Which are some of the world’s thinnest watches?

On the heels of Richard Mille breaking the world record for the world’s thinnest watch, we throwback to seven watches that were equally awesome in their slimness
Last week, the world woke up to the news of Richard Mille creating a new world record with its RM UP-01 Ferrari. At a thickness of just 1.75mm, Richard Mille had created the world’s thinnest watch. Crafting a movement that is the basis of the thickness/ thinness, Richard Mille instead of using the case as a baseplate, developed an ultra-flat movement that measures just 1.18mm in thickness (read more about it here). But Richard Mille isn’t the only brand to take up thinness, while creating exceptional design and mechanics, as the final frontier. Here are some of the world’s thinnest watches that you should know about. 

1. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra at 1.80mm 

Before there was the RM UP-01 Ferrari, there was the Octo Finissimo Ultra. Unveiled earlier this year, the watch measures 1.80mm in thickness, just .05mm thinner than the Richard Mille. The grey, sandblasted titanium case and integrated bracelet make an impression on the wrist, as does the QR code incorporated on the mainspring barrel that is linked directly to an exclusive NFT artwork. The manual winding 40mm octagonal watch is powered by the BVL180 calibre, with 50 hours power reserve. The watch is limited to 10 pieces. 

The Ultra manages its thinness because the case is used as the baseplate itself, and all the movement components are made to rest in one layer itself. The mainplate is made of tungsten carbide, a super hardy material that ensures that the watch doesn’t bend. The case design as a whole has been divided into 4 parts: There is a case bottom (much like a bezel), then the mainplate / caseback, then a thin gasket, then the bezel, with the sapphire crystal. Understandably, there is barely any space between these. The crown has been omitted - another space saving measure – and replaced with two knurled wheels that stick out on the side. The one on the right sets the hands and the one on the left, winds the mainspring barrel. 

2. Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept at 2mm 

In recent years, the race for the world’s thinnest watch was started by Piaget, a brand that has been widely known to play around with the idea of slim watches. The 2mm thin Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept was introduced, as its name suggests, as a concept watch in 2018. But within two years, it was under regular production after the brand had ironed out the chinks in perfecting an incredibly thin watch. Here, too, the case acts as the movement baseplate and all components of the mechanics have been suppressed into one layer. The 41mm watch however is crafted from cobalt alloy, which ensures rigidity of the case. Powered by the 900P-UC, the watch has a power reserve of 40 hours. Another thing setting the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept apart – it can be customised, and one can choose from the color of the bridge and dial, to the finish of the hands and the main plate and even select straps that match or contrast. 

3. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Squelette at 3.6mm 

Back in 2015, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Squelette was the thinnest watch in the world, with a height of 3.60mm. But another aspect that made the watch stand apart was the level of craftsmanship it displayed. The 38mm skeleton dial watch, either in white gold or pink gold, featured the Calibre 849SQ, which was stunningly decorated and finished – every aspect of the movement, wherever possible, featured hand-engraving, both front and back. The transparent caseback further gave on the option to admire this work. The hours were depicted via a ring around the case that was divided into 12 sections, with the minutes track in a concentric circle just under. In the white gold watch, this meant a blue enamel ring, and in the red gold, a brown one. Both versions were a limited edition of 100 pieces. 

4. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic at 3.95mm

One could argue that Bulgari’s been building its Octo range with the sole purpose to break slimness/thickness/thinness records if one were to just look at the achievements that mark the watches in this collection. Paving the way for the Ultra in 2018 was the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Automatic (which in turn came after the 2014 record-breaking Octo Finissimo Tourbillon). And the time, it became the world's thinnest automatic tourbillon, thinnest tourbillon, and thinnest automatic wristwatch. The sandblasted titanium watch, 42mm in diameter, featured an ultra-thin flying tourbillon with a special ball bearing system to reduce thickness. The movement was the BVL 288, just 1.95 mm thick, with automatic winding through a peripheral rotor made with white gold and aluminum. Though a closed caseback, the tourbillon movement could be appreciated through both sides. The watch had 55 hours of power reserve, and was water-resistant to 30 metres. 

5. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Jubilee at 4.05mm 

The year was 2013 when Jaeger-LeCoultre launched the Master Ultra Thin Jubilee. The elegant 39mm dress watch had a case crafted from platinum, and at the time was the thinnest manually wound watch. Inspired by the world’s thinnest manually-wound pocket-watch by Jaeger-LeCoultre, the watch had a grained silver-toned dial, with linear hour markers and a minutes track that were all reflective of a pocket-watch design. A limited-edition of 880 pieces, in a nod to the 180th anniversary of the Manufacture, 1833 featured under the logo at 12 o’clock. The watch was powered by the manually-wound Calibre 849 measuring 1.85mm. 

6. Vacheron Constantin Historiques Ultra Fine 1955 at 4.10mm 

The Historiques Ultra Fine 1955 was first introduced in 2010 and at only 4.1 mm thickness, was the thinnest back then. It also had the thinnest mechanical wristwatch movement of the time - the manually wound Vacheron Constantin Caliber 1003, which was 1.64mm thick, and was rebuilt in 2010 for its 55th anniversary. The watch had a classic aesthetic crafted in pink gold with black leather straps. The dial was white with linear hour markers in 18K gold, baton hands, and a transparent caseback. The watch bore the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva seal. 

7. Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic 910P at 4.3mm 

Launched in 2017, the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic’s 4.3mm marked the thinnest an automatic watch had ever been. Integrating the movement’s baseplate into the case, helped reduce the watch’s thickness, as did having a peripheral rotor. The watch had an off-centre dial with pencil-shaped hands and linear hour markers, with the skeleton movement surrounding the dial. The watch is powered by the 910P caliber, an off-shoot of the historic 9P caliber, with 50 hours power reserve. Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic 910P has two case versions: white and pink gold.  

Images: Courtesy brands

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