NEVER TOO THIN

The race to the cham­pi­onship rages on for the the slimmest.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Watch Innovasions of 2014 - Words by Ivan Lim

IT IS THE DE­FIN­I­TIVE DRESS WATCH.

Cre­ated with black tie func­tions in mind, the ul­tra-thin watch per­forms three func­tions; first, keep­ing time while not disturbing the tai­lored lines of a gen­tle­man’s jacket or tuxedo sleeve. Sec­ond, ofer­ring a hint as to the wearer’s re­fined sen­si­bil­i­ties and lastly, show­cas­ing the tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise of the watch­maker.

Bul­gari, Pi­aget and Jaeger-LeCoul­tre have in­tro­duced much ad­mired ver­sions of the ul­tra-thin watch in 2014. While dif­fer­ing vastly in de­sign, a common fea­ture of th­ese watches is that their move­ments are all made in-house. Lit­tle won­der, con­sid­er­ing the tech­ni­cal de­mands as­so­ci­ated with cre­at­ing such in­tri­cate in­stru­ments, es­pe­cially when com­pli­ca­tions like the chrono­graph or tour­bil­lon are in­cor­po­rated. As a point of con­trast, the Rolex Date­just, ar­guably the most iconic every­day watch, has a case thick­ness of 12mm while the thick­est cas­ing among the ul­tra-thin watches fea­tured here mea­sures just 7.58mm.

With the Octo Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon, Bul­gari has set a new world record for the thinnest watch in­cor­po­rat­ing the tour­bil­lon com­pli­ca­tion. This es­teemed com­pli­ca­tion seeks to negate the dis­rup­tion to a watch’s time­keep­ing from the earth’s grav­i­ta­tional pull by hous­ing the es­cape­ment and bal­ance wheel in a per­pet­u­ally ro­tat­ing cage. It’s 1.95mm move­ment is con­ceived through sev­eral in­no­va­tions in­clud­ing the use of ball bear­ings for the mov­ing parts as op­posed to jew­els (which re­quire mount­ing), the tour­bil­lon cage piv­ot­ing on a pe­riph­er­ally-driven ul­tra-thin ball-bear­ing mech­a­nism and the elim­i­na­tion of the reg­u­la­tor assem­bly, since tim­ing is now di­rectly ad­justed on the bal­ance wheel. Both the Finis­simo Tour­bil­lon and the sim­pler Finis­simo cal­i­bre are housed in a plat­inum cas­ing mea­sur­ing just 5mm.

Pi­aget’s new Alti­plano 38mm 900P (avail­able in white or pink gold) has a case thick­ness of just 3.65mm and sets the record for the world’s thinnest hand wound me­chan­i­cal watch. Tak­ing three full years for de­vel­op­ment, this watch sees slim move­ment spe­cial­ist Pi­aget re­de­fine the re­la­tion­ship be­tween watch cas­ing and move­ment by in­te­grat­ing the two. The key to this in­no­va­tion is the watch’s case­back serv­ing as the move­ment’s main­plate; the base on which all other parts of the move­ment are mounted. This re­quired rev­ers­ing move­ment con­struc­tion so as to fit the bridges on the dial side. To trim more mil­lime­tres, the en­tire mech­a­nism and the hand-fit­ting sys­tem are con­tained within the thick­ness of the bal­ance-wheel it­self. Spe­cial at­ten­tion has been paid to clear­ances; op­ti­miz­ing the ar­range­ment of the watch’s fixed and mo­bile or­gans to en­sure re­li­a­bil­ity.

Hav­ing been the 2013 world record holder for the slimmest hand wound me­chan­i­cal watch (Master Ul­tra Thin Ju­bilee), Jaeger-LeCoul­tre does not have to keep com­pet­ing on the same tech­ni­cal front as other man­u­fac­tures. The in­tro­duc­tion of its Master Ul­tra Thin with case thick­ness of 7.58mm (avail­able in steel and pink gold) and the Master Ul­tra Thin Date with case thick­ness of 7.4mm (avail­able in pink gold) sees this dis­tin­guished man­u­fac­ture achiev­ing sev­eral ob­jec­tives at once; de­liv­er­ing ex­cep­tional value to a broader mar­ket through it’s steel pieces while cater­ing to cus­tomers who seek a more lux­u­ri­ous feel from the use of pre­cious met­als. All this time, the man­u­fac­ture con­tin­ues to as­sert the re­strained el­e­gance that has char­ac­terised the Master line of watches. Fur­ther, pow­ered by it’s in-house Cal­i­bres 896 and 899 which have both passed Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s ‘1000 Hours Con­trol’; a qual­ity test more rig­or­ous than that of the COSC, buy­ers can be as­sured of the high de­gree of re­li­a­bil­ity which un­der­girds the time­less, clas­si­cal beauty of th­ese pieces.

As with the rules for dress on the oc­ca­sions where th­ese fine time­pieces are most suited, less is most cer­tainly more.

“One is never served so well as by one­self.”

–CHARLES-GUIL­LAUME ÉTI­ENNE

Top, left: Bul­gari Octo Fin­nisimo Tour­bil­lon in plat­inum.

Above, left: Finis­simo’s Cal­i­bre Finis­simo ex­ploded.

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