Watchmakers are constantly striving for new milestones in mechanical watchmaking. When it comes to innovation, luxury watch brands are always pushing the boundaries, be it with recycled materials or highly precise movements. Creating ultra-thin watches also requires supremely innovative efforts. In 2022, Bvlgari launched the Octo Finissimo Ultra, measuring 1.80 mm in thickness; it was considered the thinnest watch ever made. However, the record was broken a few months later by Richard Mille with the launch of the RM UP-01 Ferrari. The ultra-thin watch beat the Bvlgari timepiece by 0.05 mm; thus, it became a yardstick for razor-thin watchmaking. Of course there are other ultra-thin watches as well. GMT India checks out some of the thinnest luxury watches ever made.
Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari
Definitely the thinnest watch ever made, the RM UP-01 Ferrari houses its entire movement into a case which is just 1.18 mm thick. In other words, the thickness could be reduced because the movement is fitted into the case and the caseback doesn’t double up as a baseplate. The ultra-flat Calibre RMUP-01 offers hours, minutes, seconds, and a function selector spread across the broad, impossibly thin case design. Richard Mille developed the movement in conjunction with Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi, a supplier of complications and works for many brands, including Richard Mille (the company was founded in 1986 by Dominique Renaud and Giulio Papi, two former watchmakers at Audemars Piguet). The innovative movement involved rethinking the escapement by building a titanium variable inertia balance wheel, which allowed for a reduction in thickness without losing any of the function and capability.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Ultra
Bvlgari has been breaking and setting records in ultra-thin watchmaking ever since the Finissimo collection was launched in 2014. The brand introduced the world's thinnest tourbillon, minute repeater, self-winding watch, and other such innovations. Till 2022, this was considered the thinnest watch ever made. And then the RM UP-01 Ferrari burst onto the horological scene.
The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Ultra measures 1.80 mm in thickness, thanks to the watch case getting integrated into the movement as a movement plate. The bezel and the case middle are made of titanium while the caseback or the mainplate is crafted from tungsten carbide. The movement bridges are made of traditional watchmaking materials though. The integrated titanium bracelet has half the thickness of a standard Octo Finissimo bracelet.
Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
The Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept turned heads at the 2018 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie with its gossamer-thin 2 mm case. The remarkable watch also won the prestigious Aiguille d’Or at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) in 2020. This award is reserved for the best overall watch among all categories (Best in Show). In order to produce this watch, Piaget embarked on a journey of miniaturisation that resulted in the filing of no fewer than five patents. All this led to the 2 mm hand-wound watch, with wheels as thin as 0.12 mm and the sapphire crystal reduced to a mere 0.2 mm.
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
The Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse watch measures about 5.9 mm. Its ultra-thin self-winding mechanical movement, Caliber 240, is 2.53 mm thick. The watch features an elliptical case with a blue gold sunburst dial, accentuated by gold hands and hour markers floating over its depths. Its design draws inspiration from the principle of the “golden ratio”, discovered by ancient Greek mathematicians. This “divine” proportion, expressed as a ratio of 1 / 1.6180, is at the root of some of the greatest works of art and architecture in the world.
JLC Reverso Tribute Small Seconds Pink Gold (Ultra-Thin)
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Tribute Small Seconds Pink Gold with a black dial (Ref. Q713257J)is one of the thinnest Reverso models released by the brand. Measuring 7.56 mm in thickness, the compact size is an impressive feat for the Reverso’s swivelling case. The Reverso Tribute Small Seconds is powered by the manually wound mechanical movement, Calibre 822. Fitting all 108 components, this mechanically elegant watch, with its ultra-thin case and precise movement, offers a power reserve of 42 hours.