The 37.5mm Tangente “Red Dot” 2018 is a collaboration between NOMOS and The Hour Glass, a Singapore watch retailer. It is a three-hand timepiece, fitted with an in-house Calibre Alpha. The movement is adequately finished, with notable traits such as perlage, Glashütte stopwork, and Glashütte three-quarter plate.
The watch retails at S$3,200, and it is available in two dial variants with a limited production of 100 pieces each. While it is not labelled as an ultra-thin watch per se, but its case profile of 6.75mm is highly respectable for a humble manufacturer when it is placed vis–à–vis against the big boys.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatique
Over the last few years, Bvlgari had constantly impressed us with its Octo collection. Its relentless pursuit of making ultra-thin watches had yielded some interesting results, and these pieces had certainly differentiated itself against some of the counterparts in the same category.
The 40mm Octo Finissimo Automatique is one of our favourite pieces from Bulgari just yet. While there are many other more complicated pieces (such as the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon and the Octo Finissimo Répétition Minute), we pretty much like the clean and sophisticated looks of the Automatique itself. Besides, the price point is also much more accessible, and that its simple aesthetics really brings out the case and bracelet construction (which we reckon is the main attraction of this piece).
The Finissimo Automatique is cased with Bulgari’s Calibre BVL138. The self-winding movement comes with a platinum micro-rotor, and it has a power reserve of around 60 hours. This is even more impressive considering that the movement is only 2.23mm thick – which is even thinner than Piaget Altiplano’s record of 2.35mm. Finally, this incredible titanium timepiece is available from S$17,700 onwards (with the leather strap option), and we feel that this is excellent value for an ultra-thin luxury sports watch which is constructed beautifully and coupled with excellent finishing.
Jaeger LeCoultre Master Ultra-thin Perpetual Calendar
The Master Ultra-thin Perpetual Calendar is one of the defining timepieces for Jaeger LeCoultre, since its debut in 2013.
When the timepiece was first introduced, it was one of the most reasonably priced perpetual calendars in the market. But the MUT Perpetual Calendar is more than just figures in monetary terms. The 39mm timepiece is very sleek and elegant, and it measures a mere 9.2mm in thickness. The in-house Calibre 868 is a very solid movement too, and its single-corrector function (which requires just one corrector to automatically adjust the different indicators) is very intuitive and simple to operate as well.
This particular JLC is certainly a welcoming addition to any watch collection, and it is a very compelling piece for such an excellent piece at its price point. The watch is priced at S$28,400 for the stainless-steel version.
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue
It is not an open secret that we have a soft spot for A. Lange & Söhne’s watches, but the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue certainly reinforces our love for this German watch manufacturer.
While the Saxonia Thin 37mm may be the brand’s entry-level piece, but the Glashütte-based manufacturer decided to go a step further with a stunning dial iteration. This particular version features a solid silver dial that is layered with goldstone, which is a man-made glass consisting of tiny crystals of copper dispersed within to create a glittering appearance. The sparkling stardust-like effect works brilliantly with the blue background, and it gives the watch a rather dreamy appearance.
Priced at S$31,500, the 37mm Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is priced at a large premium as compared to the normal Saxonia Thin. However, the dial is definitely unique, and this surely makes the highly acclaimed dress watch a whole load more desirable than ever.
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
While collectors are constantly chasing the likes of Nautilus and Grand Complications, the Golden Ellipse is quietly lying in the shadows within the Patek Philippe collection. Launched in 1968, the timepiece certainly has a special place in the hard of most Patek Philippe collectors.
Last year, to commemorate the golden jubilee of the Golden Ellipse, the maison had decided to produce a special edition of the watch. The magic of the piece definitely still lies in its timeless case design. The elliptical case has dimensions that follows the golden ratio, which makes it look rather proportional and “right”. This particular edition is the “Grand Tallie” model, which means that it features a larger case dimension. This version measures at 34.5 mm x 39.5 mm, instead of the regular 31.0 mm x 35.5 mm case size. It was perhaps made with the modern consumers in mind, who seem to prefer a slightly larger timepiece.
The watch is powered by the legendary Calibre 240. The self-winding movement is only 2.53 mm thick, playing a key role in the watch’s overall slenderness. It is fitted with a 22k gold micro-rotor, and it also comes with the brand’s proprietary Gyromax balance and patented Spiromax balance spring for improved rate accuracy. This rose gold timepiece retails at S$40,700, and we feel that this is one of the perfect discreet dress pieces that will look classy in any formal setting.
Piaget Altiplano Concept Ultimate
Finally, we round up with the timepiece that inspired us to select this topic for this week’s column. Cue the stunning Piaget Altiplano Concept Ultimate.
Piaget, specifically the Altiplano line, is known for its prowess in developing some of the world’s thinnest timepieces. The Altoplano Concept Ultimate is a testament to that, as it currently holds the record for being the thinnest automatic timepiece in the world with a thickness of a mere 2mm. That is a certainly a wide margin to boot.
This is all thanks to a series of ingenious touches in terms of design and engineering. One of the main reasons behind its thinness comes from the fact that the case and movement are combined into a single piece. This ensures that everything can be as flushed together as possible, and hence laying as little components on top of each other as possible. Everything is also reduced in height, right down to the sapphire crystal which is just a mere 0.2mm thick. The attention to detail here is surely amazing.
The 41mm Altiplano Concept Ultimate is an interesting watch, and it definitely challenges the realms of what was previously touted as “impossible”. This, however, comes at a hefty price tag – at S$650,000. This is an interesting proposition, but we would imagine that at this price point, one will be spoilt for choices with a myriad of good tourbillons and minute repeaters available for acquisition.
Most of the watches that we have selected today are dress watches, and that is one of the main reasons behind brands crafting ultra-thin watches. Dress watches are known to be discreet and elegant, and having a thin case profile helps in that aspect.
We have to reiterate that again, we are not looking at the world’s six thinnest timepieces. We are more interested in how brands incorporate the concept of thinness into their timepieces, and the Jaeger LeCoultre MUT Perpetual Calendar is an example of how the brand challenges itself to produce a thin watch with a highly sophisticated complication. The MUT is certainly far from being the world’s thinnest watch, but this does not dilute the fact that it is an impressive thin watch nonetheless.
What are your thoughts on ultra-thin watches, as well as some of your favourites within the category? Let us know in the comments section below!