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.
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 DBG Skeleton is the most recent addition to the DBG (Double-Balance GMT) collection that we reviewed the first, non-skeletonized variant of in larger detail back in 2013. For all those unfamiliar with this piece, it has basically two movements which share a winding system, housed in one watch. Skeletonized, this view looks amazing and is the best illustration of Arnold & Son’s relentless progress.First, a tiny bit more about Arnold & Son’s DBG system. Every time display is powered with its barrel, with its own equipment train, escapement, and equilibrium, while sharing one winding system. While this isn’t always unprecedented, due to the offsets of the shared elements compared to the individual parts, it isn’t always pretty, and seldom skeletonized. However, with the DBG Skeleton, we see almost perfect symmetry about the dial and caseback.The unusual nature of the in-house A&S1309 movement allows for a few additional mechanical and practical benefits. For example, because of the separate socket, gear train, and escapement/balance, the GMT purpose comprises a “minutes” hand instead of the standard 24-hour counter just. Every time zone display from the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton can be put to incremental quarters of the hour. So for a few Indian, Australian, and Canadian time zones which are off by half-hours, for instance, the watch can account for that. Additionally, the Equation of Time display at 12 o’clock decides the difference between each display, in addition to whether it’s day or night in the second time zone. The A&S1309 defeats at 21,600bph and comes with a 40-hour power reserve.
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