Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus is a "new old brand" that was recently brought back under the larger La Joux-Perret manufacture umbrella (owned by the Citizen group) which includes sister brand Arnold & Son. A good way of thinking about Angelus in relation to Arnold & Son is that while they both feature interesting and mostly complicated original watches, Arnold & Son is inspired by the past while Angelus is more contemporary or futuristic in their design approach.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Much that impresses us from the two brands are the type of things which can be considered the brainchild of designer and engineer Sebastien Chaulmontet. Angelus was actually specifically brought back because of his personal appreciation of the historic name. For more information on this, click above on the brand name to read additional articles published on aBlogtoWatch about Angelus. For now, let's focus on the Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon and my hands-on look at it from when I checked it out back at Baselworld 2016. To get a good primer on the watch with a detailed look at the technical elements as well as more brand context, please read our debut post of the Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon watch here.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

In my opinion, the Arnold & Son / Angelus duo of brands is exactly what a lot of collectors should be interested in these days if they are seeking a combination of design, complexity, value, and exclusivity. I am not sure of the combined production for each of the brands but I know that Arnold & Son produces less than 1,000 watches per year, and Angelus is even less than that. With that said each new model comes with a different case and movement (of course, there are a few line extensions from time to time), and that isn't something you see very often at all.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

What I like the most is the combination of aesthetic refinement and focus on mechanical elements which appeal to the deepest part of what makes us watch nerds. Again, all of this is thanks to Sebastien. The Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon is meant to be an exemplar of what a very contemporary tourbillon should be, in addition to offering exceptional visibility to the movement. I should note right now that there are two versions of the watch available - a fact that can be very easy to miss. The difference is the use of a totally transparent sapphire crystal caseback on one, and the use of a translucent "one-way mirror" style caseback on the other.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

This use of two caseback options started with the Arnold & Son Time Pyramid Translucent watch (hands-on here). Why the choice? Well, off the wrist the totally transparent back looks cool, but on the wrist it can be strange for some people to stare at their arm and hair through the watch. Interestingly enough, Arnold & Son seems to report that more people still opt for the totally transparent models, but I think there is value to the neat translucent ones as well when it comes to wearing them a lot.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The entire point of the U20 case and caliber A-250 movement is to provide exceptional visibility to the movement. For this reason, Angelus decided to call it an "ultra-skeleton." This begins with the case that is 42mm wide (just 10.3mm thick) which uses a "box-style" domed sapphire crystal over the front and rear. Sandwiched in the middle is black NPT carbon fiber as well as titanium. Water resistance is 30 meters. This is clearly an extremely contemporary design both in aesthetics and materials.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon's A-250 movement (which appears to be barely there) is a fascinating assortment of transparent sapphire crystal plates to keep everything together and blued-titanium bridges. Other materials such as plated brass, steel, and gold are used for the rest of the movement. Functionally, the movement indicates just the time, but also includes a flying tourbillon - because "why not?"

The movement operates at 3Hz (21,600bph) with a long power reserve of 90 hours. The movement is also just 5.78mm thick and truly does look very appealing from all angles. Perhaps more important is legibility, which for such a skeletonized dial is actually quite decent, and a scale on the sloped chapter ring is used for further readability.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

On the wrist, the carbon fiber, sapphire crystal, and titanium case is comfortable being both light and well-fitted. Attached to the case is a black "stealth" alligator strap with a titanium buckle. The design altogether feels like a successful mixture of modern and traditional elements with a lot of visual pizazz yet a timeless appeal. I'd happily wear one of these Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon watches on a daily basis if only to accept all the attention that wearing it will likely receive. This is the type of watch I will not mind having watch nerd conversations about.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

I did mention that Angelus watch production is extremely limited - which is a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Only because this brand is essentially owned by a watch movement maker could they possibly produce so many original parts and a unique movement for such a limited run. Again, this is another reason why I see their products as being imminently collectible. Cost is pretty reasonable (relatively speaking, of course) for what you get. The Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon reference 0TCAB.U01A.C004T has a current price of US$69,950. angelus-watches.com

What do you think?
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  • IG

    Nice skeletonisation, but as all of them it works only with waxed wrist.

  • BrJean

    When I saw the previous ABTW article about this watch I thought that it was going to be another watch which looks fine on renderings but awful IRL. But now I have to admit that it looks great on the wrist! I enjoy deep multi-layered dials and here combination of blued bridges and silver gears makes the dial rich of details and keeps good legibility (at least for skeleton). I think that applied hour markers would make it even better. Thanks for the review!

  • ??????

    I absolutely fell in love with their U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton which is a total fun, bold, masculine, gears, superb movement design and even a price – while uber-luxury, but not to extreme: http://www.ablogtowatch.com/angelus-u40-racing-tourbillon-skeleton-watch/

    The U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon is impressive as well, but a bit too playful for my current tastes. I would prefer the matte black + glossy grey palette of the U40, which is simply my favorite watch so far.

