Modern Angelus Watches Reveal a Century-Old Spirit of Innovation
When the just-relaunched brand Angelus unveiled its first watch in 2015, it left certain members of the watch community scratching their heads. Angelus, a brand that had been shuttered for 30 years, was esteemed among vintage collectors as a maker of chronographs, particularly those with date displays.
The watch that was just launched, however, was something else entirely: an oblong lozenge with a tourbillon suspended in a display box of transparent sapphire glass. It is only now, several years later, that the real intention of that shocking launch becomes clear.
Angelus, which has just joined the lineup at Stephen Silver, is today a specialist in ultra-modern skeleton tourbillon wristwatches. Unlike so many pieces in this genre, they are not modified from existing watch movements but conceived from the beginning to realize an outstanding open-worked and balanced architectural quality.
The watches emphasize extreme lightness, with just enough structure to support the key components. The movement base plate is sapphire on the U20 and carbon fiber on the U21 and U22. Unlike traditional skeleton watches where the material is cut away, Angelus’ movement bridges take their design cues from modern engineering shapes that yield structural stability without the overuse of material. Combine this with a sleek case design, or with a rubber strap in the U41, and you have a versatile and sporty watch that is ready for anything.
Today’s Angelus watches are designed and produced by La Joux Perret, the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based complication specialist behind the Arnold & Son brand. Although small in size, La Joux Perret is a technical powerhouse, and herein lies some of the connection between the modern Angelus and its historic forebear.
The old Angelus also had technical prowess that was out of proportion to its size. In an era when many better-known brands relied on suppliers for the movements, Angelus crafted its own. Unique inventions like the first waterproof repeater stood side by side with sturdy chronographs. In 1942, the brand offered the first serially produced chronograph with a date. And while this feature was soon matched by the industrial makers, its original Chronodato remains a highly sought-after mid-century classic.
This is perhaps the most appropriate context to view the contemporary Angelus watches. By starting down an ultramodern, tourbillon-based path, the new Angelus has burned the connection to the brand’s design archives: the easy path taken by so many Swiss companies. The spirit of creativity and technical challenge, however, endures and has been updated for today.