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Record Breakers: 9 Watches That Set World Records


A Rolex Daytona formerly owned by Paul Newman broke a record when it sold at auction for 17.7 million dollars in 2017. But certain other records cannot be measured in money. Here are some spectacular examples from the wristwatch world.

Piaget Altiplano 910P
Thinnest Automatic Wristwatch – from $26,000

Piaget Altiplano 910
Piaget Altiplano 910

Piaget’s new Altiplano Ultimate Automatic collection — which contains two 41-mm timepieces in 18k white gold and 18k rose gold — is the current record holder for the world’s thinnest automatic watch, coming in at only 4.3 mm thick. Over 200 components make up the 910P movement. The peripheral winding system cancels out the need for a conventional rotor; instead, we have an extra-thin rotor that runs along the edge of the dial instead of adding an extra layer to the watch. The “rotor” is 22k gold and coated in black PVD so it has enough inertia to wind the watch.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater
Slimmest Minute Repeater – $155,000

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater - front-angle
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater

Both 3.12-mm-slim hand-wound Caliber BVL 362 and the 6.85-mm-thin case of Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater are record setters. The movement and the case each hold a world record in the discipline of the slimmest minute repeater. Thanks to its low density, titanium is especially well suited to be the case’s material. But Bulgari doesn’t stop here. The dial is not only made of titanium, but also serves as an additional resonating body with stamped-out indexes and seconds circle. A centrifugal brake ensures that the chimes ring at regular intervals after they’ve been triggered by pressing a button on the side of the case.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 101

Smallest Mechanical Movement

Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 101
Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 101

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s hand-wound Caliber 101 isn’t only the world’s smallest mechanical caliber – it also has held this record longer than any of its predecessors. Developed in 1929, it consists of 98 individual components and weighs just 1 gram. It measures 14.0 mm by 4.8 mm by 3.4 mm. Jaeger-LeCoultre still makes this caliber today. Each component is individually handcrafted and then modified prior to assembly, so every Caliber 101 is custom made. Annual production is a two-digit number, although the caliber per se isn’t limited. Jaeger-LeCoultre uses it in the petite cases of ladies’ jewelry watches.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon
Slimmest Tourbillon – price upon request

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon

With a hairsbreadth “thickness” of just 1.95 mm, the movement of Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Tourbillon is not only thinner than a Swiss five-franc coin, it’s also today’s slimmest hand-wound tourbillon wristwatch. The Finissimo Tourbillon encases Caliber BVL 268, which unites 268 components. Various technical solutions were devised to keep the movement as slim as possible. The moving parts turn in seven ball bearings, while the tourbillon cage is borne in a sort of cartridge. A second skeletonized version was presented in 2017. It is also housed in a platinum case with a diameter of 40 mm and a height of 5 mm.

Rolex Deepsea
Record-Setting Divers’ Watch – $12,050

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea

The deepest diving depth was achieved by a Rolex watch strapped to the Trieste submersible in 1960, when the Swiss adventurer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh descended to the record-shattering depth of 10,916 meters in the Marianas Trench. The Deepsea Special affixed to the exterior of their bathyscaphe was an experimental model. Decades later, when film director James Cameron piloted his submarine into the depths of the Marianas Trench on March 12, 2012, he told time using the dial of a special Rolex Sea-Dweller Challenge, which was strapped to a manipulator arm on the exterior of his craft. Rolex commemorates this ultra-deep dive with a Deepsea watch that remains watertight to 3,900 meters and has a dial with a color scheme that transitions from blue to black. This makes Rolex the only watch brand whose timepieces were the first to reach both the highest place on earth (the summit of Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary and his Rolex Explorer in 1953) and the lowest.

Piaget Altiplano 900P
Slimmest Wristwatch – $26,500

Piaget Altiplano 900P
Piaget Altiplano 900P

Piaget holds the record for the world’s slimmest mechanical wristwatch, which is a mere 3.65 mm in height. Two constructive tricks made this feat possible. First, Piaget lets the back of the case serve as the base plate for the movement. Second, some parts of hand-wound Caliber 900P are arranged around the off-center dial so all components are nearly on the same plane. Piaget, which was founded in 1874, holds another double record: the 8.24-mm-slim Altiplano Chronograph is the slimmest chronograph with flyback function, and its 4.65-mm-thin Caliber 883P is currently the slimmest chronograph movement on the market.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon
Slimmest Minute Repeater with Tourbillon And Automatic Winding – price upon request

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon

The manufacture in Le Sentier enjoys an enviably fine reputation as a maker of slim watches and as a workshop for attention-getting complications. The brand’s minute repeater with flying tourbillon achieves the unprecedented feat of combining two elite complications and an automatic winding mechanism in a wristwatch. The automatic winding system had to be redeveloped to accommodate both complications inside the 7.9-mm-slim white-gold case: the oscillating weight, which is made of platinum, swings around the periphery of the movement and can be viewed through the window in the dial. A slide can be shifted to trigger the minute repeater, which contains an intelligent mechanism that knows whether a quarter hour or more remain before the next full hour. If fewer than 15 minutes remain, the minute chimes resound immediately after the hour chimes.

Citizen Eco-Drive One
Thinnest Light-Powered Analog Watch – $6,000

Citizen Eco-Drive One - angle
Citizen Eco-Drive One

To mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of its proprietary Eco-Drive quartz technology in 2016, Citizen created an extraordinarily thin watch with a case just 2.98 mm thick. The watch, called Citizen Eco-Drive One, is the world’s thinnest light-powered analog watch and uses natural or artificial light to generate electrical energy, eliminating the need to replace the battery. The movement, Caliber 8826, is a mere 1.00 mm thick and has an accuracy of +/-15 seconds per month. Citizen also reduced the energy consumption of the movement, enabling the watch to run for 10 months on a single full charge.

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
Thinnest Wristwatch

The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

The 2018-introduced hand-wound Ultimate Concept measures only 2 mm, making it the thinnest mechanical wristwatch ever produced. For reference, the self-winding Ultimate Automatic from Piaget came in at 4.3 mm; the Citizen Eco-Drive One, the world’s thinnest light-powered analog watch, at 2.98 mm. At 2 mm, this new concept timepiece is basically the same size as the hand-wound Caliber 9P movement that Piaget revealed at Baselworld in 1960, which is thought of as the watershed moment for the pursuit of ultra-thinness. Piaget developed a cobalt-based alloy that provides optimum rigidity to the case, which serves as both the exterior of the watch and the base plate for the movement.

2 Responses to “Record Breakers: 9 Watches That Set World Records”

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  1. Srdjan Obracevic

    Piaget Altiplano Chronograph thinnest hand-wound flyback chronograph (SIHH 2015)

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