If you know vintage watches, you know Angelus. Manufacture La Joux-Perret is reviving the brand, and the first new watch is sure to be a surprise.
To many collectors, Angelus is best known as a creator of great-looking chronographs and multi-complication watches, especially chronographs with date, day and moon phase displays. The brand’s notable firsts include the Chronodato (1942), which was the first series wristwatch chronograph with calendar. The Chrono-Datoluxe (1948) featured the first big date in a chronograph wristwatch; it was also the first series chronograph wristwatch with a digital calendar.
The Datealarm (1956) was the first wristwatch to feature both an alarm and a date function, and in 1958, Angelus launched the first-ever automatic repeater wristwatch.
During the 1970s, Angelus succumbed to the quartz crisis and production came to a halt. La Joux-Perret has come to the rescue, and in 2011 it began developing the next generation of Angelus timepieces. Lead by CEO Frédéric Wenger and Head of Innovation Dr. Sébastien Chaulmontet, Angelus is now backed by one of the finest independent watchmaking teams in Switzerland, and their goal is to return the brand to the top tiers of high-end watchmaking.
Using the brand’s history as a guide and source of inspiration, the Angelus team has spent four years developing the next generation of timepieces. The first new model is not, as you might expect, a chronograph with a vintage-inspired look. Quite the opposite. Angelus 2.0 is not simply re-creating the past. Rather, it combines radical mechanicals that honor Angelus’s inventive spirit with a clean, modernist aesthetic that pays tribute to the industrial designers of the 1960s and 70s. The first timepiece of the new Angelus age is the U10 Tourbillon Lumière.
Angelus says the design is inspired in part by the brand’s multi-display travel clocks it was known for producing from the 1930s to the 1960s. Angelus pioneered the concept of displaying a range of information on different dials with dedicated windows for each indication.
The Lumière name derives from the light (lumière in French) that streams into the case through the seven sapphire crystals. The open, modern case houses a deconstructed movement with hours, minutes, dead-beat seconds, an oversize, one-minute flying tourbillon, and a 90-hour linear power reserve indicator on the side of the case at six o’clock.
Chaulmontet says that the configuration of the tourbillon was his starting point when designing the watch:
“We always first think of the final design of the watch that we wish to create. For the U10 Tourbillon Lumière, we wanted a large tourbillon displayed on its own in a sapphire showcase. In order to realize the design we had to develop a new movement from scratch, with the tourbillon configured apart from the rest of the movement.”
The design provides the tourbillon its own room, so to speak, and it fills the space with a cage measuring a generous 16.25 mm in diameter. The cage is hand-polished stainless steel, while the tourbillon bridge is titanium. The lack of an upper bridge, and the multiple crystals, allow the owner to enjoy unparalleled views of the regulator.
The oversize tourbillon requires significant energy, so Angelus has fitted the movement with two mainspring barrels. When fully wound, the A100 caliber provides an impressive 90 hours of power. Angelus says that the barrels are optimally sized in a special ratio for a flatter torque curve, which maximizes accuracy throughout the reserve.
The tourbillon construction may be avant garde, but the rest of the movement is classic haute horlogerie. The bridges and plates are in traditional nickel-silver that is beveled and polished, and the 2.5Hz / 18,000 vph of the screwed balance with Breguet overcoil is faithful to early Angelus pocket watches. The dead-beat seconds complication – where the second hand makes individual, full-second jumps – derives from 18th-century pocket watches.
The inclusion of dead-beat seconds in this watch has special significance, according to Chaulmontet:
“Seeing the design of the U10 Tourbillon Lumière’s dial – which is inspired from the era of quartz watches – you wouldn’t expect a sweeping seconds hand. This timepiece has dead beat seconds to honor an historically important horological complication but also to evoke the jump of the second in a quartz movement.
“What’s more, and as a touch of irony, we are imitating the very technology that signaled the death knell for Angelus, as well as many other prestigious Swiss brands, in the 1970s. Against the odds, mechanical watches have survived; Angelus has survived and is now back. So the U10 Tourbillon Lumière is our little wink at – and snub to – history.”
The case measures a generous 62.75 x 38 x 15 mm, and it took over two years to develop. The crown is oversize for easy winding, and set into the case in harmony with the design. The case is fashioned from BO-988 specific steel, which Angelus says is higher quality and purity than 316L. Its finer grain size allows for a better standard of polishing and higher level of finish.
The U10 Tourbillon Lumière launches the Angelus Urban collection. The Lumière will be produced in a limited edition of 25 pieces in stainless steel. The price has not yet been released. Look for additional information during Baselworld, March 19-26. Find complete specifications below.