by Christopher Scapelliti
Word to watch lovers: thin is in.
After years of serving up oversized, complication-packed timepieces, the watch industry is putting its own spin on downsizing by creating pieces with fewer functions and wafer-thin movements and cases.
The trend was on display in January at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva. Presented some three months ahead of the long-running Baselworld fair, the Salon offers a preview of what’s fresh and novel in the coming year.
Both Audemars Piguet and Ralph Lauren showed off new timepieces that feature just the essential hour and minute indicators. The Jules Audemars Ultra Thin watch features a strikingly clean design with a 9.15mm case. Lauren goes even further with its Slim Classique line, which boasts a Piaget movement just 2.1mm thick in a 5.35 mm case.
IWC has gotten in on the action as well by giving its classic Portofino timepiece a thinner case and expanding the watch into a family that offers new complications, including a chronograph and dual time zone indicators.
Yet for all their thinness, none of the above timepieces can compare to the achievement that is Piaget’s Emperador Coussin Tourbillon Automatic Ultra Thin. Piaget’s Altiplano line already has the thinnest automatic movement (2.35 mm), but with the Emperador Coussin Tourbillon, the watchmaker can now boast that it has the thinnest automatic tourbillon of anyone. The movement is a mere 5.55mm thick, set in a 46.5mm Emperador Coussin case that is slightly flattened to a 10.4mm thickness.
Beyond its impressive dimensions, the Emperador Coussin Tourbillon is strikingly handsome, with “sunray” hour markers and dual display windows on the dial that let you view the miniature rotor and tourbillon. The movement is also etched with the sunray effect, producing a layered effect that recalls a classic art deco motif. The exposed red sapphire crystals and blued steel screws decorate the face like a cluster of stars, further enhancing the cosmological theme while adding to the watch’s elegance and appeal.
None of this comes cheap, of course. The Emperador Coussin Tourbillon will reportedly carry a six-figure price. To put a spin on an old phrase, you can never be too thin…or too rich.