Never mind cutting-edge metallurgy, there's a new emerging trend in watchmaking, the use of unusual natural hard stones to create some very special watch faces. A few weeks ago I wrote about the superb Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 newly-dialled with a choice of mother-of-pearl, Lapis Lazuli or Onyx. I have also featured one of the most beautiful "natural" faced watches ever - the Paul Picot Atelier Slate 42mm. New for 2012 is the Piaget Altiplano Hard Stone Dials collection.
The new collection from Piaget harks back to the 1960's when the brand first used hard stones to create watch dials. The brand are masters of skinnying watch movements, with past achievements measured in millimetres, but producing a dial using stone also presents a technical challenge. These stones are shatterable, frangible, delicate and all but the most talented and patient Artisans would be unable to cut them to the required form .... but the rewards are high, each piece, because of the use of natural materials will be unique, each will be special.
This is a varied selection, six in all, but we focus on the Lapis Lazuli and Malachite dial editions shown, both of which measure 38mm across and are powered by the 430P Calibre, diminutive at just 2.1mm thickness. Other editions include opaque ruby, jade, opal and turquoise available in 34mm or 24mm cases and powered by quartz. Each is meritorious and each is perfectly framed in the rounded, squared-lug Altiplano case with its little tucked-in crown.
More information at the Piaget Website.