Arnold & Son Makes World’s Thinnest Tourbillon Watch

Arnold & Son Makes World’s Thinnest Tourbillon Watch

This is the UTTE watch by Arnold & Son, and apparently it is the world's thinnest tourbillon. The trend of watches getting ever chunkier year after year seems to live on without disturbance - but the race for the ultimate in finesse and subtle elegance can be just as stirring as well and the manufacture of Arnold & Son is here to prove that point by releasing something to excite those who admire such fine treats of horology. With their  double-balance and earlier on with the inside-out watches they made it pretty clear that they are everything but shy when it comes to reaching beyond the strict frontiers of fine watch making. Now, however, they have ventured onto violent waters, proudly possessed by one of the ultra-thin greats: Piaget.

Technical extravagance is sometimes easier to achieve than creating something strictly abiding rules and borders - and when one sets himself to the challenge of originating something that's ultra-thin (the thinnest ever, in fact), suddenly those borders might feel uncomfortably close! Arnold & Son took their time with years in research and development while creating the thinnest tourbillon movement in the world. Those days are over and they have released their latest piece from the Instrument Collection - the one that favors clean, uncluttered looks to busy dials and overlapping scripts - they are here to dethrone Piaget, the previously undisputed king of ultra-thin.

This 2013 Baselworld novelty Ultra Thin Tourbillon Escapement (UTTE for short and as they like to refer it as) has a movement that is only 2.97 mm thick, something that definitely has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated! The size of the previous recorder movement of Piaget, the 600P is 3.5 mm in thickness. Further improvements over the "old king" is in the power reserve: with its double-barrels the UTTE movement has an impressive 80 hours of power reserve, nearly twice as much as that of the Piaget movement of 44 hours.  As a final major difference the 600P has a power reserve as an additional function, while the A&S8200 has hours, minutes, and the tourbillon - since that it is a one-minute tourbillon and the grid for reading the seconds is provided as well, it could be considered as a seconds counter.

Onto the similarities: both movements sport a flying tourbillon, so there are no bridges holding the rotating cage from above. The reasoning behind this choice is two-fold: it takes away 'undesired' thickness, and it allows for a clearer view on the tourbillon - that is a most welcome solution as the cage in the UTTE movement is rather large at 14 mm in diameter! The cage itself is built to be spherical and hence is 'devoid of any flat surfaces', and as a final step to provide the absolute viewing pleasure it has been raised from the plane of the movement all the way through the dial, making it to the same height as the hour and minute hands.

The A&S8200 calibre will make it into two models, each of which will be hand-built in a limited edition of 50 of the 18-carat red gold version with silvery-white Cotes de Geneve rayonnantes dial, and another 50 of the (fairly scarcely used) palladium version with the light-grey, straight Cotes de Geneve dial for more bold contemporary aesthetics. Either of these 42 mm wide cases will have a thickness of just 8.34 mm with sapphire crystals in the front and at the back of the watch. Price of the red gold version is 68,420 Swiss francs, while the one in palladium will cost 59,400 francs.

In today's world of horology, when there are simultaneous races being fought for the fastest, the largest, the most complicated of watches it can truly be a good idea for a manufacture to relax and quietly create something ultra-fine, ultra-hard to beat: something ultra-thin. Less is often more, and this paradox could very well be that extra bit of help putting Arnold & Son on the wish-list of more collectors and watch lovers alike.

  • somethingnottaken

    It’s a beautiful watch. I wish I could afford one!

  • Ryan B

    2.97 is a ridiculously thin tourbillon and quite the achievement. I congratulate them on such an excellent watch.

  • Ulysses31

    Nicely done, Arnold & Son.  It makes that Zenith Christophe Colomb look like a snake trying to swallow an ostrich egg.

    • Kris C

      I don’t know that this is much in the way of an appropriate comparison: Arnie n’ Son doing an excellent job squishing a movement down to impossibly thin and dressy proportions, Zenith doing an ultimately facinating job of slapping you in the face with tourbillion technology and muscle. Both watches have their merits, but shre very little in the way of common ground, and in my opinion, the Colombe watch is just so much more of an achievement.
      This A&S piece is no slouch though, and actually seems to make some slight visual reference to a few Jacot Droz pieces my memory stirs. The case design is a little oddd here methinks: the stubby lugs don’t match the rest of the design, and the effect to my eye is a reduction in dressiness. They don’t exactly pull this into a sports watch category, but they are misplaced just the same.

      • Ulysses31

        Kris C They’re not directly comparable, but what i’m comparing if anything is the design ethos and motivation behind them.  There’s a lot that I find very beautiful about the Zenith but a couple of things I just see as really stupid too.  The Arnold & Son is pretty simplistic and subtle next to the Zenith and yet I would find it much more practical to wear day to day and ultimately grow more affectionate towards for the amount of time I could spend with it.  The Zenith on the other hand would be something i’d have to admire more often than not behind a piece of glass every now and then in passing, and I wouldn’t find that very satisfying.

        • Kris C

          Am I old fashioned, or just poor in that I find the thought of a daily-wear tourbillon somewhat ridiculous?

        • Ulysses31

          Kris C Depends on how you look at them.  If you see a toubillon the way the industry wants you to see them then yes, it might seem strange.  I imagine many years ago when every self-respecting gentlemen had a pocket watch, keeping a tourbillon on your person every day (of those watches that had them equipped) wouldn’t seem so outlandish.  So perhaps you’re old fashioned, or perhaps not quite old fashioned enough 🙂

  • nateb123

    It’s been a while since a tourbillon has elicited a yawn out of me.  The basic design language is there but the watch does not use finishing to create any visual depth.  So yeah, it’s thin but at the cost of looking flat when it doesn’t have to.  I’ll take any of the gorgeously designed Piaget tourbillions over this.  The Emperador Coussin if we’re picking favourites.

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