The Arnold & Son UTTE a.k.a the Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement – Asprey Special Edition

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Frank Geelen | ic_query_builder_black_24px 3 minute read |
Arnold & Son UTTE for Asprey

Earlier this year Arnold & Son introduced the UTTE, which stands for Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement. The UTTE has a movement that is just 2.97 mm thick and a case thickness of only 8.34 mm, making the UTTE one of the thinnest tourbillion watches on the market. Now they come with a Limited Edition of 8 pieces for Asprey in London.

If you were wondering if Piaget didn’t serve something thinner, than I must disappoint you. Their Gouverneur Tourbillon (click here) used to be the world’s thinnest shaped tourbillon, however in all fairness, it also incorporates a moon phase indication as well. That’s quite an accomplishment for Arnold & Son and the UTTE is a rather interesting offering. It was already available in a similar classic shaped red gold or palladium case, measuring 42 mm in diameter. The special hand guilloche dial on this Asprey Special Edition of just 8 pieces adds that “something extra”.

Arnold & Son UTTE for Asprey

The hand guilloche dial is however more expensive and would set you back € 63.000 Euro (including taxes), while the normal palladium model costs € 54.500 Euro. That means € 8.500 extra for the hand guilloche dial and engravings in the case back, and of course the knowledge that it is one of just eight pieces!

The manually wound movement, which features a one-minute flying tourbillon, is crafted in nickel-silverthat is NAC grey treated. It features manually chamfered bridges with polished edges, fine circular graining and Côtes de Genève, screws with bevelled and mirror-polished heads. In short, all Haute Horlogerie finishing that we expect in this price range. The tourbillon cage is satin-finish with chamfered and polished edges.

Arnold & Son UTTE for Asprey

The movement’s diameter is rather large, measuring 32 mm, but also allows enough place for the large tourbillon cage that measures a massive 14 mm in diameter and thus occupies almost half of the movement space. The flying tourbillon cage is not inset into the caliber, but instead rises out of the movement, through the dial, to the same height as the hour and minute hands. All visible screws of the spherical tourbillon cage have been removed to get beautifully balanced looks. The only visible screws are on the regulator.

The large diameter of the movement also makes it possible to find enough space for two main spring barrels, which deliver a power reserve of at least 90 hours.

Whether the UTTE is the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch we don’t know for sure, but it sure looks like it, now it pushed the Piaget Gouverneur Tourbillon from it’s leading position.

Historical Context

Breguet and Arnold tourbillon
John Arnold and A.-L. Breguet, silver cased chronometer with tourbillon and spring-detent escapement – London, England, 1774 and Paris, France, 1808
© The Trustees of the British Museum

The tourbillon escapement has always been attributed to Abraham-Louis Breguet, however the English watchmaker John Arnold had a role in this as well! The exceptional watchmaker John Arnold was an active participant in one of the most extraordinary partnerships in the creation of the tourbillon. Both he and Abraham-Louis Breguet worked closely together, sharing both their knowledge and passion. Evidence of their partnership is A.-L. Breguet’s first-ever tourbillon escapement mounted in John Arnold’s No.11 movement – a watch that can be found today in London’s British Museum.

Arnold & Son UTTE A&S8200

Main Technical Characteristics:

  • Calibre A&S8200 – Exclusive Arnold & Son ultra-thin mechanical movement, one-minute flying tourbillon, hand-wound, 29 jewels, diameter 32 mm, thickness 2.97 mm, tourbillon cage diameter 14mm, power reserve over 90 hours, 21’600 vibrations/h
  • Functions: hours, minutes, tourbillon
  • Movement decoration: nickel-silver movement, NAC grey treated with Haute Horlogerie finishing: manually chamfered bridges with polished edges, fine circular graining and Côtes de Genève, screws with bevelled and mirror-polished heads. Tourbillon cage: satin-finish with chamfered and polished edges.
  • Dial: silvery-white and silvery opaline hand guilloché
  • Case: palladium, diameter 42 mm, cambered sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides, case back see-through sapphire, water-resistant to 30 m
  • Strap: hand-stitched black alligator leather
  • Limited edition: 8 timepieces

Retail prices (VAT incl.) for both the UTTE in red gold and the UTTE Asprey Special Edition Limited Edition of 8 pieces, is € 63.000 Euro. The normal palladium version comes at a retail price of € 54.500 Euro. More information can be found on the Arnold & Son website.

8 responses

  1. Frank,

    I’m so very confused by brands such as Arnold & Son. On one hand, I assume they are fueld by a parent company’s fat wallet; they take on a name of a watch maker to whom they have zero relevance; they attemt to lure in douchebags by making connections to historical dates, events, places and people – who they also have nothing to do with; what’s more, to my understanding they use very pedestrian movements in their lower end watches.

    On the other hand, they go and release something as wonderful as this. Now eve though I don’t personally like the watch and still dislike the company, one simply must respect a timepiece such as this.

    In my confusion, when I day dream, I wish I headed one of these watch companies in a perfect world, where I could trim all the fat, cut all the b/s, and just make great watches!

    p.s. I just wish I had more information – is this an in-house movement, or is it also made by a third party movement maker?

    Nik

  2. Dear Nik

    Please allow me to jump into the discussion and thank you for the interest in our brand. My name is Sébastien Chaulmontet and I am head of movement development at Arnold & Son.

