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Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son produces a wide range of watches that vary in their level of romanticism, complication, and technical attributes. From their highly technical UTTE tourbillon, to the very romantic Time Pyramid, or even the complicated and impressive CTB Chronograph, Arnold & Son has an undeniable ability to turn heads with beautiful and detailed designs that instill a distinctively artistic feel to their watch making. This year at Baselworld Arnold & Son had quite a few pieces to show, including the new Arnold & Son DSTB. Like many of the watches in their Instrument collection, the Arnold & Son DSTB packs an interesting and seldom seen complication and is named as an acronym, shorthand for Dial Side True Beat.

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

True beat is a complication that allows the seconds hand to tick rather than sweep. The feature, which is also sometimes called “dead seconds,” is more of a technical and aesthetic accomplishment than a practical feature with tool applications. On the Arnold & Son DSTB, the entire true beat mechanism is executed in full view atop the dial, along with a focused separate display for the seconds hand. While the hours and the minutes are relegated to a subsidiary dial at four o’clock, the seconds display floats above the beautifully finished metallic dial with a three-dimensional raised sapphire scale and a blued steel hand.

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Executed in a 43.5 mm 18k red gold case, the effect is wonderfully detailed, and not only is each individual element beautifully finished, but the beat seconds lever is adorned with an anchor, a nautical icon that connects throughout Arnold & Son’s designs and branding. The dial view offers a multi-layered scene that is rooted in a deep grey dial with radial finishing. The main time dial is a white lacquer with roman numerals and blued steel hands. The fine detailing continues on the flip side where a sapphire display case back allows for a view of the automatic Arnold & Son 6003 movement.

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The 6003 is composed of 229 components, including 32 jewels and the dead beat mechanism visible on the dial. With a power reserve of 50 hours, this movement runs at 28,800 vph and is host to a high level of finishing.

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Arnold & Son DSTB wears a bit smaller than expected for watch with such a complex and open dial view. The red gold is matched with a lovely brown leather strap and the entire piece feels usable (thanks to the legibility of the hours and minutes display) and very special. The domed and anti-reflective sapphire crystal does an excellent job of managing reflections and ensures a clear and distortion free view of the dial and its three dimensional presentation.

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son DSTB Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Sporting a price tag of $46,500, the DSTB will be limited to just 50 units and I would wager that such a beautiful execution of a rather esoteric complication will make the DSTB quite popular with collectors and Arnold & Son fans alike.

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  • Ulysses31

    Such an attractive, classy watch.  It’s a bit thick but really, who cares?  It’s great how you can see key parts of the movement operating on the front.

  • RyanOuld

    Arnold & Son continue to make some of the best watches bar none!

  • Another gorgeous A&S piece. Definitely one of my favorites at BaselWorld 2014.  Looks even better in person. Its  fun to watch the anchor move too. While on one hand a dead beat seconds might seem like the opposite of what you expect in a  mechanical watch (bringing to mind quartz movements with their 1 second beat for power conservation), a dead beat is essentially a secondary escapement. And in this case, one that is presented for your viewing pleasure on the face of the watch.

  • gadgety

    Arnold & Son are on a roll design, quality and quantity wise. BTW where’s the video which surely this watch merits?

  • Tough to say anything negative here, eve if it is Rose gold! The little details are what make it worth talking about. In the macros you see different finishes on the exposed mechanisms: a brushed finish on the top level and a blasted one a step down. The seconds dial at that 3/4 angle seems to float above the sapphire over the dial, for an amazingly sunning effect. Can’t say that I’m over the moon about he anchor-shaped lever in the dead seconds mechanism, bu it is certainly not offensive either.
    The movement view is actually less impressive than the dial. It is very nice, don’t get me wrong, but a time-only watch with that many parts in it, I guess I was just expecting something different. The smooth balance wheel and well finished but modestly decorated gears and bridges don’t exactly conjure up thoughts of the impressive manufacture that the come from, but it is a lovely movement just the same. Watches of this stature always seem to be better received (by me) when they are manually wound,even thought hr automatic arrangement is obviously more convenient.
    The dead seconds thing is very cool, don’t get me wrong, but when is someone going to mechanically tackle a smoother seconds action? The El Primero has been around forever at this point, and is still very impressive, and then Breguet came along and sorted out 10hz, but I want to see someone really swing for the fences and give that old tuning fork or Precisionist action a run for the money without the need for batteries or electronics.

  • Feller87

    Another fantastic offering from A & S

    I particularly appreciate the minimalist mechanical display integrated into the dial without being a skeleton, I don’t think I have ever seen that on a watch before, its like modern industrial art.