  • I’m with Ariel, I could wear this watch (well either of the variations) every day. It is so gorgeous and is slim enough and legible enough that daily wear is very doable. One of my favorite watches from BaselWorld. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4a16dc0024dbccb5f61ecf8ea54c7724fa1832ef35355814d3985d9e6f3b8b43.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2fb2e62cc82ec4f4628fa8be1bf691e36971b546a77fbec4d395887addfb778c.jpg

    • ??????

      Absolutely agree. Love the slim profile and acceptable readability for a skeleton. The Angelus U40 Racing TS is simply my favorite watch of 2016 along with Arnold & Son Nebula. These watches must be such a joy to wear and wind them.

      • I love the U40 as well. But the “clean” implementation in this U20 does it for me. And I could go with either the dark tones of the U40 or the blue of this U20. And if we are talking A&S favorites, I have to include the Time Pyramid too. Cheers.

        • ??????

          I would be extremely delighted to have any of them.. 🙂 La-Joux-Perret are strong this year.

          • Yeah, Sebastien admired the Mark Carson Ka La Sport I was wearing at BaselWorld 2016, so I took it off and gave it to him. He said that he wouldn’t be able to give an a watch in return. Which I totally understood – but that a coup that would have been if it was possible. Ah…fantasy…
            Oh yeah, he did give me a copy of his then just published book: “Chronographs for Collectors”.

          • ??????

            Fine gesture from you, and I get why he couldn’t respond in a same way. But it would have been epic! I need to meet Sebastien and try to give him any of my watches LOL

          • He is such a cool guy. Just loves watches – and not just the ones he designs. So talented and creative and yet is just a regular guy. Does not seem like the image you might have of a Swiss watch company executive. And as Ariel mentioned, resurrecting Angelus was all his doing. He has been an Angelus collector for some time and when the brand name became available, he convinced his company to purchase the name and create a line of watches. A labor of love for him.

          • ??????

            I respect him for his passionate attitude to the work he does and I am so glad he iniciated the resurrection of such legend as Angelus. I only wish I could afford one of them some day.

        • U30’s pretty great too. I’m not a fan of the way the U10 looks but I respect it.

          • DanW94

            Agree, I like the U30 for it’s sheer technical prowess. Fly-back chrono, split seconds, tourbillon, all in an open dial framework. It’s got the Full Monty….

          • Yup, the U30 is my favorite Angelus.

    • I know a chap who is getting one with red hands for extra readability – will be interesting to see how it come out.

      • The hands do seem to disappear a little bit in the photos.

        • The hands are more legible than they appear in the photos.

      • Hmmm, might look OK or might be pretty terrible with red hands. Post a photo if you can when you see it.

  • The U20 is awesome. Beautiful, well made, original, and TEN TIMES better than the (very good) band U2.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Am proud to be a nerd !

  • SuperStrapper

    It is a very different watch with a fully transparent caseback, one that I don’t prefer. The Ti/NPT case is an interesting combo, the watch must be very light. The strap design is nice, I’m a fan. I have experimented a few times molding straps in a vacuum. It is a fun evolution to the standard appearance of a padded strap.

  • BNABOD

    Translucent all the way. No arm hair please and yes it looks awesome.

  • Shinytoys

    Beautiful execution in design, a fine watch all around. Make mine see through both sides of the watch, it looks like the movement is floating in air…

  • IanE

    Well, it will be interesting to see how much retained value there is when they become available pre-loved. Arnold & Son watches nearly all suffer dreadful depreciation, rather unfairly, but still you need to be sure they are a keeper!

  • Gotta go with the mirrored one.

  • Yanko

    I never liked skeleton watches. To me, they are like reading a book full of monstrous neologisms and foreign words, which apparently hold an exotic fascination for some, but not for me.

  • Gokart Mozart

    I think Arnold & Son, and Angelus are possibly the best of the new up and coming premium brands in terms of movement and case design that are not totally limited production brands.

    I do not think they have released any weak watches. The only thing I can criticise especially with A & S is the rather large watch diameters.

    The one other brand I would put in this category is Moser & Cie they also do stunning watches albeit with more traditional and simpler movements.

  • Qamar Shehzad

    Watches are designs in a very visionary way. It is attractive and interesting for us. When I read about the working of crystal and titanium, at that time my soul feels inner satisfaction. Because the movement is straight forward under stunning view.
    Regard: Qamar
    http://www.stylocollections.com/
    Thanks.

  • Ulysses31

    While I can see the appeal, I don’t really like the design of the bridges. They remind me of pieces of Lego Technic.