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BaselWorld 2014: Belles of the Fair: Arnold & Son Instrument watches

by Peter Chong on May 13, 2014

Arnold & Son is an old English watchmaking company. Originating from 1764, she celebrates here 250th Anniversary this year. Amazing, when considering that Patek Philippe is only celebrating the 175th Anniversary.

 

The Arnold & Son Dead Beat Chronograph. A masterful combination of the precisely jumping second hand and the chronograph movement. Makes one wonder why this has not been done before.

The Arnold & Son Chronograph True Beat. A masterful combination of the precisely jumping second hand and the chronograph movement. The dead beat mechanism is made more complicated as the seconds hand is coaxial to the chronograph seconds hand, which is also dead beat, on a second mechanism. A feat protected by 2 patents.

 

But the brand was non-existant for a long time. From the hey days of English watch and clockmaking, the trade of producing time pieces moved to Paris, and later to Switzerland where it remained as the terroir of choice for luxury timepieces. The name of Arnold & Son and other English watchmaking names were purchased by a Swiss industrialist Eric Loth some 20 years ago under his umbrella company The British Masters. The British Masters then owned Arnold & Son, specializing in chronometers, Graham specializing in chronographs and Tompion. However, these watches were not constructed in the English traditions. But were clever Swiss watches, built by Jean-Pierre Jacquet with English names. In our view, this characteristic has not changed, although the stage and players are now different. The watches made by Arnold & Son remain Swiss.

 

The Arnold caliber A&S7103, dead beat chronograph.

The Arnold caliber A&S7103, self winding, column wheel, ceramic ball bearing, 31 jewels.
Finished with grey treated finishing, hand chamfered anglage and polished edges, fine circular graining and Côtes de Genève, rayonnantes, circular satin-finished wheels, screws with bevelled and mirror-polished heads. Oscillating weight: skeletonised with brushed surfaces. Finishing is well done, without extravagance in the decoration.

 

The British Masters eventually was dissolved, and the component brands came under separate ownership. Graham remained under the control of Eric Loth, while Arnold & Son was controlled by Prothor. Prothor also owned the Manufacture La Joux-Perret SA (formerly known as Jacquet SA). In May 2012, the Japanese watchmaking giant Citizen acquired Prothor, and hence ownership of Arnold & Son and La Joux-Perret.

 

Arnold & Son DSTB (Dial Side True Beat), with the dead beat mechanism shown proudly on the dial side of the movement.

Arnold & Son DSTB (Dial Side True Beat), with the dead beat mechanism shown proudly on the dial side of the movement.

 

Under the Citizen ownership, and with the resources of La Joux-Perret available, we see BaselWorld 2014 as a great turning point for Arnold & Son. The introduction of 7 new watches, of which several are world premieres is an indication of things to come. In this review, we explore 2 which feature the visually arresting and innovative dead beat seconds or second morte, and one with a double tourbillon.

 

Armold Caliber A&S6003.

Armold Caliber A&S6003. Showing the detail of the triple cocks holding the dead beat mechanism. The floating seconds chapter ring in sapphire crystal allows the beauty of the dead beat mechanism to be fully visible.

 

The dead beat seconds, Arnold & Son nomenclature uses the term True Beat, is a special mechanism which when fitted to a mechanical movement, allows the second hand to move in jumps of 1 second each. This is a rather special complication, as it allows the watchmaker to showcase the precision of the watch. It might be noted that quartz movements also feature this dead beat seconds arrangement, but for an altogether different reason. The reason why the second hand in a quartz watch move in one second increments is to save battery power, as the battery only needs to provide an impulse once every second.

 

Arnold & Son DTE, Dual Time, Double Tourbillon.

Arnold & Son DTE, Dual Time, Double Tourbillon. Both timezones can be set independently of the other. The finishing of the tourbillon cocks are in 18k red gold, and magnificently finished and polished. The tourbillon cages are also finely finished, and polished.

 

The DTE, Dual Time, Double Tourbillon is another type of virtuoso work done to showcase La Joux-Perret’s mastery of the complications.

 

Arnold & Son AS8513, dual timezone, double tourbillon.

Arnold & Son AS8513, dual timezone, double tourbillon. Detail, showing the mastery of the finishing techniques, and the beauty of the design and execution. The 18kt red gold bridge is magnificently finished, polished on all edges, anglaged and skeletonized to allow the tourbillon cage, also appropriately beautifully finished to be visible.

 

The double tourbillon is shown on the front of the movement, on two magnificently designed and executed 18kt red gold cocks holding the tourbillons. The design aesthetic is made perfect with the balancing of the lacquered dials for the dual timezones at 12 and 6 o’clock positions.

 

Arnold Caliber A&S8513, double tourbillon, dual timezone.

Arnold Caliber A&S8513, double tourbillon, dual timezone. Finishing detail is quite well executed. Note the beautifully machined spring holding the click in place. This virtuoso type of fine design and finishing differentiates the movement, and elevates it to haute horlogerie. However, it is also interesting to note that although the two bridges have fingers holding jewels which mirror each other on the left and right of the movement, seen here at 2 and 8 o’clock, the design of the smooth curves is a simplification of the design, requiring less work than if the bridges were designed with sharp inward and outward points where it accomodates the jewels.

 

We feel that Arnold & Son has come a long way. With the injection of Citizen capital, and with the stablemate La Joux-Perret’s expertise and savoire faire, the brand is seen as leading the way amongst the small independents.

 

Arnold & Son CTB, chronograph with dead beat seconds.

Arnold & Son CTB, chronograph with dead beat seconds on my wrist. 42mm in diameter, fits perfect.

 

 

 

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