As watches start to be previewed for SIHH 2014, this show stealing piece from Piaget caused not just a stir, but a distinct chime at SIHH 2013. Almost a year has gone by and yet nothing can detract from its lustre. It’s called the Piaget Emperador Coussin XL Ultra Thin Minute Repeater, and it was crafted entirely in-house, including the Calibre 1290P, at the Piaget manufacture in La Côte-aux-Fées.
The dazzlingly intricate looking movement involved a team of six engineers working full time for three years to bring it to fruition. Of all the complications considered to be important in the world of haute horology, the minute repeater brings with it some of the most difficult challenges in terms of engineering. Such challenges include, as the Piaget Emperador Coussin XL does, an automatic winding mechanism and, as in this case, a particularly lean and slimline design. A world record beating slimline design as a matter of fact.
The elegant casing was crafted in Piaget’s workshops in Plan-Les-Oautes. The Emperador Coussin Automatic Minute Repeater, Piaget’s first ever Minute Repeater, sets a double record for slenderness in its category: 4.8 mm for its calibre, and 9.4 mm for the case. Not only that, the Calibre 1290P chimes with exceptional intensity, with no less than 64 decibels dedicated to an incredible pure and melodic sound.
Piaget have invested hugely to develop watches with complications, and this minute repeater is the fourth of their complications. In the past 14 years Piaget has also created no less than 35 movements entirely in-house. Some of these include notable calibres like the 600P (the world’s thinnest hand-wound shaped tourbillon), 880P (ultra-thin automatic chronograph), 855P (ultra-thin automatic perpetual calendar) and 1270P (ultra-thin automatic tourbillon).
Platinum was the metal of choice for the Calibre 1290P’s micro-rotor so as to ensure the best possible winding power while also ensuring minimal thickness. Beating at 21,600 vph and with a 40 hour power reserve, the movement boasts an ingenious hour jump at the end of the 59th minute so that the striking mechanism precisely indicates the time to the nearest second.
The lavish decoration for the movement was done entirely by hand; finishing on the back includes circular Côtes-de-Genève, hand-bevelled and hand-drawn bridges lovingly perfected with a file, sunburst satin brushed wheels, a pink gold-toned platinum oscillating weight engraved with the Piaget coat-of-arms, pink gold and rhodium plated polished screws, “P” fixed to the regulator assembly to form the Piaget signature.
The 48 mm-diameter case is made up of 69 parts, with the interior hollowed out as much as possible so to achieve better resonance. Four braces secure it to the movement to ensure the transmission of the gong vibration. The gong base is connected to both the movement and the exterior via four screws. A mechanism beneath the bezel is designed to ensure the watch’s water resistance.
The dial of the watch is open-worked which allows a view of the complex mechanism behind it. On the dial itself, long, slim and elegant hour markers are crafted from 18-karat rose gold. The slide at 9 o’clock triggers the minute repeater on demand, with the sound generated by the vibrations of a gong struck by steel hammers.
To preserve the purity of the sound Calibre 1290P is equipped with an inertia flywheel to regulate the rhythm between the start and finish of the chiming. The hours are pitched at G sharp, and the minutes at A sharp. Despite using a fixed gong, Piaget’s repeater sound has three virtually harmonic partials.
While we await Maison Piaget’s new creations to be shown at SIHH in January 2014, at over $250,000, the Piaget Emperador Coussin XL Ultra Thin Minute Repeater deserves more than a backward glance.
More resources about the Piaget Emperador Coussin XL on the Official Piaget Website.