Watchuseek Blog

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Timepieces in the English tradition: Arnold & Son Royal Collection



Eagle-eyed readers will recall that we featured the Royal Collection from John Arnold & Son in a piece about an Arnold & Son global advertising campaign back in November of last year. But now we are featuring it in more detail.

The Royal Collection is inspired by the timepieces made during the earlier part of John Arnold’s life for King George III and the royal court. This Arnold & Son Royal Collection is an eloquent expression of elegance and sophistication in the inimitable English style and demonstrates also in particular the brand’s traditional prowess in the classical decorative arts.

John Arnold and his son played a decisive role in the directions taken by English watchmaking. They combined a finely developed aesthetic sense with an ability to find solutions to technological problems, crafting magnificent movements and designs with cutting-edge mechanical features that garnered several patents.

Given the dominance of Swiss watchmaking in modern times, it is difficult to imagine an age when another horological culture and tradition held sway in Europe. The late 18th century, however, was an age when English watchmaking reigned supreme. The country’s watchmakers developed an aesthetic entirely of their own, dictated partly by contemporary taste but also by their desire to roll back the boundaries of a field that combined art, tradition and technology like no other.


TB88 



 
A timepiece that references its English watchmaking heritage, the TB88 is powered by the A&S5003 calibre, entirely conceived, designed and manufactured in-house. It brings together all the technical and aesthetic characteristics of a classical John Arnold chronometer.


The letters ‘TB’ stand for ‘true beat’, a complication that alludes to the precision timekeeping required for navigation at sea. Unlike conventional mechanical watches, a true beat movement measures out time in complete seconds rather than fractions dependent on the balance frequency. This is useful for determining the exact time and, consequently, longitude, and makes it invaluable at sea.


The TB88 is also a tribute to John Arnold’s earliest known pocket watch, of which the original case bears the number ‘88’. The number is replicated by the design of the movement in this latest model, with its perfectly symmetrical layout featuring the twin barrels at the top, the balance wheel between 4 and 5 o’clock and the true beat seconds indicator between 7 and 8.

The watch movement is ‘inverted’, which simply means that the technically interesting features are on the dial side of the movement instead of being hidden away on the reverse. This showcases the two barrels, which generate a full 100 hours’ power reserve when fully wound, and the Breguet overcoil balance spring. Bending and fitting the spring by hand is a delicate and highly skilled operation mastered by a precious few watchmakers. 


However, the feature that unquestionably sets Arnold & Son’s new TB88 apart is its unique ‘English’ design, as expressed through features like the straight-cut bridges. Each of the pivoting elements in the movement is mounted on its own bridge, 16 in total. Further shining examples of watchmaking at its finest are the hand-chamfered edges of the bridges and other key parts of the movement, together with the fascinating juxtaposition of the black and brushed components.

HMS1



 
Elegance, craftsmanship and precision effortlessly combined. The case of this award winning watch – voted Classical Watch of the Year for 2012 - is 40 mm in diameter and houses a manufacture hand-wound movement which is only 2.7 mm thick and provides an exceptional 80 hours power reserve due to its double barrel. 


Whereas most watches in this segment of the market only provide a single barrel, the solution of having two barrels provides more constant power and more constant force, which will result in improved accuracy. The watch features further haute horlogerie details such as hand angling and decoration of all bridges and fine hand stitching on the alligator leather strap.

TE8



 
With the hand-finished manufacture A&S8000 calibre, Arnold & Son’s TE8 Tourbillon is true to English haute-horlogerie watchmaking heritage.


The tourbillon escapement, one of the most elegant complications in the world of horology, has played a crucial role in Arnold & Son’s history. An exceptional watchmaker, John Arnold was an active participant in one of the most extraordinary partnerships in the world of innovative horology. Arnold and  A.-L. Breguet worked closely, sharing both their knowledge and passion. Evidence of their partnership is A.-L. Breguet’s first ever tourbillon mounted in John Arnold’s No. 11 movement, a watch that can be found today in London’s British Museum.


What sets this watch apart is its unique “English” design: the dial is a ¾ wave-form cut-out on the barrel bridge, the tourbillon and motion-work bridges are triangular, and even the three-spoke wheels are shaped with a distinctive flare. This same three-spoke design can also be found in the tourbillon cage as well. The chiseled decoration, reminiscent of waves, is a nod to the nautical world and to history’s great seamen and explorers such as James Cook, who entrusted their lives and that of their men to John Arnold’s timepieces.


To achieve the symmetrical layout of the movement requires overcoming a number of technical challenges. Thus the barrel spring and the tourbillon cage are centered along the watch’s longitudinal axis. When examining the winding system, one notes the traditional construction, which uses wheels with long and narrow spokes known as wolf’s teeth, used to improve the smoothness of the overall movement.


Specifications

TB88

Calibre: A&S5003
Exclusive Arnold & Son mechanical movement, hand-wound, 32 jewels, diameter 37.8 mm, thickness 5.9 mm, power reserve 100 h, two barrels, 18’000 vibrations/h, Breguet spring
Functions: hours, minutes, true beat seconds at 8 o’clock
Movement decoration: 18-carat rose gold case model:
nickel-silver movement, black ruthenium treated with Haute Horlogerie
finishing: manually chamfered bridges with polished edges and brushed
surfaces, mirror-polished screws
Dial colour: black open dial
Case: 18-carat rose gold, diameter 46 mm, cambered sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides, case back see-through sapphire, water-resistant
to 30 m
Strap: hand-stitched black alligator leather
Reference: 1TBAP.B01A.C113A 18-carat rose gold case


HMS1

Calibre: A&S1001
Exclusive Arnold & Son mechanical movement, hand-wound, 21 jewels,
diameter 30 mm, thickness 2.7 mm, power reserve 80 h, two barrels,
21'600 vibrations/h
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds at 6 o’clock
Movement decoration: 18-carat rose gold case:
nickel-silver movement, rhodium treated with Haute Horlogerie finishing:
manually chamfered bridges with polished edges, fine circular graining and
Côtes de Genève, blued screws
Dial colour: cream
Case: 18-carat rose gold, diameter 40 mm, cambered sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides, case back see-through sapphire, water-resistant
to 30 m
Strap: hand-stitched brown alligator leather
Limited edition: 250 timepieces
Reference: 1LCAP.W01A.C110A 18-carat rose gold case with cream dial


TE8

Calibre: A&S8000
Exclusive Arnold & Son mechanical tourbillon movement, hand-wound, 19 jewels, diameter 32.6 mm, thickness 6.25 mm, power reserve 80 h, 21’600 vibrations/h
Functions: hours, minutes, tourbillon
Movement decoration: 18-carat rose gold case model:
nickel-silver movement, black ruthenium treated with Haute Horlogerie finishing: manually chamfered bridges with polished edges, fine circular graining and A&S specific waves decoration, screwed gold chatons, mirror-polished tourbillon cage and bridge, screws with bevelled and polished heads
Dial colour: black open dial
Case: 18-carat rose gold, diameter 44 mm, cambered sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides, case back see-through sapphire, water-resistant to 30 m
Strap: hand-stitched black alligator leather
Limited edition: 25 timepieces
Reference: 1SJAP.B01A.C113A, 18-carat rose gold case, black ruthenium


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