back to top

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

This Angelus U51 Tourbillon Diver (reference 0TDCT.E01A.K008D) wristwatch is 100% nerd-bait and should be appreciated as such. It is wild, weird, impractical, and a product entirely built for and by our modern watch collector generation. Angelus as a mark is a historic name in wristwatches, now owned by the Japanese Citizen Group. How did that happen exactly? The circumstances can be boiled down to the intense interests of La Joux-Perret’s former technical lead Sebastien Chaulmontet — who is now an innovation leader at the Swiss mechanical movement maker Sellita.

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Chaulmontet’s work is most notable in many of his Arnold & Son watch and movement designs. What made him special as a designer is his tripartite interest in overall watch design, watch movement engineering, and watch collecting. Chaulmontet developed an interest in historic Angelus watches and even wrote a book about chronographs that featured many of them. By chance, he was offered the opportunity to purchase the Angelus brand name (though the brand was no longer producing watches). He managed to get La Joux-Perret to purchase it with the intention that Angelus would come back as a high-end, modern design equivalent to Arnold & Son’s more traditional aesthetic look. It was only later that the Citizen Group stepped in to purchase La Joux-Perret and its assets, including Angelus.

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Angelus, as a name, came back under Chaulmontet’s vision, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The first modern Angelus watch was the U10 Tourbillon, which reminds most people of a classic electric shaving razor you can wear on the wrist and is easily one of the most distinctive luxury watches on the planet. For the U51 Tourbillon Diver, Angelus’ goal was just that: to make a wildly elaborate 300-meter diving watch that contains a tourbillon. No, this isn’t the first tourbillon dive watch in the world (that strange trend began at least 10 years ago), but it is one of the only ones that have a satisfying artistic excuse for having been developed in the first place. According to Angelus, the principle creative forces behind the U51 watch are their Design & Graphics Manager Mr. Matteo Mercan, and their Head of Development & Production David Serra.

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Not only is the U51 a diver’s watch tourbillon, but it also sports a highly skeletonized manually wound movement and a hell of an interesting case. What I think all collectors can appreciate about this rare wristwatch is the sheer level of effort that went into coming up with this original creation. It doesn’t just have a unique-looking case but one in sharply-machined titanium that celebrates the fantasy utility this wrist machine was imagined up for. It is almost better that Angelus doesn’t explain for what purpose this product was mean to be used. That way each person who sees it can defer to their own imaginations.

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

As I mentioned above, the Angelus U51 Tourbillon Diver was designed by real watch nerds and collectors. That means that, at the least, the watch needs to be comfortable and wearable — and it is. In days past, something like the Angelus U51 (in theme) would not only have been much more expensive but also often unwearable, ergonomically speaking. The 45mm-wide grade 5 titanium case is surprisingly svelte-feeling (~12.5mm-thick) on the wrist and also wraps snugly around your arm. With the fitted rubber strap, this relatively lightweight and wrist-hugging timepiece is a pleasure to have on, though the wearer will be burdened with having to explain their choice of wristwatch to many an onlooker.

Advertisement

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The case has two crowns, one used for the inner rotating timing bezel, and the other to operate the movement. The inner rotating bezel works nicely and has a smooth action to each distinct click. The movement itself is, by necessity, pivoted to the side in order to accommodate this crown layout. The dial thus becomes asymmetrical with the tourbillon window being skewed to the left, as opposed to being in the center. At times, I look at the dial wanting more symmetry, but I know Angelus intentionally wanted the dial to be skewed like that, so I respect it. I also like how the dial elements are well-balanced, offering a skeletonized movement view that doesn’t have distracting empty sections. But speaking of empty sections, the cut-away view of the mainspring barrel does operate as a crude power-reserve indicator (by seeing how tightly wound the mainspring is).

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

If I could make any change to the U51 Tourbillon Diver, it would be to help promote the visibility of the hour and minute hands a bit more. As a skeletonized watch that also has a number of things going on over the dial, legibility is already under attack. Add the various overlapping colors and surface textures, and the dial can be a challenge to read at a glance. Legibility is a real issue in sport watches but a minor issue in the desirability of the U51 Tourbillon Diver. The watch is so interesting, so limited, and with such a good story for fellow watch collectors, I really can’t see the dial as being a reason this watch wouldn’t be fully celebrated by the community. It does, however, mean that Angelus has some ability to tweak the design for future versions, even though the product’s creator is no longer at the company.

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Also produced in-house, the Angelus U51 Tourbillon Diver includes the skeletonized and manually wound A-310 caliber movement that operates at 4Hz with a decent power reserve of 5 days (120 hours). What also makes it interesting is that it has both a traditional subsidiary seconds dial and the seconds indication via the tourbillon window. The movement is otherwise designed to be practical and slim, as well as to be skeletonized. Important features include silicon in the regulation system for added dependability and a ball-bearing-mounted tourbillon cage for added durability. As a haute horology item, there is certainly hand-finishing but this isn’t an A. Lange & Sohne movement. It does, however, represent something open-minded and inspired that we rarely see from the great conservative brands.

