Swiss watchmaker Angelus traces its origins all the way back to 1891 but its most recent revival began in 2015, after a long post-Quartz Crisis hiatus. In the years since, it has become known for its boldly avant-garde designs and idiosyncratic takes on classic complications. The latest examples can be found in the new U23 models — eight unique pieces, with openworked flying tourbillon calibers housed in high-tech carbon-titanium cases and featuring colorways inspired by classic cocktails.
The U23 “Carbon Cocktail” watches (as they have been playfully nicknamed) are descendants of Angelus’s existing U21 and U22 models, equipped with the skeletonized Caliber A-250, noted for its prominent flying tourbillon and mainplate made from a hard yet lightweight composite material called Carbon Thin Ply (CTP). The U22 was the first in the collection to use the combination of CTP and titanium in its case, the same materials used in the new U23. What sets the new models apart are their skeletonized, PVD-treated titanium bridges, each in colorful executions intended to evoke the spirit, if you will, of a popular mixologist’s concoction.
Framed inside 42-mm-diameter round cases, under a box-style sapphire crystal, these colored bridges are screwed into the CTP mainplate that acts as the dial; their shades are each tailored to graphically represent the ingredients of a cocktail: the “Negroni” model’s bridges are in orange, like the drink’s mixture of gin and vermouth, for example, while the “Cosmopolitan” is accented with the blue-purple colors of blueberry vodka. The “Tequila Sunrise” incorporates the pink, blue, and orange hues of fruit juice and grenadine, while the dominant Blue Curacao colors accentuate the bridges of the “Ocean View.” Each of the eight watches also has a coordinating color for its minute circle. (The cocktail theme is relatively new to the world of watchmaking, though fans of Seiko’s Prospex series have been treated to some distinctly Japanese interpretations. Angelus is the first brand to apply the motif to haute horlogerie tourbillon pieces.)
The cases combine a case middle and back made of CTP with lugs made of titanium. The ultra-light, ultra-rigid CTP material is composed of hundreds of layered sheets of carbon, piled in a solid mass and further solidified with a technical resin fired at high temperatures and pressures to create a solid block which is then machined into pieces like a metal. In addition to its lightness and hardness, CTP is soft to the touch, anti-allergenic, and non-magnetic. The material is also, Angelus tells us, very hard to pierce, so all the holes in the mainplate are set with solid gold chatons to hold the jewels.
Caliber A-250, whose major technical features can be viewed from the front, holds a 90-hour power reserve in its openworked barrel, placed unconventionally at 12 o’clock. The flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, sans an upper bridge, appears to float freely in its large window above the mainplate. Connecting those aforementioned elements is a gear train. Together, they form the heart of the manually wound movement, suspended over the CTP mainplate as if on tiny stilts. The arms of the tourbillon cage are skeletonized in the same style as the bridges and the visible wheels, adding to the “open,” light-and-airy look of the dial.
All eight of the Angelus U23 timepieces are mounted on carbon-treated alligator leather with titanium buckles. Priced at $46,700, they are, as previously noted, unique pieces — so, unlike the cocktails they’re named after, you can’t order another one if you miss the first round.
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My eyes hurt.