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Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On

Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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.

Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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.

Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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.

Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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.

Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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.

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Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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.

Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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.

Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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 $76,750arnoldandson.com

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  • Just a lovely watch. My only minor gripe (and this applies to a number of A&S watches) is that the length difference between the hour and minute could be greater to make reading the time on the sub-dial a bit easier.

    I always love going to Arnold & Son at Baselworld – great watches plus I get a chance to chat with their movement designer (officially Head of Innovation at Manufacture La Joux-Perret, Angelus SA and Arnold & Son SA), Dr. Sébastien Chaulmontet. And here are my wrist and back side shots of this fine watch… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dcfd520f380091b7938d64c3ac652c37f432cba993fefb42d07f045eb1185551.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f46881ecb2afd51cafb843645b924a3afcd76698fb29a5ebf22889783f801696.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a8ca93ba3daa997f3d6cc5798499ed6befff5d686d70637fbb21954903939575.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8793c89b5be6468aaa7183ebf582ff52c075f0d0240f9c68e06efef9d398a619.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2759924f19831e13d943cf29a6ae153668554bd87e4b7fc52d5072e6f92ace6a.jpg

    • spiceballs

      Nice pix, thx Mark.

  • laup nomis

    Achingly beautiful.
    Its legibility is not as important as its looks. It’s probably still quicker to lift this to the exact angle and light, and then squint at the dial to see the time. Than it is to get your phone from your pocket, turn it on, and read the time.
    (Its like high-heels, they look lovely, but as shoes you can’t actually walk in them).

  • MEddie90

    I’m not sure if I prefer it to the regular version but its still stunning and one of the more interesting tourbillons on the market. I normally don’t like exposed escapements but this is one that’s worth looking at and is well integrated into the design of the watch instead of looking like an afterthought. The disk like cage is absolutely gorgeous and the choice to not mount the balance and tourbillon coaxially helps keep it slim.

    Keep up the good work A&S

    • Yeah, the off axis tourbillon is one of my favorite parts of this watch too. And I imagine that it also improves the timekeeping within the minute of rotation as it has better “poise” (meaning static balance) compared to conventional tourbillons which are heavier on the side that has the escape wheel hanging of of it – and yes this does effect accuracy during the various positions of the cage during a single rotation when the watch is in a vertical orientation (I know this as I put an Chinese tourbillon on a timing machine a couple of years ago and was aghast at the variation from escape at 3 compared to the 9 o’clock position). Cheers.

      • I am not entirely on board. The escape wheel doesn’t hang, it is the driving force delivering the impulse. The balance is largely detached from the rest of the escapement during its oscillation and that is when poise comes into play. Arguably the balance wheel that pivots on the same axis as its tourbillon cage will have better poise than the one that pivots eccentrically to the carriage – just sayin!

        • I know what I saw in that one case. Suggest you try out a tourbillon on a timer and watch the rate eror during various phases of a single rotation and report back for us. I’m guessing you come across whirlwinds at your job.

          • I see a whirlwind or two! Will take a closer look at this and report back – I am only talking in terms of theory so who knows?

            I would argue that the error you observe has less to do with the relationship between the escape axis and the carriage axis, and more to do with the change in amplitude caused by the balance receiving an impulse with gravity assisting or dampening it. I don’t think this would be solved by positioning the carriage axis over the escape wheel axis, you would still have the impulse being delivered to the balance in a variety of positions – and essentially this is the entire purpose of the tourbillon! The goal is not for a tourbillon to rotate without deviation in amplitude, but for the overall deviation in rate to be adjusted in just one average position rather than many. Rate after all is measured over a longer period of time and in different positions.

            I would also counter that there is more of a potential to disrupt the poise when the carriage is on a different axis to the balance.

            That said, a more stable amplitude is obviously optimal – remind me, did you measure the amplitude or beat error? And was the measurement also made on a tourb like the one above?

          • Can’t recall what happened to the amplitude during a single rotation. But when the escape wheel was at 3 the watch ran faster (beat error) than it did when the escape wheel was at 9. Hence my susception gravity was causing the beat rate to not remain constant during a revolution of the tourbillon (when in the watch was in a vertical orientation). I know this is really esoteric as no really needs accuracy within a minute (unless you timing things and I think chronograph tourbillons are pretty rare). So even it I’m right, that a toubillon can average out at one minute resolution to an acceptable beat error, then it’s all good in the real world. But just like like isochronous errors, its still an irritant when you are looking at the timing machine.

            I wish I have an A&S tourbillon to to put on a timing machine!!!

            Cheers.

          • Mark it strikes me that Mr Adams needs to commission us to explore this and report!

          • I could ask (via an intermediary) Sebastien, who designed the movement, if this sort of thing is a factor or not. He did answer me back on another issue raised here on ABTW about a year or so ago (regarding power reserve and balance frequency). Besides, it will give me a chance to ask him if he finds time to wear his Mark Carson Ka La Sport watch. At BaselWorld this year, he was admiring the one I was wearing, so I took it off and gave it to him. He gave me a copy of his new book on chronometers (he was sorry he could not give me an A&S watch, but I knew that would not be the case, ha ha).

  • SuperStrapper

    Do these fluffy ‘titles’ actually do anything productive for a brand? ‘World’s thinnest tourbillion movement’. Did they sell a thousand watches due to that claim? And if they did, when Bvlgari came out and beat them 15 minutes later, did those thousand buyers kill themselves? But wait! Now A&S has the world’s thinnest skeletonized tourbillion movement! Huzzah!

    2 days later:

    XYZ brand announces world’s thinnest tourbillion movement, besting the A&S by a totally relevant 0.02mm!

    Following week:

    A&S releases world’s thinnest skeletonized tourbillion movement with blued screws! The planet rejoices! How is this possible!

    Who cares? It’s a nice watch, even if Bvlgari thinks it’s a fatty.

    • IanE

      Personally, were I looking at this price-point, I’d be reluctant to get a ‘thinnest’ anything as I’d be worried about fragility. Luckily for A&S, I am NOT looking (seriously, anyway) at this price-point!

    • Rupert Muller

      Agree.
      See our discussion of some months ago: http://disq.us/p/1512s0j

  • Richard Baptist

    The watch is a feat of engineering and I love it. But if I could ever afford to spend this amount on one watch, I would be looking at something from Lange & Sohne. Obviously not a problem I would have to wrestle with anytime soon.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    All that time to make,,and all that money to spend,……..and you can’t tell the time.

  • cg

    There’s a watch in there someplace! This is definitely for specific collector type which is not me! So who passed out the Surrealist LSD at this company?

  • Timestandsstill

    I continue to be enthralled by almost everything A & S does these last few years. For a non-independent manufacture they are coming up with some novel and well executed designs.

    • Agreed. As someone who lives in NY and is a member of the HS-NY I was devastated to miss this week’s lecture by Mr Chaulmontet…

  • Tom

    Incredible. Truly amazing to look at. I love Skeleton watches. Unfortunately entirely out of my price range. This place is great for very unique and affordable (sub £100) watches https://royaletimepieces.com

  • funNactive

    I like tourbillons but I don’t like small watch faces on a large watch face. I want the entire dial filled. It is interesting to look at.

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