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Angelus U51 Diver Tourbillon Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Angelus U51 case deserves to be featured in more models, and I am sure that Angelus will slowly play with different variations of the U51 Tourbillon Diver outside of this toy-like blue and orange model or the blue and yellow model (with a slightly different bezel that came before it). It makes for an excellent enojy to the collection because the bright and sporty colors exemplify the sport watch theme Angelus is going for. Tool watch devotees will no doubt find issue with the U51 Tourbillon Diver, even though it does satisfy its water resistance requirements. People should, instead, put Angelus in the same category as MB&F or Urwerk, as wearable “horological artwork.” The Angelus U51 Tourbillon Diver might veer closer to traditional timepiece than exotic art object in sheer aesthetics, but it nevertheless has an emotionally compelling story that will help it earn the future cult-status it deserves. Limited to just 25 pieces in this blue and orange color execution (a few others versions have been made thus far, including blue and yellow, as well as all-black), the Angelus U51 Tourbillon Diver reference 0TDCT.E01A.K008D has a retail price of 32,800 Swiss Francs. See more at the Angelus website here.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Angelus
>Model: U51 Tourbillon Diver reference 0TDCT.E01A.K008D
>Price: 32,800 Swiss Francs
>Size: 45mm-wide, 12.47mm-thick.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Easily comfortable enough to wear as a daily timepiece, and almost practical enough, as well. Best as a playful show-off watch around those in the timepiece-know.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Experienced watch collector who knows the value of mechanics and doesn’t want to overspend while being comfortable sporting niche/boutique luxury Swiss watch brands.
>Best characteristic of watch: Incredible execution of modern horology by a collector for other watch collectors. Case design and manufacturing is impressive and overall slim package for a 300mm water resistant diver’s watch with two sapphire crystals.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Dial legibility is limited by its own design. Movement skewed at angle to accommodate double crowns has some aesthetic disadvantages. Movement does not have a power-reserve indicator.

Explore

Comments

Disqus Debug thread_id: 7652326548

  • Too bad it’s outside my price range as I like it a lot. The Angelus logo should have been placed higher on the crystal so the hour hand is less obstructed but that’s my only gripe (out of my not being able to afford of the 25 pieces). Ok and 45 mm is sorta wide, but I can live with that on this type of watch.

    • spice

      Agree, and I’d prefer a full-size second sweep hand, which is more useful to a real diver.

      • The ISO spec only says you need some indication that the watch is running. A seconds hand is not strictly speaking the only way to do this. Plus I can’t think of anything that needs timing down to the second while on a dive. Cheers.

  • Jon Heinz

    I’ve said this before, but I want one. Out of my reach right now, but I can see it happening sometime before I’m too old. Saving the pennies…

    • SuperStrapper

      There is no way that these hold up in the secondary market. Keep an eye on chrono24, etc.

  • SuperStrapper

    So, i like the watch. I’m not sure why because it has a number of factors i just don’t appreciate in watches. Notably the lack of a dial, but the watch/movement is deep enough where despite the sleketonisation you don’t really get a view of the wrist underneath.
    I’ve also had a somewhat hard time with the reemergence of this brand, many of the initial releases just didnt come through so great for me, but if this watch shows how they are settling in then I’m getting piqued. This does look like a nicely executed “luxury diver”. The strap is nicely done and matches the watch well. I love this handset too. Again another hands-on review of a diver without a lume shot, please stop doing that. I’m not going to be the only one to mention this. I’m not so offended by the logo being printed on the sapphire, but the logo is big and uses more than one colour. I would suggest that placing it in the dead centre of the crystal would have been a better play, all it would do I somewhat interfere with your view of the centre pinion, you’d have full access to time telling and the tourbillon.
    This watch ain’t passing iso6425 but it’s still very cool.

    You don’t see many tourbillon dove watches, and every time I do i can’t help but remember all those years ago Ariel, you getting your first tourbillon, that bizarre Chinese diver (memorgin?) And your excited hands on review of it.

  • Pete L

    Lovely. Big, bold and looks beautifully made. For a tourbillon not stratospheric money either but unfortunately out of my price range.

  • DanW94

    Hey, I love the watch but calling it a diver is like calling the Kardashians actresses. It’s a total bastardization of the word.

    • Not to disagree but how many people dive with their Rolex Submariners?

      • DanW94

        I’m not a diver so I don’t know what’s normally worn by the majority of divers (Seikos?), but my guess is not a one wears a Rolex.

        • That’s my guess too. But recreation divers might be different. But the more a watch costs, the less likely I’d be to risk losing it underwater (as in diving where the bottom far exceeds your dive plan and human capabilities). Cheers.

        • Mikita

          90% dive computers, 10% Seiko SKX007.

  • cluedog12

    Really fantastic skeletonization here. The modern skeleton is one of the few types of watches where the extra $25,000 that goes into a front-scratch movement architecture is easily noticed and appreciated, even if you weren’t a trained watch hound.

    Angelus has such a hit here, that even at $33,000 it will find some love from this crowd. Basically the same watch without the tourbillon would be a legit hit if the price could be kept around $10,000 i.e. Rolex Sub territory.

  • SuperStrapper

    Your point is very valid but i still think they would tank on price second hand. I doubt many would leave original ownership with just 25 but just because they are that limited doesn’t mean they’ll obtain some kind of status.

  • Totally agree – the tourbillon is a fair enough indication that the watch is running! Good observation there…