Minor legibility and decorative caveats aside, the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton is a handsome watch which manages to walk the fine line between attention-seeking and refinement with its bold, yet slender case and gold-on-silver colour. A whole lot of functionality is on offer for travelers that can utilize the well-executed GMT complication, and fans of mechanical watches are rewarded with views of these double balance wheels with each glance in the wrist. It is great to see the historic name of Arnold & Son still producing timepieces which push the boundaries of movement style, and do this in a well implemented, thoughtful way. One thing I have in common with Arnold & Son’s designer for movements and overall new aesthetic, Sebastien Chaulmontet, is a love of symmetry. No, not all of the things he designs are perfectly symmetrical – after all, there have to be some variety in life – however, he tries harder than perhaps anyone else in regards to both the case and dial of a watch, in addition to the motion, to achieve aesthetic equilibrium. The Arnold & Son Nebula – which is a new model for 2016 – is all about that the quest to create a motion as symmetrical-looking as you can.
Every one of both Arnold & Son Nebula watches can be found black or black brown alligator straps. The steel version may also arrive with a grey, brown, or blue leather straps (exactly the same as those you can view here when we looked in the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy see). For people who liked the idea of this TB88 but felt that it wasn’t refined enough or too big, the Arnold & Son Nebula is a fantastic choice. Cost for the Arnold & Son Nebula benchmark 1NEAS. B01A.D134A in steel is $14,500 USD along with the mention 1NEAR. Though it has dropped the name of this world’s thinnest tourbillon see to the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon, which has not ceased Arnold & Son out of enhancing its UTTE watch. Earlier this year, they debuted the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch, which claims the title of world’s thinnest skeleton tourbillon watch.Creating an ultra-thin watch is not a simple feat. First of all (and naturally), there is the difficulty of manufacturing components to be as thin as they can possibly be. Second, and possibly more importantly, there’s the requirement to ensure that although the watch is as thin as it could be, usefulness and reliability are not adversely affected. Since the watch and its components become thinner, they can also be sturdy and resistant to outside forces. To put it differently, they may be more vulnerable to becoming flexed and ruined.
Limited to just a handful of pieces, this is the Arnold & Son TE8 Métiers d’Art I, which is a distinctly decorated version of the larger TE8 watch collection and I happen to find it quite stunning. Reading the Arnold & Son website, you’d really think the brand was English, the way they talk about traditional English watchmaking and movement decoration. Are they British? Not really. John Arnold, the legendary English watchmaker was, of course, from England. The Arnold & Son of today is a testament to his work and legacy, though it is entirely Swiss.
There are very few actual watchmakers left in England producing timepieces (like Roger Smith), even though it is coming back (a bit). Most watches of this ilk are produced in Switzerland, and Arnold & Son is, unsurprisingly, one of them. In fact, Arnold & Son is a sort of extension of the La Joux-Perret movement manufacturer. Given that internal expertise and capability, Arnold & Son is able to produce such a wealth of interesting and complicated in-house movements. So why they focus so much on the English thing is strange to me. It is not enough to be inspired but a great English watchmaker but be resolutely Swiss?
The dial design is average “marine chronometer” with the primary dial to the time plus a symmetrical design for the power reserve indicator under 12 o’clock, and a subsidiary seconds dial more than 6 o’clock. What makes the dials very unique is machine guilloche engraving which is then lacquered for color. The “squiggly line” style pattern (I am certain that is how the French-speaking horologers of older would refer to them – “le squiggelle!”) Are lovely as well as the dials of this Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy watches are offered in either blue, black, or silver… as well as good-looking fitting calf leather straps.Legibility and sexiness is packed with the dials that have, in my opinion, the perfect mixture of class and elegance, as well as a propensity to grab focus. Strong yet traditional-looking hands add a feeling of manly function, and Arnold & Son was even able to add a date indicator window to the mix (from the subsidiary seconds dial). Powering the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy watches would be the newly developed Arnold & Son caliber A&S1016 manually wound movement. At just 4.7mm thick, the movement provides a full eight days (192 hours) of power reserve (involving two barrels) operating at 3Hz (21,600bph).
