Angelus U50 Diver Flying Tourbillon: A Logical Mashup
Crossovers, juxtaposed realities, and bleed-through lead to the birth of new genres: disparate concepts mingling with tenuous (at best) relationships create unexpected combinations which often result in new ideas. This can be seen in music, food, the visual arts, consumer products . . . really anything that utilizes any amount of creativity is fair game.
Flying cars, rather mainstream like the spork, are literally a combination of sedan and light aircraft. The oddest ones are varied (and may tend to come from Japan – I’m looking at you, toilet paper hat), seeming to only make sense in one very specific case, like the lamp that doubles as a shower (see Oki Sato’s LampShower).
The latest trend on the internet is the meme, which usually is some form of pop culture mix and sees random connections made by anyone with photo editing software.
But the “mashup” – the “crossover” – serves a purpose and a very important purpose at that. It allows endless combinations to be tested and, if successful, to become new categories in their own right.
A good example: in the 1930s the clock radio was invented and went on to become a household staple.
But if you had asked someone in 1910 whether combining a clock and the newly invented radio would be a good idea, that person may have said you would have a better chance of combining a telephone with a camera. Come to think of it, that’s actually a pretty good idea . . .
But for every great idea that sticks, hundreds – if not thousands – become relics of history and failed experiments of creativity. Most we will never know about, but some are remembered thanks to internet lists. Like Cheetos lip balm (shudder).
New combinations occur in the watch industry as well, with new inventions and combinations becoming long-lasting icons or fading into the footnotes of horological textbooks. Every year new ideas come forth, and watch aficionados determine their future in the industry.
One of those ideas is the Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon, a quasi-designed-from-the-ground-up skeleton tourbillon watch designed to also be a highly legible diver’s watch with bold styling. Of course, any sports watch that features decorative or delicate elements is often derided as being nonsensical. Yet there are those that buck trends, like Richard Mille, and do the thing that many say is pointless.
The story of the Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon is still being written, but I think it may be one that holds on with watch lovers if it is given a chance.
Angelus is a perfect incubator
Since the relaunch of Angelus with the U10 Tourbillon Lumière in 2015, the brand has shown that it isn’t the same Angelus that closed its doors in the 1970s. And you shouldn’t expect it to be. Right from the get-go, Angelus ruffled feathers as vintage lovers balked at the rebirth since it wasn’t just an updated copy of what the brand made 50 years ago, instead being something that parlayed the nostalgia and respect of Angelus into something modern watchmakers could have fun with.
The excitement was not that a beloved brand from the past once again produced watches, but that a new marque used some historical inspiration to drive modern development of new designs. The eight watches released since the rebirth show that a solid technical direction is the basis for development, and hints of yesterday are included to invoke just a touch of warm fuzzies.
This is why the release of the U50 Diver Tourbillon isn’t out of character or even that surprising. Given what has already come from the new Angelus, it seems like a rather logical step to create a new diving watch since the main historical ties to diving were from the movements supplied to Panerai back in the day.
The new Angelus is still looking to the past for some inspiration, but it definitely isn’t going about it in a lazy way by just copying old designs with some new twists. No, the new Angelus is taking the cue from tidbits and reinventing the way it connects with those tidbits.
The U10 Tourbillon Lumière was a wild watch, but it was also inspired in shape by old Angelus travel clocks, a very roundabout way of connecting with the past. The U50 Diver Tourbillon is no different as diving is a part of the brand’s history, just not as an Angelus-branded sports watch.
New details make better sense today: Caliber A-300
If the new Angelus had stuck with creating what the Angelus of the past had made, we would no doubt have some lovely and technically awesome timepieces. But these might not look much different from every other vintage-inspired timepiece out there, and industry noise probably would have drowned out the newcomer.
The minds behind the new Angelus didn’t want another dodo bird, a relic of the past, they wanted a launching point for creativity. And that’s what the new Angelus is, the U50 Diver Tourbillon following from that.
The watch was designed with diving in mind, using the robust A-300 caliber developed for the U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton. Angelus wanted a movement built to withstand rigorous use, at the same time not impeding its own function.
