In 2013, Arnold & Son managed the incredible feat of creating a super thin tourbillon watch called the Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement, or simply, the UTTE watch. The watch was just 8.34mm thick, while the movement itself was a scant 2.97mm thick. Though it has lost the title of the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch to the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, that hasn’t stopped Arnold & Son from improving its UTTE watch. Earlier this year, they debuted the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch, which claims the title of world’s thinnest skeleton tourbillon watch.
Creating an ultra-thin watch is no easy feat. First of all (and obviously), there’s the difficulty of manufacturing components to be as thin as they can possibly be. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there’s the need to ensure that while the watch is as thin as it can be, reliability and practicality are not adversely affected. As the watch and its components become thinner, they can also become less sturdy and resistant to outside forces. In other words, they might be more susceptible to being flexed and damaged.
Skeletonizing an already super-thin movement is therefore doubly hard – mainly because removing any more material is bound to affect structural rigidity. As a result, the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch’s A&S8220 calibre is actually slightly thicker than the A&S8200 calibre in the original UTTE watch. The new A&S8220 calibre measures 3.3mm thick, which is roughly 0.3mm thicker. Arnold & Son says the extra thickness is necessary to ensure that the movement doesn’t flex while on the wrist.
Nevertheless, let’s not kid ourselves, a thickness of 3.3mm is still seriously impressive for a skeletonized tourbillon movement with two barrels and a power reserve of 90 hours, or nearly 4 days. While the movement is thicker, Arnold & Son has managed to keep the overall thickness of the watch case the same. That means the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch is just 8.34mm thick, the same as the first UTTE watch.
On the wrist, the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch is as you would expect, that is to say it wears extremely thin and is very light. It sits comfortably on the wrist too, partly because of the well-made hand-stitched brown alligator strap, and partly because the case tapers toward the case back. The taper also accentuates the thinness of the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch. Despite these little features, with its 42mm-wide 5N red gold case, the UTTE Skeleon watch still has an impressive wrist presence. Partly, this is also because of its rather large tourbillon cage.
One of the revisions made to the new A&S8220 calibre is that the tourbillon cage has been reworked as well to show off more of the mechanism while retaining the three-dimensional design that has become a signature of the earlier Arnold & Son UTTE watch. Furthermore, the tourbillon cage measures 14mm across, while the movement is just 32mm. This makes the tourbillon the single most visually commanding component of the skeletonized dial. And as if it needed any help to stand out even more, the entire tourbillon cage is hand-polished and chamfered, which means it shines like a star when shown off in the right light.
And you would expect, the rest of the movement has been finished to an extremely high standard as well. The main plate and bridges are made of German Silver and decorated with finely executed Côtes de Genève. The edges of the main plates and bridges have also been finely chamfered and polished by hand. The screw are polished and the screws and jewels all sit snugly in polished countersinks. It’s a real visual treat for any mechanical watch enthusiast, and the fact that the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch is skeletonized means its lucky owners won’t have to turn it around to be able to admire all the excellent handiwork that has gone into the watch.
On the flip side, legibility has been slightly affected since now there is no real dial to speak of. The hands on the first UTTE watch were already small, but now that there is no dial to provide contrast, the hands of the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch, which are gold and have white lacquered tips, are harder to see over the sapphire disc with printed hour numerals. Still, that’s a small price to pay to be able to see the Arnold & Son’s A&S8220 calibre in all of its mechanical glory. The Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton is limited to just 50 pieces, and the price is $76,750. arnoldandson.com