    To answer some of your questions: All our movements are developed, produced and assembled in-house/in our own manufacture. Our manufacture is located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland (you are welcome to visit us anytime), the best place to produce haute horlogerie watches today. We have 9 different manufacture movements for the time being. We do therefore not use any “pedestrian” movement as you call them. Our base model for instance, the HMS1, boasts a 2.7 mm ultra-thin double barrel manufacture movement with 90 hours power reserve. If you have a closer look at our watches, you will notice that each single watch has its own specific movement. We never use the same movement in a different model. The reason is that the calibre is always designed with a specific watch case design (proportions) in mind. Please visit our website (arnoldandson.com) to see all our calibres and watches and our Instagram account (arnoldandson) for more pictures of the production process, assembling, etc.

    Regarding the origins of our brand: Most, if not all, historical brands have been bought/sold several times since they foundation. Therefore most of them are not anymore in the hands of the family which founded them initially. The brand “Arnold & Son” was first continued by Dent and later purchased by Frodsham, etc. I think what is really important when judging about historical brands is if the new / actual products are true to the spirit of the founder or not. If you look at our products of today, they do have very strong links to the roots of the brand, both aesthetically and technically. We do have two different collections, a Royal Collection and an Instrument Collection. Each is strongly connected to a different period of John Arnold’s life and the different kind of watches he and his son did. When we develop a new movement / watch we are always inspired by historical pieces, but without ever just copying them. For instance our DBS model (sidereal time) was inspired by one of the first sidereal time watches ever, made by John Roger Arnold. We took over key design and technical features and made a modern watch out of them. We did the same for our Time Pyramid watch, which is based on old British skeleton clocks and regulators done by John Arnold. Etc.

    I hope that these few answers have helped you to better understand and appreciate our work and the philosophy behind it.

    Best regards,

    Sébastien Chaulmontet

    Head of movement development, Arnold & Son

  3. Nik, sounds like you’re very cynical. Please allow me to make that even worse…

    Who do you think financed Panerai in the beginning? How do you think Richard Mille or URWERK were able to start their business? Why do you think the revival of Breguet was possible, after decades of doing almost nothing? Watch companies need funds. So yes, there will be a company with a BIG FAT WALLET.

    And there aren’t many old watch companies who are still in the original family’s hands. Patek comes close, but honestly, the company was bought in 1932 from the Patek and/or Philippe family. The buyers, two brothers Stern, have been running the show ever since. That means less than 100 years in one family, however they ARE still family owned.

    In this perspective A&S is not very different from most other watch brands. Some are here for a longer time, some have just started. In other perspectives A&S is MUCH different from other brands. Important is that A&S develop, produce, finish and assemble all their movements in-house. And as far as I am concerned, it’s OK for them to use the heritage connected to the brand’s name. And they do a rather impressive job at it.

    I hope this helps to form a more complete image of the watch industry as a whole and A&S in particular.

    PS. Thanks for your comprehensive answer, Sébastien!

  4. Hi everyone,

    I think Frank is right to point out that it’s an almost inescapable economical truth that most watch companies will be backed up by others with big wallets, especially when they are relatively new/revived. (As far as i’m aware, Arnold & Son is indeed one of those brands that were revived due to the heritage connected with the name, but I’m not sure when this happened. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

    From what I gather from some browsing, there was indeed a time when A&S used ETA movements, albeit regulated to COSC or even ETA-based calibers exclusively built for them, but judging by their current website, and as Mr. Chaulmontet has stated, they’re now producing and using their own calibers, even in their ‘base model’.

    Personally, I must admit I generally quite like A&S watches, both the dials (though I do prefer the ones that don’t have paintings of boats etc. on them), and the movements, which I find to be beautifully finished.

    As a question to Mr. Chaulmontet, and having never visited a manufacture yet: when one would like to visit A&S, do you have to make an appointment or can you just show up? Presumably you only really get to see the showroom, I imagine?

    As stated, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong or to add things that I may have omitted. I’m not all-knowing, especially when it comes down to watches, but am eager to learn.

    Alexander

  5. Sebastien,

    Thank you very much for taking your time to address my statements and questions. I do find it very reassuring and interesting that somebody as enlightened and important as your self goes in to so much detail.

    I do also hope that you take no offense in me being cynical, as Frank pointed out, as I hardly find another way to approach today’s world of horology, which seems to be covered in a thick fog of marketing, and worse.

    I will certainly give Arnold & Son a much better look and formulate my opinion more carefully. It certainly is a joyous feeling, knowing that there is a whole new true manufacture to explore.

    Nik

  6. Frank,

    Yes, I am very, very cynical. And I think of it as no less than an asset when approaching today’s industry of horology, which on a whole has inflated prices tenfold (factoring in inflation) in the last number of decades. An inflation of prices which is largely composed of a bloated perception of “luxury” and other hardly relevant intrinsic values.

    I am very cynical when approaching a new company, asking for a lot of money for a product, whose value I cannot neceaseraly perceive.

    Nik

  7. Dear Alexander,

    To visit our manufacture is easy. Just write us an Email at info@arnoldandson.com for an appointment. You will see it all (design & developement, prodcution and decoration of the components, assembling, etc.), not only a showroom. We always enjoy showing our Manufacture as we are very much a “product-based brand” rather than a “marketing one”.

    Best regards,

    Sébastien Chaulomtet

    Head of movement development, Arnold & Son

  8. Dear Sébastien,

    Thanks for your reply. I’ll be near La-Chaux-de-Fonds later this month, so I’ll send an e-mail in the hope of being able to make a visit to your manufacture then.

    Kind regards,

    Alexander

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