Legendary Swiss watch brand Angelus made a comeback in 2015 by unveiling U10 Tourbillon Lumière. This mechanical marvel pays tribute to to some of the most influential and forward-thinking designers from the 60s and 70s, such as Dieter Rams and Achille Castiglioni. With its unique design and especially its vitrine-type construction, the U10 offers an extraordinary platform to showcase not only its oversized tourbillon, but also miniature works of wearable art. Angelus now presents an artistic line based on the U10 platform.
The first unique piece from this Angelus U10 art collection pays tribute to the old tradition of Mexican Calaveras. These are part of a very ancient tradition of memento mori. The Calaveras are mainly used in the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), where people remember and honor those who have passed on with calaveras, poems and other forms of symbolism. The U10 Tourbillon Calavera is a unique piece in stainless steel, which launches the Angelus U10 art collection.
Four years in the making, the U10 Tourbillon Calavera not only upholds the Angelus tradition of creating extremely inventive timepieces boasting finely-finished, in-house movements with long power reserves, it is also a timepiece of glorious contrasts.
On one hand the U10 Tourbillon Calavera is classic haute horlogerie. Its dead beat seconds complication – where the second hand advances in full steps of one second – derives from 18th-century pocket watches; the movement bridges and plates are in traditional nickel-silver that is bevelled and polished; and the traditional 2.5Hz / 18,000 vph of the screwed balance with Breguet-overcoil is a throwback to some of Angelus’ early pocket watches.
And yet, the modernist display, innovative engineering and state-of-the-art materials and finishing ensure that the U10 Tourbillon Calavera can equally be viewed as a paragon of cutting-edge, contemporary watchmaking.
Flying tourbillon on full show thanks to deconstructed movement and duplex case. The configuration of the manual-winding calibre is decidedly avant-garde, with the tourbillon positioned far outside of the movement, displayed alone as a dazzling mechanical sculpture in its own sapphire crystal vitrine.
The generously-proportioned – 62.75 mm x 38 mm x 15 mm – case, which took over two years to develop, features no fewer than seven sapphire crystals. All the crystals are bevelled, polished and subtly protrude from the case, creating expressive three-dimensionality.
Four of these crystals – including one wrapping 90° over the end of the case – surround the tourbillon, allowing unfettered views to the beating heart of the timepiece. The large windows also let light flood in and shine a spotlight on this mechanical centrepiece. The vitrine aspect of the tourbillon space is cleverly enhanced by light-absorbing, matte black PVD finish on the interior walls encasing the tourbillon.
The stainless steel used to make the case is BO-988 specific steel. This annealed steel is of a higher quality than the usual 316L steel found in timepiece cases because it contains fewer impurities, is less liable to corrode and is more biocompatible. Its finer grain size allows for a better standard of polishing and higher level of finish.
With its generous 16.25 mm diameter, the hand-polished tourbillon cage is crafted from weight-saving stainless steel, while titanium has been chosen for the tourbillon bridge due to its strength and shock-absorbing qualities. The flying tourbillon configuration does not need an upper supporting bridge and offers unimpeded views to the top of the regulator. The combination of nickel-silver, titanium and stainless steel in a watch movement is unique and especially the magenta lacquer for the bridge of the tourbillon cage.
Supporting the two mainspring barrels (which are in series for better timekeeping precision) is a bridge featuring a high-tech laser-engraved, satin-finished, criss-cross pattern. The two ratchets are also laser-engraved and enamelled.
A large diameter one-minute tourbillon requires significant energy, which is amply supplied by the dual main spring barrels. When fully wound, the Angelus A100 calibre provides 90 hours of optimal power. The two mainspring barrels are optimally sized in a special ratio for a flatter torque curve, which maximizes accuracy throughout for the full 90 hours.
The hour and minute hands – brushed finished, rhodium-treated and filled with blue lacquer – are actually set into the concave dial made of grey-tinted sapphire. Like the interior of the tourbillon vitrine, the walls of the dial recess have also been bead-blasted to a matte finish and then black treated. Tiny holes drilled into the dial at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and filled with Super-LumiNova create bright white markers.
In a neat touch highlighting the meticulous thought that has gone into every aspect of the U10 Tourbillon Calavera, the dead beat seconds hand rotating flush with the top of the dial features a counter weight on its short end. Each passing second marked by the hand aligns perfectly with the radial white and yellow lines printed onto the dial.
While the dead beat seconds hand’s step-by-step motion is the result of a traditional horological complication, the stepped seconds is also reminiscent of quartz watches. Completing the indications on the side of the case is the intuitive linear power reserve featuring a rhodium-treated hand filled with blue lacquer.
Model: U10 Tourbillon Calavera
Hours, minutes, central dead beat seconds, one-minute flying tourbillon, linear power reserve indication
Calibre: A-100, mechanical hand-winding tourbillon movement
Complications: One-minute flying tourbillon
Dimensions: 52.10 mm x 30.40 mm
Thickness: 7.50 mm
Power reserve: 90 h, double barrel
Frequency: 2.5Hz / 18,000 vph
Tourbillon: 16.25 mm cage diameter, Swiss lever escapement, screwed balance and hairspring with Breguet overcoil
Movement decoration: Nickel-silver movement, rhodium treated with haute horlogerie finishing: satin-finished main plate with laser engraved pattern, satin-finished bridges with chamfered and polished edges, plate dial side with sunray satin-finish, circular satin-finished wheels, screws with bevelled and mirror-polished heads, two laser-engraved and enamelled ratchets
Tourbillon finishing: bead-blasted and satin-finished titanium tourbillon bridge, entire tourbillon cage with hand-chamfered and polished edges and either satin-finished or mirror-polished surfaces
Colour: Translucent-grey coated concave sapphire and black outer ring
Double white (C1) Super-LumiNova dots at 12 o’clock
Single white (C1) Super-LumiNova dots at 3, 6 & 9 o’clock
Hour, minute & power reserve hands: Brushed-finished, rhodium-treated, with blue lacquer
Dead beat seconds hand: Magenta lacquered
Material: BO-988 specific annealed stainless steel, bead-blasted and treated with black PVD on the inside
Dimensions: 62.75 mm x 38 mm
Thickness: 15 mm including sapphire crystals
Sapphire crystals: 7 in total, treated with anti-reflective coating
Back: See-though sapphire crystal
Water-resistant: 30 m
Hand-stitched black alligator leather
Buckle: Stainless steel folding buckle