Hands-on – The Arnold and Son UTTE – Ultra Thin Tourbillon Escapement, with hand guilloche dial (live pics & price)
When you think Arnold and Son, the first word you might have in mind is: complicated. We, watch-collectors, are certainly the only kind of people to like when things are complicated. And at Arnold and Son, people like it when it’s very complicated – think here dead-beat second, mixed with a chronograph, constant-force devices, skeletonized movements, tourbillon chronograph and, of course, all kind of tourbillons. In terms of tourbillons, there are quite a few watches possible (like this with a dead-beat second or this, not with one but with two of them). There’s another one that plays on the understated side, and besides its apparent simplicity, the Arnold and Son UTTE (Ultra Thin Tourbillon Escapement) isn’t that simple. Overview of a complicated simple watch.
What is the Arnold and Son UTTE? It is a great demonstration of elegance and restrained haute horlogerie, mixing a complicated movement in a thin case and a superb hand-guilloche dial (for this edition, as the Arnold and Son UTTE also exists in variations with plain dials or Geneva stripes dials). It’s clearly an evocation of haute horlogerie with no ostentation feels, no artifices, no smoke and mirrors. It’s typically the kind of watch that requires a bit more maturity from collectors. When you’re young into collecting and that you buy your first high-end watch, you’ll probably go for something that sparkles a bit. However, once you’re more mature into watches, you’ll certainly choose the understated beauty. Just like an apparently simple watch from Patek or Ferrier, that below their plain dials can hide super high-end movements. Same goes for this Arnold and Son UTTE. Ok, it shows its tourbillon but the other complicated parts are hidden or made with superb refinement.
Visually, the Arnold and Son UTTE is plain, simple and discreet. It has nothing showy or demonstrative. Even the tourbillon remains quite sober. The UTTE is slim, round, not overly decorated however not boring. It’s full of small details that talk to mature watch-lovers (that most of you certainly are now, after reading Monochrome-Watches). The case is made, in this edition, in 18k red gold, simply polished. The shape remains voluntarily discreet, with a plain bezel and thin lugs. It has a classical 42mm diameter. However, the profile is slim at 8.34mm – which means that it will first look even more understated but that it makes life a bit more complicated for the watchmakers. This movement, without being THE slimmest tourbillon ever (this goes to Bulgari, with its Octo Finissimo Tourbillon – only 5.00mm in total height and an impressive 1.95mm for the movement alone), remains one of the slimmest tourbillon available on the market.
The movement, made in-house and only for the Arnold and Son UTTE, is, as said, slim. You have to understand that it’s not so simple to make a slim tourbillon, as this type of regulator requires lots of parts (more than 100) and a specific construction: a bridge on the top, a cage that encircles the balance wheel and the escapement and that rotates on a pivot, inserted on another bridge (on the movement side). This sandwich is thicker than a normal regulator. Thus, to have a slim tourbillon, you have to be clever. Here, Arnold and Son find the solution in a tourbillon that raised from the dial instead of being placed at the same level. Thus, the extra-thickness induced by the regulator is in fact absorbed by the bombé shape of the sapphire crystal on the top. Thus, the case profile itself is slim and this thinness is emphasized by the shape of the case, with flanks that tapered to the caseback and that are pointy to the edges.
Then, the movement itself is far from only being a tourbillon added to a classical movement. One of the main issues with slim watches is usually the lack of power reserve. Considering that watchmakers don’t have much space to include parts, they usually equipped slim watches with a single, small barrel. However, here the movement might only be 2.97mm in height, it also measures 32mm in diameter, meaning that the watchmakers at Arnold and Son have space, that they utilize to include not one but two barrels, meaning 90 hours of power reserve (close to 4 days). It’s even more impressive knowing that the tourbillon’s cage alone is huge, with a 14mm diameter – roughly half of the movement. The movement is very well finished, with polished, chamfered bridges, rayonnantes Geneva stripes, blued screws and circular graining on the main-plate. Also note the hand engraving on the tourbillon bridge. The tourbillon bridge on the dial side is satin-finish with chamfered and polished edges.
The dial is also very retrained in its decoration and layout, however, easily recognizable as a watch from Arnold & Son: an off-centrered dial to display the time (something that also participates to the thinness of the watch, as hands don’t overlap the tourbillon case), blued hands with hollowed arrow tips and Roman numerals. Overall, the dial is balanced (the time sub-dial gives perfect echo to the tourbillon) and extremely elegant, with not an once of ostentation. This edition of the Arnold and Son UTTE comes with a specific dial, hand-guilloche on a solid gold plate. Then again, the pattern chosen is delicate and discreet – and very well executed.
The Arnold and Son UTTE with this guilloche dial is a limited edition to 28 pieces, priced around 68,000 Euros. More details on www.arnoldandson.com.
There is only one thing which detracts from the perfection of this piece. “Hand Guilloche” on the dial. Really no need. I wonder if they’d make one without it.