Late last week, we caught wind that a “new old” brand was starting up. Angelus is a company that likely not many of us have heard of, but it is a brand that has a history, one that includes some rather interesting innovations. Of course, we have seen nameplates resurrected before, and the history may not indicate a quality future. I cannot know that for sure at this point, but I do know that the Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière wins the award for one of the most stunning debut watch that I have seen.
The Angelus brand dates back about 125 years, hailing from Le Locle, where it was founded in 1891 by the Stolz brothers. The produced many award-winning watches, with the more recent ones of interest being their Chronodate in 1942 (a chronograph with calendar complications) and the Tinkler (yup, that’s the name they went with) in 1948, which was the first ever automatic repeater wristwatch that also happened to be waterproof.
Those (and other) innovations could not keep the brand from being hit by the quartz crisis of the 1970s, and production was halted. The latest chapter of the brand started in 2011, when it was revived by Manufacture La Joux-Perret SA CEO Frédéric Wenger and Head of Innovation Dr Sébastien Chaulmontet. The last four years have seen them working on building up to the watch we are showing you here today.
As I said at the outset, this is quite a stunning first outing for the restarted brand. As you can tell by the name of the watch (Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière), the tourbillon is a central feature for the watch. Rather than letting it live on the dial in the usual position (generally at 6 o’clock), the watch instead features a rectangular, compartmentalized case (more on that in a bit) with the right half dedicated to housing the tourbillon.
This alone would guarantee top billing for the complication. The 52 mm x 30 mm case (a stunning 7.5mm thick) manages to have sapphire windows on five sides of the tourbillon, which is where the Lumière portion of the name comes from – it allows all manner of light to be caught and reflected by the 1-minute whirlwind, which I am guessing is a pure treat to see in action.
By comparison, the main dial with it’s dead-beat seconds hand seems almost pedestrian in nature. That would be doing a disservice to the dial, as it actually is made of a tinted sapphire, which should allow the indices (including lume at the compass points) to appear to float a bit. The handset is also treated with a black SuperLuminova, so readability should be maintained in the dark.
You will also, should you want to, be able to check the power reserve in the dark. If you angle the watch, you will see the linear power reserve indicator showing just under the main dial, on the side of the case closest to your inside wrist. This is a clever use of an admittedly thin case, and allows the main time keeping portion to remain uncluttered. It also manages to make the watch an homage to the earlier Angelus catalog, when they created four-position table clocks that had an 8-day power reserve, automatic calendar, thermometer, and barometer.
Which, for as visually arresting as the case and tourbillon is, I appreciate that the Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière allows those flashier bits to simply fade into the background if you want to snag a quick glance at your wrist to check the time. Then again, if you ended up with one of these limited-edition beauties on your wrist (only 25 will be made), I am fairly certain that you will be checking it out a bit more intently. Pricing is yet to be announced, but I imagine it will be firmly in the realm of a luxury timepiece.
I know that is not a category we give a lot of ink to here on WWR, but I thought the Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière was definitely worth throwing out there as one of those pie-in-the-sky sort of pieces that can keep us watch folks thinking and dreaming about what we might like to consider as a grail watch, as well as pushing the conventions of layout that we have almost come to expect. For one, I like what I am seeing here, and I hope it is much less than four years until we see the next model from the brand. As to the Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière, expect pricing and availability information to come out during Basel World later this month. angelus-watches.com
- Brand & Model: Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière
- Price: TBA at Basel World
- Who we think it might be for: You are a true watch afficianado who happens to have a healthy “rainy day” fund
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: If I could afford it? That would be seriously tempting, as this is so unlike anything I have seen with a tourbillon before
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Don’t wait four years to release the next watch
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: How the tourbillon was really given pride of place
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