Angelus U10 Tourbillon Calavera
Angelus has been one of my favorite brands since I first saw them. I was a big fan of the U10 Tourbillon when it was launched, and now Angelus is launching a unique piece with artwork inspired by the Mexian day of the Dead.
From the earliest days of its conception, the master model U10 Tourbillon Lumière was imagined as a piece of mechanical art, paying tribute to some of the most influential and forward thinking designers from the 60s and 70s, such as Dieter Rams and Achille Castiglioni.
Now, Angelus is pushing the envelope even further by integrating striking visual art into this singular watch.
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. As such, Angelus will take on different themes from various artistic movements and integrate them with its U10.
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. Since Ancient Rome, Memento mori has been an important part of ascetic disciplines as a means of perfecting the character by cultivating detachment and other virtues, and by turning the attention towards the immortality of the soul and the afterlife. Symbolic reminders of mortality, what could have been a better theme to ornate the tourbillon watch displaying dead beat seconds than a mementos 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. Above all, it is a celebration of life and its transient nature.
A timepiece of glorious contrasts
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.
State-of-the-art movement materials, long power reserve and high precision
With its generous 16.25 mm diameter, the hand-polished tourbillon cage is crafted from weightsaving 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 a very healthy 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.
Indications and displays
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 SuperLumiNova 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. Indeed, Angelus has deliberately sought to evoke the era of quartz watches, which also have stepped seconds. Completing the indications on the side of the case is the intuitive linear power reserve featuring a rhodium-treated hand filled with blue lacquer.