For Baselworld 2017, Arnold & Son unveiled yet another masterfully skeletonized watch which conveys the brand’s conceptual DNA forward. The Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton is the newest addition to the DBG (Double-Balance GMT) collection which we reviewed the original, non-skeletonized version of in larger detail here back in 2013. For those unfamiliar with this piece, it’s essentially two movements which share a winding platform, housed in one watch. Skeletonized, this watch looks incredible and is the best illustration of Arnold & Son’s relentless progress.First, a tiny bit more about Arnold & Son’s DBG system. Every time display is powered by its own barrel, with its own equipment train, escapement, and balance, while sharing one winding system. Even though this isn’t necessarily unprecedented, because of the offsets of the shared components when compared with the individual parts, it’s not always pretty, and rarely skeletonized. But with the DBG Skeleton, we see almost perfect symmetry about the dial along with caseback.The unusual nature of the in-house A&S1309 movement permits for a few added mechanical and practical advantages. For instance, because of the distinct socket, gear train, and escapement/balance, the GMT purpose comprises a “moments” hand instead of the standard 24-hour counter just. Every time zone screen from the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton can be put to incremental quarters of this hour. So for a few Indian, Australian, and Canadian time zones that are off by half-hours, for instance, the watch may account for this. Additionally, the Equation of Time display at 12 o’clock determines the gap between each screen, in addition to whether it is day or night in the second time zone. The A&S1309 defeats at 21,600bph and features a 40-hour power book.
The Arnold & Son Tourbillon Chronometer No. 36 has a lot to live up to, since the original No. 36, made by John Arnold in England in 1778, was the first pocket watch to be referred to as a chronometer to stress its exceptional timekeeping capabilities. This was at a time when watchmakers were vying to win prizes offered by England’s Board of Longitude to devise marine chronometers (the term chronometer was coined by Englishman Jeremy Thacker in 1714) that could be used to calculate longitude to an accuracy of less than one degree. At the time such chronometers were bulky and housed in boxes, so Arnold’s success at miniaturising the technology to fit into a pocket watch was nothing short of a sensation.
If the Tourbillon Chronometer No. 36 looks unusual to you, it is probably because its movement (most of which is visible on the dial side rather than from the back of the watch, where only the tourbillon and the small seconds can be seen) is configured according to the design codes of the classic English watchmakers, rather than those of the Swiss or French. Every mobile element is mounted on its own individual bridge. There are 13 separate triangular bridges in all, in different sizes and shapes, all of which have been skeletonised to add depth to the movement. As befits a watch brand based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, there is, however, a decidedly Swiss flavour to the component finishing, with a mirror-polished bridge for the tourbillon and bevelled and polished edges on all the bridges. The mainplate is sandblasted and set with several mirror-polished jewel chatons in 18-carat gold. The mainplate and bridges have also been given a 5N red-gold coating in recollection of John Arnold’s No. 36 chronometer, which was produced in 22-carat gold.
Tourbillon Chronometer No. 36 Gunmetal © Arnold & Son
The anthracite gunmetal DLC coating on the stainless-steel case matches perfectly with the red-gold colour and is just one way in which this watch stands out from the crowd. One may think that it is only natural that the in-house calibre A&S8600 movement should have the COSC chronometer certification, but this is far from being the norm for a tourbillon. Furthermore, the power reserve is an impressive 90 hours, thanks to the two barrels that can be seen clearly in the upper part of the movement. Most impressive of all, however, is the price: At 36,400 Swiss francs (excluding VAT) this limited edition of 28 is great value for money considering its horological content.