It was back in 2013 when Arnold & Son briefly held the title of producing the world’s thinnest tourbillon watch – the UTTE, “Ultra Thin Tourbillon Escapement.” It was maybe a year later that that title was passed to another brand which was able to produce a tourbillon-based wrist watch with a bit more size shaved off the top (as though it matters in timepieces this thin). As far as I know, the current title holder of the “world’s thinnest tourbillon watch” goes to Bulgari with the Octo Finissimo Tourbillon (hands-on here).
With that said, buying a tourbillon watch shouldn’t be about it setting records, but rather about beauty and wearing enjoyment. Being the thinnest or merely “very thin” is good enough for the Arnold & Son UTTE, which is a thoroughly handsome and enjoyable watch to wear (as I mentioned in my aBlogtoWatch watch review here). With a movement that is just 2.97mm thick and a case that is just 8.34mm thick, the UTTE wearing experience is very impressive.
For 2015, Arnold & Son has released two new limited edition versions of the UTTE known as the Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche I and the UTTE Guilloche II. Each of these timepieces has a guilloche engraved dial that compliments the models well. It is actually rather common for Arnold & Son to offer new versions of existing models at the higher-end of their product spectrum that add guilloche machine engraving for additional decorative value.
One of the reasons that I continue to appreciate the UTTE watch collection is because of how well it captures some of the elements discerning watch lovers are interested in apart from the brand name on the dial. It is simply too easy to get a high-end watch by a “big name” brand and call it a day. Arnold & Son is a smaller watch maker but one with a lot of heart. I like the idea that when people get their watches it is for the design and the craftsmanship versus just the name on the dial. In other words, anyone can go out and get a Patek Philippe (for example), but it takes a real degree of connoisseurship to get involved with something like an Arnold & Son.
Proportionally and symmetrically, the UTTE is a very handsome timepiece. The two new Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche models come in 18k red gold cases which are 42mm wide. That means a broad, flatter fit on the wrist. The dial consists of an upper subdial for the hours and minutes and a lower window for the large 14mm-wide diameter tourbillon (which doubles as a seconds hand). The two subsidiary dials together sort of form a figure eight which is interesting and also offers a symmetrical look to the face. On all versions thus far, the extra space on the face is used for decorative purposes, a concept which has been enhanced a bit for the Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche I and Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche II watches.
Even the watch faces are in solid 18k gold, but are first machine guilloche engraved and then toned “silvery-white.” Unlike the arguably “subtle” decoration on the face of the original UTTE, the face decoration on the Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche watches is much more apparent and part of the overall presentation. More so, the guilloche decoration does not take away from the ability for the wearer to read the dial for the time or view the spinning tourbillon.
Inside the Arnold & Son UTTE watches are in-house made (by La Joux-Perret, where Arnold & Son watches are produced) caliber A&S8200 manually-wound mechanical movements. The A&S8200 operates at 3Hz with about 90 hours of power reserve. A power reserve indicator on the rear of the movement seen through the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback window would have been a nice touch. I tend to be very hard on high-end manually wound movements that do not include power reserve indicators these days. I am starting to believe that these are must-haves for many luxury mechanical manually wound movements. However, even if the power runs out in the Arnold & Son UTTE, the watch only indicates the time, so resetting it shouldn’t be a big deal at all.
The flying tourbillon is attractive to look at, and the movement does exhibit a lot of nice textures and finishes. There is hand-finishing, but one area that I think Arnold & Son could improve on in the future is to increase the amount and quality of hand finishing in the movements it creates. A close eye sees some of the finishing as a bit more “industrial” than picky connoisseurs might expect. Nothing about the A&S8200 movement is a disappointment, but I like the brand enough to want a maximum “wow” effect when skilled enthusiasts take a close look at their products and movements.
As each Arnold & Son UTTE watch is a limited edition, the new versions of the watches aren’t so much about appealing to the same consumer as they are about giving new collectors a reason to get an Arnold & Son UTTE if they haven’t already done so. There is nothing revolutionary about the design, but the Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche might be “the” UTTE you’ve been waiting for.
The brand is producing the Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche in two version as the reference 1UTAR.S08A.C120A Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche I and the reference 1UTAR.S09A.C120A Arnold & Son UTTE Guilloche II. Each version is limited to 28 pieces with a price of $76,250 (a slight premium over the existing models). arnoldandson.com