The Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon was unveiled at Baselworld 2018. Housed in a titanium case, this fascinating new watch fuses modernity with serious watchmaking know-how. Angus Davies looks closely at this uber-luxurious diver’s watch.
This detailed review of the Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon includes live images, specification details and price.
After several years of inactivity, Angelus was acquired by La Joux Perret in 2011. Four years later, the company unveiled the breathtaking U10 Tourbillon Lumière. It shared nothing in common with Angelus models of the past, representing a new chapter in the company’s history. The avant-garde model featured a rectangular-shaped case equipped with seven sapphire crystals.
The styling of the U10 Tourbillon Lumière provoked debate, owing to its bulky dimensions and unusual mien. Quite simply, you either loved or loathed this horological leviathan. Nevertheless, one thing was clear, modernity did not come at the expense of high-end finishing. The U10 Tourbillon Lumière combined haute horlogerie standards with a palpable dose of modernity.
In 2016, the brand accelerated its work rate, releasing the U20 Ultra Skeleton Tourbillon, the U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante and, lastly, the U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton. This triumvirate of exceptional watches proved less contentious than the U10 Tourbillon Lumière and wonderfully illustrated the creativity of Angelus.
At Baselworld 2018, the brand from La Chaux-de-Fonds, enlarged its collection of models with the release of the Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon. This fascinating timepiece combines the robustness of a diver’s watch with a tourbillon, arguably one of the most luxurious complications. Furthermore, the movement is skeletonised, revealing an array of components usually hidden from view. With a plethora of attributes, the watch justifies many column inches.
Beneath the highly domed sapphire crystal, the wearer is presented with a magnificent vista. The Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon eschews a conventional dial and instead reveals ‘beam-type plates and bridges’. This is a dialscape which celebrates the architecture of the movement. However, the mechanical backdrop does not impair readability.
The hour and minute hands are rhodium plated and lacquered blue. At the centre of each hand is a liberal application of superluminova, aiding readability in dim light. Rectangular indexes also feature superluminova.
A small seconds display resides at 9 o’clock. It consists of a yellow circlet marked with blue numerals and neat lines. A blue and white hand indicates the running seconds.
A rotating internal bezel provides a useful aide memoire when diving. It is operated with the crown positioned at 2 o’clock. The vivid yellow and blue colour scheme augments legibility and proffers much eye-appeal.
Despite the dial having a delicate appearance, courtesy of its skeletonised construction, the case evinces a resolutely tough appearance. Measuring 45mm in diameter, it is made of ultra-light grade 5 titanium. The aforementioned domed sapphire crystal accentuates the differing dial depths and, in so doing, heightens the appeal of the watch.
The bezel is polished and sandblasted, while the case-band is satin finished. This mix of different case treatments imbues the watch with a sumptuous feel.
Short lugs cause the strap to readily encircle the wrist. Each lug is facetted and hollowed out. Viewing the lugs from the side of the case, highlights the complexity of their form. Nothing has been created expediently.
In addition to the aforementioned crown at 2 o’clock, a further crown, positioned at 4 o’clock, winds the mainspring. Crown protectors reinforce the sense of toughness. On the left hand flank of the case is a helium valve, fanfaring that this is a genuine diver’s watch.
The Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon comes supplied with a black rubber strap paired with a titanium pin buckle.
The Manufacture movement A-300 first featured in the stunning U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton. By housing the calibre in the Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon, a watch with an alternative case and dial design, the A-300 movement looks very different.
Two plates and various bridges steadfastly hold the wheels and barrel in between, effectively like a sandwich. By taking this approach, the rigidity of the movement is optimised. It is the rigidity of a movement which ensures reliable and precise operation.
While some companies open-work existing calibres, Angelus always intended the A-300 movement to be used in skeletonised watches. The result of this clean-sheet approach is enhanced rigidity.
Black twin-arm beam-type plates and bridges, together with six-spoke wheels, confer a contemporary appearance to this watch. However, rest assured high-end movement finishing has not been sacrificed on the alter of style. The main plate is snailed and sandblasted, the pillars are mirror-polished, the barrel and wheels are satin-finished and the screws are bevelled with mirror-polished heads. The A-300 movement stands comparison with the best examples of traditional finishing.
At the heart of the movement is the one-minute flying tourbillon. The tourbillon cage is composed of 55 parts, including the escapement, yet weighs ‘mere fractions of a gram’. The cage rotates 360° every minute, negating the errors of rate caused by the influence of gravity on the escapement. Again, the finishing of the tourbillon is first-rate, with mirror-polishing and chamfering all performed by hand.
Angelus has expended much effort on each element of the A-300 movement. Many of the specification details improve functionality, while others enhance the appearance of the calibre. One illustration of the painstaking lengths the brand has gone to relates to the setting mechanism. Instead of positioning the setting mechanism on the dial-side of the movement, the norm in watchmaking, Angelus has located it on the back of the movement. By refining the design of the setting mechanism, it is more attractive and neater. Now, the setting mechanism is shown front of house for the delectation of the wearer.
In a comparatively short period of time, Angelus has achieved much. Its catalogue of models has grown and grown. However, it has clearly expended much effort with the design of each watch, carefully crafting each model and looking closely at every constituent part. The exacting standards of production and the high quotient of hand craftsmanship distinguish this company’s models as special.
When designing its watches, the brand has pushed boundaries and chosen to dare. Some models may well polarise opinion, however, many fans of horology, myself included, appreciate the bold styling and unabashed modernity.
While Angelus makes contemporary watches, it has repeatedly shown a respect for traditional hand-finishing. Mirror-polishing, sometimes called ‘black polishing’, demands much skill on the part of the watchmaker and necessitates much time to execute. For generations it has featured on exquisite examples of haute horlogerie. By employing mirror-polishing, Angelus has respected watchmaking’s heritage.
However, the brand has also embraced innovative ideas. The beam-type plates and bridges look different from anything else on the market. They were inspired by the high-performance structures used in the aerospace sector. As a result, the neoteric structures which constitute the main-plate and bridges, mitigate mass and confer incredible rigidity, two traits highly desirable in a watch.
The Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon is an interesting ownership proposition. It combines a skeleton movement, a tourbillon and a case intended for sub-aquatic use. Like most divers’ watches it delivers a highly legible dial and a robust case capable of shrugging-off minor impacts. But let’s be honest, would you really dive in a beautifully crafted watch such as this handsome Angelus? I’m not sure I would. Quite simply, it is too good for use underwater. Nevertheless, its array of qualities are very relevant for life on terra firma. Its readability, robustness, attractive skeleton movement and exacting standards of finish are equally valid for daily life on dry land.
Lastly, the price of the Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon is a remarkable CHF 29,700 (VAT excluded 11.4.2018). While this is a substantial sum of money, it represents incredible value and provides a further illustration why Angelus is an interesting watch brand.
- Model: Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon
- Case: Grade 5 titanium; diameter 45mm; height 12.47mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back; water resistant to 30 atm (300 metres)
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; one-minute flying tourbillon
- Movement: A-300 caliber; Hand-wound movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 23 jewels; power reserve around 55 hours
- Strap: Black rubber strap in blue-black with titanium pin buckle.
- Price: CHF 29,700 (VAT excluded 11.4.2018)