In recent decades, Arnold & Son have released several pieces which are just marvels of watchmaking. Pieces like the Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement (hands-on) and the Time Pyramid (hands-on) and this, the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton watch, which supplies a Double Balance and GMT disadvantage (which is where the acronym DBG originates) along with an impressively symmetrical motion shown off in complete using a skeletonized dial along with display caseback. This model was released for Baselworld 2017 and we shared our initial impressions here. Here, we’ll go hands-on with the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton and explore what makes this view tick, aside from, you know.The dual balances.When it has to do with assessing the importance of this watch, I consider it crucial to consider the new history. Arnold & Son was founded in 1764 by John Arnold in London’s Strand. At the same year, he introduced a half-quarter repeater watch mounted inside a ring to King George III, which he followed up four years later with a gold and enamel minute repeater fitted with jeweled pivot holes, bimetallic temperature compensation, along with a jeweled cylinder escapement. Arnold named this view the “No. 1,” beginning a naming convention he’d use for his most significant timepieces heading forward.
Do a number of the world’s most popular designs and you’ll discover that people are attracted to symmetry – particularly bilateral symmetry. With the Nebula, Arnold & Son tries to go beyond that with a motion design that offers a large amount of bilateral symmetry if cut either vertically or horizontally. Of course, it is not ideal symmetry, but this is not the purpose. The most important idea here is to experiment with this intriguing movement architecture and see how it makes using a skeletonized dial even better. What should you think?Many forms of motion skeletonization require a non-skeletonized movement and attempt to cut it up. Among the very popular movements out there that receives this therapy is the humble ETA UNITAS (6497 and 6498) that has witnessed a large range of techniques to split it up in artistic ways. Skeletonization began out by really having to skeletonize something, but more recently moves are being designed from the ground up to be observable. This is exactly what Arnold & Son has done with many of their moves, for example, grade A&S5101 that exists inside of the Arnold & Son Nebula. One of the less often discussed things about Arnold & Son is that despite earning significantly less than 1000 watches each year, their brand new versions mostly have new movements.
While this question may seem inane to some, I think they are going to become more and more relevant, as Arnold & Son has been on a wonderful roll over the last few years, producing consistently cool timepieces at both the ultra-high-end range as well as the “normal” high-end range. This is due to a combination of their talented lead designer, as well as their industrial flexibility when it comes to making new cases, components, or entire movements. That they are willing to experiment with so many ideas, so often, is a true testament to their (Swiss) work.
Among their tourbillon-based models, is the TE8 (Tourbillon Escapement 8, which refers to the 80 hours of power reserve) and it comes in a few versions. This TE8 Métiers d’Art I version is perhaps the most visually arresting as it contains a unique machine engraved design for much of the dial that was created exclusively for this piece. It takes up more than half of the overall face, and is really stunning to look at.
One thing that is very interesting in comparison to other Arnold & Son watches is the use of German Silver for the movement plates. German Silver is actually not at all silver, but an alloy that has a lot of nickel and is used in some special high-end watch movements from brands such as A. Lange & Sohne, as well as in some Jaeger-LeCoultre watches (probably a few others brands as well). German Silver does not need to be plated (like brass does) and develops a nice golden patina over time. German Silver tends to hold decorative engravings and polishes very well, even though it is harder than brass.
The movement inside of the TE8 watch is the Arnold & Son caliber A&S8000. It is manually wound with 80 hours of power reserve and operates as a frequency of 21,600 bph (3Hz). The movement contains a traditional-styled tourbillon and the time. The mainspring barrel is partially skeletonized and viewable under 12 o’clock on the dial. Being able to see how tightly wound the spring is acts as a sort of power reserve indicator. The overall presentation of the A&S8000 movement is very good.
A lot of the movement decoration is done by hand, and he overall finishing of the movement is in a dark tone so this is not unfinished German Silver. Some of the movement is rhodium plated while other elements are in a NAC gray plated finish. I happen to like deeper colored movements that are decorated. It helps keep them masculine in appearance, but also classically high-end.
