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SIHH 2013 Preview: Piaget - Emperador Coussin Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater

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Piaget is often associated to ultra-thin watches and with the new Emperador Coussin Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater the manufacturer of La Côte aux Fées sets a double record for slenderness in the Minute Repeater category: 4.8 mm for its calibre, and 9.4 mm for its case.

The Minute Repeater is definitely one of the most difficult complication to produce. The task becomes even more challenging by adding an array of individual features which, together, form a truly unique accomplishment: automatic winding mechanism,  the thinnest calibre in its category along with the thinnest case, water resistant to 3 ATM, 100% in-house. All without compromising the essential quality of the watch: its fabulous acoustics.  

To achieve such an ambitious goal, the development of the Calibre 1290P movement alone involved three years of work by six engineers dedicated to this task.

Developed on the basis of Calibre 1200P (the world's thinnest automatic movement), the 1290P measures just 4.8 mm thick despite its 407 parts – a mind blowing number that demanded exceptional miniaturisation and a refusal to compromise on the sound or on technical reliability.

Assembling, adjusting and decorating such thin parts allows no room for mistakes. Some wheels are for example a mere 0.12 mm thick, scarcely more than a hair's breadth (0.08 mm). Some components even measure as little as 0.07 mm! The microrotor was designed in platinum in order to guarantee the best possible winding power within a minimum thickness. 

The 48 mm-diameter case plays an essential role in the sound transmission. It has been hollowed out as much as possible in order to achieve optimal resonance. Four braces secure it to the calibre to ensure the transmission of the gong vibration. This essential transmission is reinforced by a gong base that is interconnected both with the movement and the exterior via 4 screws.
Activating the repeater slide at 9 o'clock serves to trigger the minute repeater on demand. The sound is then generated by the vibrations of a gong that is struck by the hammers. The latter are made of steel to ensure an optimal hardness to weight ratio. The gong itself is designed all of a piece to guarantee enhanced transmission of the vibrations – and thus the sound – through the movement and on through the case. In order to preserve the purity of this sound throughout its duration, the calibre is equipped with an inertia flywheel serving to regulate the rhythm between the start and finish of the chiming.

Calibre 1290P chimes with no less than 64 decibels dedicated to an incredible pure sound.  Striking in the fifth octave, the hours are pitched at G sharp, and the minutes at A sharp. 

Piaget remarks that the Calibre 1290P offers the most prestigious level of finishing ever performed by the manufacture: the "image finishing" level. Decorations are entirely crafted by hand:  bridges hand-bevelled and hand-drawn with a file, sunburst or circular satin-brushed wheels, pink gold-toned screws and oscillating weight engraved with the Piaget coat-of-arms, mirror-polished finishing.
Through the dial opening which reveal the inertia flywheel between 4 and 5 o'clock, it is possible to read the Piaget motto: "Toujours faire mieux que necessaire" (always do better than necessary).

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