Angelus U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton: High-Performance Perfection
by Martin Green
In a relatively short period of time Angelus has put out a range of very impressive watches.
This started with the brand’s “re-birth,” which is technically not really a re-birth, but more of a continuation, as Ian explains in Photo Essay: The Angelus U10 Tourbillon Lumière.
Tourbillons have become a hallmark of Angelus, and the U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton doesn’t disappoint. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best Angelus yet!
Yes, it is all about the price!
Of course, when you look at the Angelus collection there is some steep competition within it to be “the best watch.” Of all of the brand’s tourbillons, the U40 is probably the most straightforward, which says a lot because we are still talking about a skeletonized movement with a flying tourbillon.
Normally I find the price of a watch not that important. I consider nearly all watches that we discuss here at Quill & Pad a form of art, and prices of art are often arbitrary. However, in this case, I think that the price makes a profound difference in the perception of the watch.
In fact, although I was already aware of the price I still had to confirm with Angelus that I had it right because I suspected a mistake: at $28,750 this is one of the least expensive in-house Swiss tourbillons your money can buy.
There are several reasons why this matters: first and foremost, Angelus is a very small manufacture even though it is housed within the larger La Joux-Perret structure. Most of its watches are issued in limited editions, and while the U40 is the first Angelus that does not belong to a limited edition, its yearly production is most likely only in the double digits (at best).
That makes the U40 a rare watch. This is a curse and a blessing at the same time, but it will without a doubt please the people who can get their hands on one. It also means that you get quite an exclusive watch for a relatively modest amount of money (modest for a Swiss manufacture tourbillon).
I am not a one-watch kind of guy . . . am I?
Another reason why the price of this Angelus matters is because of what you get for your money.
While the U40 is the most affordable tourbillon in the Angelus collection, it is about as entry-level in the Angelus collection as the new Portofino in Ferrari’s lineup.
The U40 has the word “Racing” in its name as a reference to high-performance cars, but fortunately Angelus doesn’t take this theme too far. The focus when designing the movement was to create maximum rigidity with a minimum of weight, much like a racecar, and Angelus succeeded to such an extent that you can take this watch through the paces of everyday life with full peace of mind.
In fact, unlike the supercars the name of the U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton pays tribute to, it is a very easy and comfortable watch to wear every day. I never considered myself a one-watch kind of guy, but this Angelus makes me doubt if I can still make that statement with such conviction.
With a diameter of 42 mm the size is perfect, especially since Angelus combines this with a height of only 10 mm. At least a millimeter of that is dedicated to a beautiful box sapphire crystal, and the anti-reflective coating on it allows you to easily see the hands at nearly every angle.
The case is made of titanium. Gone are the times when this meant that the watch had a matted, dark grey look, as became the signature of watches like the Breitling Aerospace and the various IWC Porsche Design models. Angelus alternates between beautiful, lightly brushed surfaces and those with a superb polish.
Combine this with a rubber strap and a simple buckle, and you have a watch that sits perfectly on the wrist and has significant presence, but is at the same time so light that you often forget that you are even wearing a watch.
Futuristic old-school details
What is perhaps most captivating about the U40 is the incredible amount of detail, which often combines an old-school approach with a modern finish. The bridges of the skeletonized movement feature chamfered edges, but they are covered with black ADLC (Amorphous Diamond-Like Coating). Because of this, the gear train is highlighted and, of course, so is the one-minute tourbillon, which features a stunning mirror polish.
You can also find exceptional finish on the screws that secure the lugs to the case. The best part about these is that one can always be seen when you glance at your watch, even when it is mostly hidden by your cuff.
That is one of those details that make day-to-day life with the U40 a true pleasure.
The hands also play a large role in this. Angelus offers them with white or red inserts. The hands are bent at such perfect angles that they always seem to reflect the light. Even in low-light conditions it is fairly easy to read the exact time, and that is something that cannot be said about every watch.
The power reserve of the U40 is a generous 60 hours, but the watch lacks a power reserve indicator. Actually, to put it more precisely, it has a very old-school power reserve indicator because the spring barrel is also skeletonized: you can see the mainspring and how much it is wound.
Although not an extremely precise method, with some experience you can make a pretty accurate assumption about how long your watch will still run without you winding it again.
A beautiful bargain
While it is perhaps a bit much to call a watch that costs $28,750 a bargain, the U40 does offer incredible bang for the buck. But far more importantly, despite being exotic and complicated it can actually be a perfect everyday watch.
That is a quality not every tourbillon possesses, and it is one that makes the Angelus U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton a truly rare breed!
For more information, please visit www.angelus-watches.com/media/angelus-u40-racing-tourbillon-skeleton and/or www.angelus-watches.com/en-us/manufacture.
Quick Facts Angelus U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton
Case: 42 x 10 mm, ADLC-coated titanium
Movement: manually wound skeletonized Caliber A-300 with one-minute flying tourbillon; 60-hour power reserve; 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Also published on Medium.