Last year saw Angelus’ launch of the U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon (see photo below), a innovative piece using a layer of clear sapphire as its main plate, to which the movement bridges are fastened. This year, launched at Baselworld 2017, Angelus decided to push themselves further with the main plates for the new U21 Tourbillon and U22 Tourbillon, with the use of carbon fibre.
Let’s step back a bit first, and revisit the U20.
Released during Baselworld 2016, the U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon is special because rather than the skeletonisation of an existing movement, the start point was to have an open worked movement, so it was built from the ground up, so to speak.
The manual-wind Calibre A-250 movement is based on a sapphire main plate (created from a solid block of sapphire), with hand finished, blued skeletonised satin-finished titanium bridges. The absence of a dial, in combination with the main plate material, means that even by skeleton watch standards, the result is exceptional; it really does look like the movement is floating. At 6 o’clock there is a one-minute flying tourbillon.
To match the modernity of the use of sapphire in the movement, the U20 has added another unusual and contemporary touch – the case’s band made from NPT carbon fibre attached to titanium lugs, also making for an exceptionally lightweight watch.
So from the U20 to the U21 and U22.
Both the U21 and U22 share the 42mm size of the U20, with the same domed sapphire crystal, open case back, and water resistance of 30m. However, the case of the U21 is now carbon fibre and 18kt red gold.
As the core features of the U21 are the same as for its elder sibling, it also shows off the manual-wind Angelus Calibre A-250 with a one minute flying tourbillon, this time with an NPT carbon fibre main plate and solid 18kt red gold bridges. The clear main plate of its predecessor makes for an attractive and interesting watch (the U20 was one of my personal highlights from last year) but the use of carbon fibre makes it a completely different timepiece, not least of all because transparency is no longer at its heart.
Notwithstanding the absence of transparency, Arnold & Son are still calling both the U21 and U22 skeletonised in their naming, because there remains the skeletonised bridges etc, and the movement is still part of the dial, highlighting the carbon fibre. Along with the hour and minute markers there are rhodium-treated and lumed hands.
There may be the use of the very contemporary carbon fibre in an unusual way, but the use of red gold on the case, especially the lugs, gives it a more traditional twist.
Secondly, we have the U22, an amalgam of sorts, of the U1 and U22. It uses the same titanium and carbon fibre case of the U20, but with the addition of red hands and matching red minute markers.
Hour and minute markings are printed on the outer chapter ring as per the other two models but the rhdodium-treated hands have a fun element – red Super-LumiNova.
Movement wise it’s the same Calibre A-250 with carbon main plate of the U21, but with the titanium bridges of the U20, no longer blued.
In looking at all three of them, I’m still most partial to the U20 (one of my personal highlights of 2016), followed by the U22. As with the U20 from 2016, production of both the U21 and U22 will be limited to 18 examples each.