Flash News: Arnold & Son Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement 2015 Versions

By Thierry Ané on April 29, 2015

An important trademark of Arnold & Son’s “Instrument Collection” is that the dial aesthetic of each timepiece is always carefully thought to allow for an unobstructed display of the various complications it houses. When you realise that so much care goes into the layout design of every masterpiece, the apparent simplicity of a particular model could be very misleading.

The timepiece that best illustrates my point is undoubtedly the elegant “Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement” presented in 2013 in red gold and palladium versions. At first glance, one catches the purity of the hours and minutes sub-dial forming the figure “8” with the tourbillon cage on an otherwise stripped down dial, all of this in an extremely classic albeit perfectly crafted 42 mm case: but look closer and you will realise the incredible care and attention to details that go into this one-minute tourbillon model!

First of all, the manually-wound A&S8200 calibre that animates this watch is just 2.97 mm thick allowing for a final 8.34 mm cased watch: a definite asset for a dress watch. Despite this elegant thinness, the tourbillon cage measures an impressive 14 mm in diameter allowing for a perfect symmetry with the silvery opaline hours and minutes sub-dial and an enhanced visual appeal for the tourbillon.

To make this flying escapement even more striking, the brand’s technical team hide all visible screws except those on the regulator and opted for a totally spherical construction. Indeed, no flat surfaces can be found in this tourbillon cage: only rounded parts making this tourbillon stand out from the rest of the movement and rise to the level of the hours and minutes hands!

Deceptively simple, the rest of the dial boasts a multilevel structure with alternating finish to enhance the overall sensation of depth. Needless to say, the decoration of the A&S8200 movement entirely developed, designed and manufacture in the brand’s La Chaux-de-Fonds workshops is on par with its technical performance. The attention to details is such that the watchmakers even opted for different finishes to complement the case colours: while Côtes de Genève rayonnantes and rhodium treatment adorn the nickel-silver calibre inside the red gold model, a vertical Côte de Genève pattern and a NAC grey coating were selected for the palladium alternative.

Given the immediate success of this exquisite piece of Fine Watchmaking, the 50 units produced in each material were quick to sell out and the brand introduced two more renditions in 2014 (red gold or palladium with silvery white and light grey dials respectively), also limited to 50 pieces each. If you factor in the Asprey edition and the miniature-painted version that is part of the HMS Beagle SetWatches: Arnold & Son HMS Beagle Set a total of six renditions of the refined Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement have been introduced so far.

Proving that they can offer other alternatives while remaining faithful to the exclusivity and elegance of the “UTTE” model, Arnold & Son is now unveiling three more interpretations of their famous tourbillon timepiece for 2015, all of them strictly limited to 50 pieces. The palladium model is now available with a flawless black lacquered or a stunning Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial while the red gold alternative now comes with a pristine white mother-of-pearl dial, all of them still featuring the silvery opaline sub-dial for the hours and minutes and traditional blued hands with skeleton arrow tips.

Of course the palladium model with black lacquered dial is extremely refined. This dark black complemented by the alligator strap and the cold shine of palladium all work together to create a timeless classic. There is a subtle touch of modernity, though, that exudes from this watch and the future owners will surely find it as great-looking in a decade or so as they do today.

For me, however, the two versions with mother-of-pearl are the real attention-grabbers. Whether white or black the texture of this natural material brings an entirely new dimension to the dial, making it all the more fascinating. It does not distract from the elegance of the hours and minutes sub-dial or the mechanical beauty of the tourbillon: it merely focuses your attention in their direction.

The variation of shades of the mother-of-pearl and its irresistible unevenness make for the perfect decoration and remind us that Nature is sometimes a better artist than human beings can be. I wonder whether stone-cut dials would be too thick to fit in this slender case because if not, this opens the door to an entire world of “natural” decorations for a timepiece that seems conceived for it! But for now, I do not want to speculate on which other possible rendition the brand could create: just enjoy the beauty of the newly released models…

For more information please visit the Arnold & Son web site.