In 2013, Arnold & Son raised eyebrows with their Ultra-thin Tourbillon Escapement “UTTE” watch which, back then, was the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch. The watch was just 8.34mm thick and housed the calibre A&S8200 which measures just 2.97mm thick. Though it has since lost the title of thinnest tourbillon watch to the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon (hands-on here), the UTTE still remains an impressive masterpiece.
Skeletonizing a watch is no easy feat. And it’s doubly hard for an ultra-thin movement, mainly because the movement is already so thin that removing any more material is bound to affect structural rigidity. As a result, the A&S8200 calibre in the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch had to be thoroughly redesigned and re-engineered. The result is the A&S8220 calibre, which measures 3.3mm thick. The extra thickness, according to Arnold & Son, is necessary to guarantee rigidity as they sought to skeletonized the movement. Still, let’s face it, 3.3mm for a tourbillon movement with two barrels and a power reserve of at least 90 hours is seriously impressive.
The new A&S8220 calibre boasts some major revisions. For instance, the main plate has been heavily modified to reveal as much as possible of the inner workings. But perhaps what’s most visible to owners is that the tourbillon cage has been totally reworked 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. In addition, the tourbillon cage is relatively large as compared to the movement. It measures 14mm across, while the movement itself is 32mm. This means it’s the single most dominating component of the dial, and on top of that is the fact that the cage is fully hand-polished and chamfered, making it a real visual treat for owners.
On the opposite side of this Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton, the bottom plate of the manufacture grade A&S1309 is revealed. The movement is made of nickel silver (also called German silver or Maillechort, an alloy of aluminum, nickel and zinc) which was rhodium-plated and decorated with Côtes de Genève. The wheels are satin-finished and provide a contrasting three dimensional texture into the bottom plate, and between the chamfered edges of these bridges, the gold gear train can be viewed. The movement is hand wound obviously, which contributes to its thinness at a mere 3.9mm. It features 42 stones and provides a 40 hour power reserve whereas the double accounts oscillate at 21,600vph, or 3Hz. This is definitely a highly elegant motion, but compared to the depth of detail given by the skeletonized dial, the reverse side of the movement almost feels like a letdown.Despite the large 44mm case, the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton wears fairly well, with its slender 9.89mm profile easily slipping under a shirt cuff and the tapered lugs nicely hugging the wrist. The situation is made of 4N rose gold along with the sapphire crystal has anti-reflective coating on either side to help eliminate distracting reflections. My mind went into the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre models, but where they provide twin barrels controlled by the exact same balance wheel, the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton goes full monoblock style for each dial, in the event the Hi-Fi analogy is at all apt for describing a wristwatch.
And as you would expect, the A&S8220 calibre is also treated to the finest haute horlogerie finishing: The main plate and bridges are constructed using nickel silver and finished with Côtes de Genève rayonnantes; The edges are also polished and chamfered; The steel components, gears, and ratchets are all satin-finished with their edges polished and chamfered; The screws have bevelled and polished heads, and finally, the jewels are placed in polished countersinks; Reading of the time is done off a sapphire disc with printed numerals at 12 o’clock; The hour and minute hands are golden and feature white lacquered tips.
The Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton comes in a 42mm 5N red gold case, which is as exquisitely crafted as the movement. It is stepped, tapering from top to bottom. The dial part, which is the widest section, also features an extra-large sapphire glass to showcase the caliber A&S8220 in all its glory. The bottom of the case is made narrower to fit snugly on the wrist.
The Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch will be limited to just 50 pieces, and each watch will come with a hand-stitched brown or black alligator leather strap with a matching 5N red gold buckle with the Arnold & Son logo. Price is $76,750. arnoldandson.com