In a rather unexpected segue from their normally mechanical men’s novelties, at SIHH 2016 Piaget has launched a watch to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its first in-house quartz movement, the ultra-thin 7P calibre, called the Emperador Coussin XL 700P.
However this is not, as more commonly seen in their women’s pieces, just any old quartz watch. It is probably best described as being akin to what Seiko does with the hybrid mechanical-quartz Spring Drive. Piaget have called it a generator-regulated mechanical movement. Its roots hark back to 1976 and the in-house 7P quartz movement, but this new movement is a very different proposition; an ultra-thin example of their first use of such a hybrid. Patents have been filed (and for those interested, it is probably worth comparing these patents with those of Seiko’s) and it is the result of two years of research and development. Unlike what Seiko is prone to doing, however, there is no seconds hand in this piece.
The new automatic hybrid movement has a 32’768 Hz frequency controls the rotation of the generator and wheels train. The generator produces a charge, sufficient to power the electronics, which then controls the rate at which the gear train runs. It has 32 jewels and a power reserve of forty-two hours. The movement is black-coated, as mentioned ultra-thin (5.5mm), and is finished with circular Côtes de Genève, circular-grained mainplate, bevelled bridges, engraved rotor with the Piaget coat-of-arms, and silvered screws. Generator and micro-rotor underlined with polished white gold.
The case itself is also white gold, and is 46.5mm with a black DLC bezel. The skeletonised dial is attractive and has many of the design cues familiar to Emperadors, along with silvered indices and hands. It comes on a black alligator strap with a matching 18 carat white gold folding clasp.
When I first read about this watch last month at its pre-SIHH 2016 announcement I wasn’t quite sure that I ‘got’ it in the sense of ‘why’. Design-wise in terms of aesthetics it’s attractive, although some might say the disc on the front is superfluous decoratively-speaking. It does, however, give an aesthetic nod to its mechanical older siblings.
That they’ve put this much effort into this watch, both in terms of its R&D and the profile it has assumed in terms of being a new launch, is one of the most interesting things about its existence. Surely this cannot be a one-off use, so what does this mean for potential new models?
In the meantime, this one comes in a limited edition of 118 pieces and comes on a black alligator strap with an 18 carat white gold folding clasp.