December 7, 2016
by Ariel Adams
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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