Pre-Baselworld 2016 – Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante, an impressive skeleton flyback split-seconds chronograph with tourbillon
If there’s something that we now have to consider when talking about Angelus watches, it’s the fact that they won’t be vintage-inspired pieces. So no Chronodato, period! However, this isn’t a sufficient reason not look at these watches, cause with their innovative designs and highly complicated movements; it certainly is the type of watches that we love here, at Monochrome-Watches. And even before we had time to recover after the launch of the U20 Ultra Skeleton Tourbillon, with its properly floating movement, Angelus brings another truly impressive watch, no less than a skeleton flyback split-seconds chronograph with tourbillon… Here is the Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante.
Debate: we can’t stop hearing here and there people complaining about the conduct line chosen by Sebastien Chaulmontet when he re-introduced the famous brand Angelus, last year at Baselworld. Some collectors look at the U10 and the recent U20 as watches not in line with what they think the brand should be or were way back when. They think the brand should do chronographs and sort of vintage watches, inspired by the iconic Chronodato. But, consider this: what if the brand didn’t stop manufacturing watches? Would they still make Chronodatos? Couldn’t it be possible that the brand chose a completely different path, with watches made to actual standards, rather than doing watches looking at the past? If you want us to be direct, we let them talk. There are way too many brands playing on the “way-too-much-used-and-abused” concept of vintage-inspired watches. In some ways, it simply demonstrates a lack of inspiration. For once, a brand is re-launched with something new, something fresh. And that’s fine to us. Angelus does bold and modern tourbillon watches and if they sell, we’re more than happy for the brand. Debate closed.
Maybe, this new watch will calm these people down – a bit. Indeed, for their third watch, Angelus decided to go for what the brand was most famous for: a chronograph. But guess what? It is not a vintage-reissue. Instead, the Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante is a bold, technical, modern and impressive skeleton chronograph. This watch is built like a supercar, but with 3 traditional watchmaking features: a one-minute tourbillon, a flyback column wheel chronograph and a rattrapante (split-seconds) function.
The Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante features a 47mm x 15mm grade 5 titanium case with black coating on the case band. Thus, we’re in front of a quite masculine watch – to say the least. The shape of the case, even with a perfectly round central part, is also quite audacious, with its sculptural lugs, its large square pushers and the combination of satined and polished surfaces. But if the case and the strap are nicely designed, this is not where the Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante impresses. The show is in the movement.
As you can see, there’s no dial on the Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante but simply hands running over tracks – one around the dial, a 60-second scale printed on the inner flange and one for the 30-minute counter, placed at 3. All the rest is gears, wheels, levers and bridges. The movement is entirely skeletonized and arranged in an architectural and modern way. Finishing, even if perfectly executed, is not in the vein of Swiss tradition. The main plate is sand-blasted and grey NAC-treated, the bridges are coated in black DLC, opening are geometrical, wheels show the signature 6-spoke shape and even the screws are modern (and unusual in their shape). Design wise, its 21st century watchmaking at its best.
The movement of the Angelus U30 is the result of five years of intensive research and development, secured by several patents. This Calibre A-150 has quite a story to tell: it features a one-minute tourbillon, a fly-back double column wheel chronograph, a split-seconds (rattrapante), a self-winding mechanism and a power reserve indicator. This movement is exclusive to Angelus, it is developed and assembled by the manufacture and it shows a true integrated architecture, meaning that all the complications are implemented into the movement rather that using modular adds-on. That’s already a very good point, as it means a more compact construction and possibly a better interaction between the different complications – and considering the amount of features and the automatic winding rotor, these two points shouldn’t be underestimated.
The one-minute tourbillon occupies a quarter of the dial space and can be seen at 10 o’clock. The tourbillon is high-beat with 4 Hz / 28,800vph. The cage is entirely made of non-magnetic material and reduced to the maximum to further minimize mass and optimize performance. The balance wheel is black gold-treated to match with the rest of the movement. The power reserve indicator, with visible gears and wheels, is positioned at 8 o’clock and directly integrated onto the skeletonized bridge. A green sector indicates ideal torque while red highlights that it’s time to wind the watch. The Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante will boasts approximately 45 hours of power reserve.
In additionn to these features, there’s the chronograph, which in our case here has quite a pedigree. Of course, it is actuated by a column wheel. And there’s a second column wheel, unusually positioned on the dial side, activating the split-seconds function.
The split seconds function explained
The rattrapante (or split-seconds) function allows the timing of different events that begin but do not end together, for example the times of two runners. Two separate chronograph second hands are set one over the other; the one underneath is the split-seconds hand. When the chronograph is started, both hands start moving in lockstep together, until a press of the pusher in the crown “splits” them, with the top hand continuing and the bottom split-seconds hand stopping to allow an intermediate time to be noted. By again pressing the pusher, the split-seconds hand will instantly catch up to the main chronograph hand, ready again to record a new intermediate time.
Finally, whereas the majority of chronographs operate in the sequence push-to-start, push-to-stop, and push-to-reset, the Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante is a flyback chronograph, which means that the timing operation can be directly reset and restart without having to be stopped first. Something rather unusual for a split-seconds chronograph, as not one, but two, central chronograph hands have to be reseted and restarted. In addition, the forces generated on the split- seconds mechanism during the instantaneous reset and restart are significant.
To say that the Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante, following the U10 and the U20, is an impressive piece of modern watchmaking is quite an understatement. Combining such functions in a single watch isn’t an easy task (especially when combining a split-seconds with a tourbillon, as the energy consumption of a rattrapante mechanism is very high). The overall execution is bold, modern and technical and whatever collectors of vintage Angelus watches will say, what a piece of engineering! The Angelus U30 will be a limited edition of 25 pieces. Price to be confirmed during Baselworld 2016. More details on Angelus Watches website.