Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton
While the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton ref. 1UTAR.S10A.C320A may look similar to its forebears, it is actually a completely new model, featuring a new movement, the A&S8220 calibre. This timepiece delivers a high degree of rigidity and has an abundance of aesthetic charm.
This detailed review of the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton ref. 1UTAR.S10A.C320A includes live images, specification details and pricing.
As summer ebbs away and inclement weather rears its ugly head, many cabriolet owners will shroud their prized vehicles with protective covers and put them to sleep for the winter season. The cabriolet is a vehicle which embodies the fun and optimism of summer. However, sometimes roof-less motoring is accompanied with compromise.
A coupé is designed from the outset to be a coupé. The structure is intended to handle incredible forces as the vehicle changes direction. When a coupé is transformed into a convertible, some of the stiffness of the body is lost. Often motoring journalists employ the term, ‘scuttle shake’, to describe how the body of a vehicle flexes owing to the absence of a rigid roof. Scuttle shake leads to an impaired driving experience.
Some convertibles are designed to be convertibles from the beginning. An esteemed ‘roadster’ is the Porsche Boxster, a sports car which was always intended to be a roof-less vehicle. Ingenious design ensures that the body is rigid, free of flex and delivers a matchless driving experience.
A thorough understanding of all the forces at play
My reason for mentioning this is that the same principles apply to open-worked watches. A conventional watch can be open-worked, but requires much expertise to prevent the torsional rigidity being compromised.
I always remember a friend of mine telling me about his time at the prestigious WOSTEP in Neuchâtel. He was a student at the school and painstakingly filed an existing movement, introducing elaborate details to its form. After expending many hours finessing the aesthetic appearance of the movement, he was justly proud of his efforts. His instructor, apparently a strict teacher, commented that the movement was ‘very pretty but very weak’ before bending it and rendering hours of work to the waste bin. To skeletonise a conventional movement is not a task for the inexperienced and necessitates a thorough understanding of all the forces at play.
The existing UTTE collection
The Arnold & Son UTTE (Ultra Thin Tourbillon Escapement) has been produced in a variety of forms over the years and continues to be a popular model within the brand’s collection. It features a one-minute flying tourbillon and evinces an exquisite lightness to its design. Despite the complexity of the hand-wound movement, the case measures only 8.34mm in thickness, according an unobtrusive and very agreeable union with the wrist.
The hour and minutes display occupy the upper region of the dial while opposite, an aperture of similar size reveals the one-minute flying tourbillon. The tourbillon includes a seconds indication and a spherical tourbillon cage. The symmetry is sublime.
Over the years, the UTTE has been offered with various dial options, including some which have embraced artisanal crafts such as guilloché and miniature painting. The Calibre A&S8200, despite its lack of depth, is delivered with the same high level of finissage found on bulkier examples of haute horlogerie. Indeed, regardless of the challenges presented when working with ultra-thin movements, Arnold & Son has never eschewed high-end finishing.
A new model
The Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton may share more than a passing resemblance to other UTTE models, but it is in effect a wholly new watch. This timepiece was always intended to be an open-worked watch from the outset, making it the horological equivalent of the aforementioned Porsche Boxster.
While Arnold & Son has produced a variety of UTTE (Ultra Thin Tourbillon Escapement) models, however, this is the first ‘Skeleton’ version of the timepiece. Its movement, the A&S8220 is a new design, intended for use within an open-worked timepiece. The tourbillon cage has been reimagined, allowing sight of the rubies on the pallet lever busily engaging with the escape wheel. The tourbillon bridge has been changed from a horizontal orientation to a vertical alignment. The barrels are sans cover, allowing the fortunate wearer to see the mainsprings in various states of tension. Even small details, such as the click spring, have been changed to optimise the view presented.
Attention to detail
Where Arnold & Son has distinguished itself is with the fastidious attention to the detail. The prevailing time is presented in the northern hemisphere of the dial on a sapphire disc. This disc is marked with white Roman numerals for the hours which, in turn, are encircled with a minuterie. The golden, polished arrow-shaped hour and minute hands feature white lacquered tips, articulating time with notable grace.
The flying tourbillon features a laser engraved arrow which interfaces with a ‘satin-finished silvery white seconds rim’ framing the whirlwind complication at 6 o’clock. The small black dots adorning this seconds rim, together with the triangular shaped seconds tip, provide a superbly legible indication.
The open-worked mainplate is made of nickel silver with NAC grey coating which wonderfully contrasts with the 18-carat red gold case. Nestling in between both surfaces, a circlet of pale grey introduces a further smattering of colour to proceedings.
Discussions of the movement should not be at the expense of the case which includes a ‘double-step middle case’ and a gently arcing caseback. This style of case is far more labour intensive to produce than straight-sided varieties, but the sumptuous outcome justifies the protracted endeavours of Arnold & Son.
To make life easier, Arnold & Son could possibly have repackaged the existing Manufacture movement A&S8200, but that would not have delivered the result they clearly craved, a beautiful mechanical vista.
As a result, the clean-sheet design approach employed by Arnold & Son has delivered a timepiece with an innate torsional rigidity. Moreover, it is blessed with a spectacular open-worked appearance, indulging the whims of most horological voyeurs.
The A&S8220 is only slightly taller than its sibling, the A&S8200, with an increased thickness of 3.30mm compared with 2.97mm. However, once cased, the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton shares the same 8.34mm height as the other UTTE models. Despite its slender profile, this model is packed with the same high-end finishing found on other paragons of fine watchmaking, a fact which becomes evident with prolonged examination under a loupe.
This is a skeleton watch par excellence. It fuses charming style and watchmaking craftsmanship in one torsionally rigid package. Furthermore, unlike many convertibles, the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton can be enjoyed all year round, irrespective of the season.
- Model: Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton
- Reference: 1UTAR.S10A.C320A
- Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 42mm; height 8.34mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; tourbillon
- Movement: Calibre A&S8220, hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 29 jewels; power reserve 90 hours.
- Strap: Hand-stitched brown or black alligator strap with 18-carat red gold pin buckle
- Price: CHF 72,900 (RRP as at 21.3.2016)
- Limited Edition: 50 pieces