Crazy movements are extremely interesting, but the added complication probably isn’t best for a capable sports watch.
Angelus understood this and so the development of the A-300 centered on an architecture designed specifically for a skeleton movement instead of skeletonizing a previous architecture. The development of the A-300 took more than four years and focused on simplicity (even though it is a tourbillon movement).
Taking notes from watchmaking history, the movement is technically similar to a three-quarter or full-plate movement with everything sandwiched between only two plates instead of using individual bridges. This makes precision much more critical for each plate, but the assembly is much more robust since there are many less joints or places for tolerances to be off.
The skeletonizing focused on creating strong bases for the gear train and avoiding superfluous design additions that didn’t increase rigidity. Each pivot point is supported by six spokes in three sets of two, which help distribute loads and provide vibration dampening.
The only thing that isn’t fully supported is the tourbillon, which is of the flying variety, making it a bit more delicate than the rest. And, yet, based on the FEA (finite element analysis) shown for the movement architecture, the tourbillon is only marginally more prone to deflection than the rest of the movement.
It’s all about perspective
Overall this movement’s architecture is sound, and no matter what type of watch it would power, it would perform well. So the A-300 finding its way into a diving watch shouldn’t be a surprise. What may be a surprise is simply putting a skeletonized tourbillon movement into a 300-meter diving watch with helium escape valve altogether.
But it’s clear that Angelus thinks a bit differently. And as the X Ambassadors sing, “Long live the pioneers, rebels, and mutineers. All hail the outlaws, Spielbergs, and Kubricks . . . It’s our time to break the rules.”
Angelus wants to push a bit and do things differently than before. And it isn’t being different just to be different, it is clearly working hard to create things that not only look awesome, but work just as well.
The dial may be a bit busy, but at even 30 feet under the water, colors begin to desaturate and blend together, causing the hands and internal bezel ring to stand out. The deeper you go, the less you can see.
But let’s be even more honest: most divers won’t spend $30,000 on a watch for diving. The target market is, again, a bit different. The U50 is for those people who want to know the capability is there and who dig the style regardless. It is for those that want to do things a bit differently, perhaps break the rules.
Once you look at the U50 Diver Tourbillon from that perspective, it all makes perfect sense. The style is interesting as diving watches go, but right in the ballpark as avant-garde watches go. It’s a fine line to walk but Angelus is doing it beautifully.
It is a pretty perfect mashup of old, new, and a few risks. I for one would be happy to dive with it, even if I only stayed in the kiddy pool.
So while I work up to deeper depths, how about the breakdown?
- Wowza Factor * 8.4 Angelus has a way of making you say wow, and this model does not disappoint.
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 90.5 » 887.501m/s2 A deep dive can sometimes happen late at night, and so the U50 is perfect!
- M.G.R. * 62.7 Any movement that attempts to do something a bit differently while looking cool is a winner in my book!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A Who woulda thought, another time-only watch?! Still, no need for Gotta-HAVE-That cream even though it is pretty awesome!
- Ouch Outline * 11.9 Waking up to legs that don’t work! When you complete an exceptionally hard hike before working up to it, the next day your body will hate you. But I would totally take that risk (again) if it meant the U50 on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Twenty minutes! If it says it on the internal rotating bezel, then it’s good enough for me!
- Awesome Total * 900 Take the depth rating in feet (1000) and subtract the number of hours in the power reserve (55) followed by the diameter of the case in millimeters (45) and the result is a deep-diving mashup of an awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.angelus-watches.com.
Quick Facts Angelus U50 Diver Tourbillon
Case: 42 x 12.47 mm, grade 5 titanium
Movement: manual-winding Caliber A-300 with one-minute tourbillon
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds
Price: 29,700 Swiss francs
You might also enjoy:
Angelus U40 Racing Tourbillon Skeleton: High-Performance Perfection
Historic Swiss Brand Angelus Is Back And Presents The U10 Tourbillon Lumière
Deeper, Further, Faster: Why Do Some Dive Watches Have Helium Escape Valves?
Ghostbusting & The Angelus U30 Tourbillon Rattrapante
Also published on Medium.