Arnold & Son Men’s Replica introduced the UTTE Tourbillon just three years ago, at which time it was one of the thinnest hand-wound tourbillons in the world. Although there are other extra-flat/ultra-thin tourbillons out there that are slimmer, Arnold & Son says this is the thinnest skeletonized tourbillon currently in production – and as far as I can tell, that’s absolutely right.
The Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton Tourbillon Replica is currently the thinnest openworked tourbillon in the world.
The standard version of the UTTE Tourbillon is an interesting design in its own right, and it came along at an interesting time in Arnold & Son’s history. The company was acquired by Citizen in 2012, along with the movement manufacturer La Joux Perret (both were owned by Prothor, a holding company) and there has been a significant change in the aesthetics of Arnold & Son’s replica watches since. In a relatively short period of time, the replica watches underwent a major design overhaul. The somewhat scattered and occasionally cluttered, or excessively decorative, designs of the brand’s earlier replica watches was replaced with a much more unified design philosophy overall, with an unusually coherent design vocabulary. The UTTE Tourbillon was one of the first Arnold & Son replica watches to express this new approach – technical and very clean, but with a kind of spare elegance of line and care in composition that underscores the technical features of the replica watches without straying into the pointlessly ornate.
Arnold & Son still does some very decorative replica watches – the Perpetual Moon is a good example – but in general, its replica watches have become less decorative for decoration’s sake, and more an exercise in well-integrated movement design and overall aesthetics; you really get the feeling that the replica watches are built from the ground up around the movements. A great example of this is the Golden Wheel, which is a modern take on the very old wandering hours complication. For this sort of thing to work, the movements have to have a certain level of fineness in execution, and in that respect La Joux Perret (via Arnold & Son) is doing some really great work indeed.
The UTTE Tourbillon is a pretty satisfying replica watch. The only gripe a really stubborn stickler for horological purism might have with it is the name – UTTE stands for Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement, and of course the tourbillon is not an escapement, but a regulating device. This is easily understood when you recall that a tourbillon can be made with different escapements – the lever is the most widely used today, but Breguet made tourbillons with detent escapements as well, as did other makers. Openworking it doesn’t just produce a more transparent version of the original; it really becomes an entirely different replica watch altogether.