On the wrist the Arnold & Son TE8 Métiers d’Art I sits 44mm wide in 18k rose gold. Arnold & Son wasn’t going for a small watch, so this certainly isn’t one. One of the things I like about Arnold & Son is that they aren’t afraid to produce very traditionally-themed watches in sizes a lot more watch lovers wish to wear today.
In recent decades, Arnold & Son have released several bits that are just marvels of watchmaking. Pieces like the Ultra-Thin Tourbillon Escapement (hands-on) along with the Time Pyramid (hands-on) and this, the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton watch, that supplies a Double Balance and GMT complication (which is where the acronym DBG originates) along with an impressively symmetrical motion shown off in full with a skeletonized dial and exhibition caseback. This version was released for Baselworld 2017 and we shared our first impressions here. Here, we will go hands-on with the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton and explore what makes this view tick, besides, you know.The dual balances.When it comes to evaluating the importance of this view, I believe it crucial to consider the new history. Arnold & Son was founded in 1764 by John Arnold at London’s Strand. At precisely the same year, he introduced a half-quarter repeater watch mounted inside a ring to King George III, which he followed up four decades later with a gold and enamel minute repeater fitted with jeweled pivot holes, bimetallic temperature compensation, along with a jeweled cylinder escapement. Arnold named this view the “No. 1,” beginning a naming convention he’d use for his most important timepieces going forward.
On the opposite side of the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton, the base plate of the manufacture grade A&S1309 is revealed. The motion is made of nickel silver (also known as German silver or Maillechort, an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc) which was rhodium-plated and embellished with Côtes de Genève. The wheels are satin-finished and supply a contrasting three dimensional feel into the bottom plate, and between the chamfered edges of these bridges, the gold gear train could be viewed. The movement is hand wound of course, which leads to its thinness in a mere 3.9mm. It includes 42 stones and provides a 40 hour power reserve while the double accounts oscillate at 21,600vph, or 3Hz. This is undoubtedly a highly elegant movement, but compared to the thickness of detail given by this skeletonized dial, the reverse side of this movement almost feels like a letdown.Despite the large 44mm instance, the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton wears fairly nicely, with its slender 9.89millimeter profile easily slipping under a shirt cuff and the tapered lugs nicely hammering the wrist. The situation is made of 4N increased gold along with the sapphire crystal has anti-reflective coating on both sides to help remove distracting reflections. My mind went to the Jaeger-LeCoultre Duomètre models, but where they provide twin barrels regulated by the exact same balance wheel, the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton goes full monoblock style for every dial, in the event the Hi-Fi analogy is in any way apt for describing a wristwatch.
Arnold & Son will produce just eight pieces of the limited edition TE8 Métiers d’Art I watch, but again this just one of a few TE8 collection watches (though I happen to feel that it is the most attractive). Overall the TE8 mixes the legibility and boldness of a high-end watch someone might wear on a regular basis, with an old-world decorative charm that I think the brand just keeps getting better and replicating. Price is $131,900. arnoldandson.com
Skeletonizing an already super-thin movement is therefore doubly hard – chiefly because eliminating any more substance is bound to affect structural rigidity. The new A&S8220 calibre measures 3.3mm thick, which is approximately 0.3mm thicker. Arnold & Son states the additional depth is imperative to ensure that the movement doesn’t flex while on the wrist.Nevertheless, let’s not kid ourselves, a thickness of 3.3mm remains seriously impressive to get a skeletonized tourbillon motion with 2 barrels and a power reserve of 90 hours, or almost 4 days. While the movement is thicker, Arnold & Son has managed to maintain the general thickness of the watch case exactly the same. That usually means the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch is just 8.34mm thick, just like the first UTTE watch.On the wrist, the Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch is as you would expect, which is to say it wears extremely thin and is extremely light. It sits comfortably on the wrist too, partly due to the well-made hand-stitched brown alligator strap, and partly because the situation tapers toward the case back. The taper also accentuates the thinness of this Arnold & Son UTTE Skeleton watch. Despite all these little features, with its 42mm-wide 5N red gold case, the UTTE Skeleon watch nonetheless has an outstanding wrist presence. Partly, this is also due to its rather big tourbillon cage.