    My one gripe is that over 3/4 of the movement in the back of the movement is plated over, and it is an automatic (that usually happens by manually winding watches, which I prefer less for this reason) 

    It even teases you with some beautifully engraved edges around the plate, leaving you wondering what you could have seen had they left it exposed 😉

    I’m also wondering if Ulysses Nardin will sue for use of the anchor?

  • ZL

    Arnold & Son are one of the most consistently beautiful, interesting, balanced, and overall “wow” brands out there. They compete with much louder timepieces without being loud themselves.

  • flaviothepage

    I really don´t like the little anchor…

  • TheBalanceWhl

    Looks like the same La Joux-Perret movement that everyone is killing Bremont over right now.

  • Gregwatch

    Beautiful watch and a unique interpretation of the dead beat seconds mechanisms. Wow

  • This would be the only way I would stand having a mechanical watch with “dead beat” seconds, with the complication more or less on display on the dial. I would’t want to have it appear that I am wearing a quartz watch……..egads.

  • Ilow

    Truly beautiful – really like the way it has not been over-cooked. One of the only dials I have ever seen on a watch where the use of roman numerals are not a tacky attempt to add class, but suit perfectly.

  • SuperStrapper Does Spring Drive count in your book?

  • I didn’t want to say it. I love the spring drive, but climb into a forum one day and announce it as a mechanical movement. Suicide mission.

  • gyang333

    James, doesn’t that look a little (re: A LOT) like Bremont’s supposedly “in-house” movement?

  • spiceballs

    I applaud their innovation and presentation.

  • SuperStrapper Practically speaking I don’t think it is possibly to implement a smoothly running seconds hand in a mechanical watch –the upper limit on how many increments per second the hand can jump forward is how often the escapement unlocks, which is directly connected to how many semi-oscillations per second the balance makes.  Running the going train of a watch at 10Hz is already pushing it (chronograph trains can be made to run at much higher frequencies but you need to run them for much less than a normal 2-3 day going train power reserve and/or drive them off a dedicated, separate mainspring barrel.)  It’s an interesting problem though –a while back (a year or more?) de Bethune sent out a press release on an escapement driven by an oscillating membrane –purely mechanical, running at 926 Hz.  Whether it’s practical even in principle in a working watch I have no idea but it was a very cool proof-of-concept.

  • Bah, I ain’t buying it. I understand the mechanics just fine, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Remember this conversation one day when it happens.

  • SuperStrapper I would be the last to say that my inability to think of a practical solution after five minutes’ thought in a comment thread is definitive proof it’s impossible, but I’m sure you’d agree it’s not a trivial challenge.

  • Certainly, at the same time as you are agreeing that I did not at any point suggest it is a trivial challenge. My original call to action was for someone to ‘swing for the fences’. That is a casual and conversational way of suggesting great effort be applied.
    I’m well aware of the difficulty in the undertaking. Otherwise I’m sure it would already exist. If it were like tying shoes or making a sandwich, it wouldn’t be worth talking about.

  • SuperStrapper Absolutely.  My only point was that this is a problem that’s somewhat related directly to something fundamental about any mechanical timekeeper, which is the frequency of the oscillator. There are two choices, you can either run the oscillator at a faster beat (which introduces apparently severe technical problems, probably insurmountable beyond a certain point) or you have to figure out a way to get a continuously driven wheel turning exactly once per minute out of the system.  Both approaches appear to present fundamentally unsolvable problems.  We can say “surely there must be a way to do it if only we try hard enough” but that is rather like saying “surely you can exceed the speed of light if only you try hard enough.”  Maybe it’s true but that’s not where the smart money is. 😉 .

  • Watches are rarely smart money.

  • Ulysses31

    JackForster SuperStrapper

  • Ulysses31 JackForster SuperStrapper I mean, yeah, that’s a great video and it illustrates a few interesting points; probably the most salient is that if you’re running a watch at 28,800 vph it’s already pretty darned smooth, and at 36K vph you’d be very hard pressed to perceive it as starting and stopping at all.  The other 800 pound gorilla in the room is the AP direct impulse escapement which, in the ChronAP is running quite fast –43,200 vph.  I talked to Giulio Papi at APRP about it the last time I was over there (last year) and the the escapement lends itself to being run at a high frequency but it’s a challenge to industrialize it (which they would like to do) and as with the co-axial escapement in its early days at Omega getting it to run as a small production, hand-tuned machine is one thing, getting it to run well when you’re making, say, a few thousand is another.  I was under the impression though that @superstrapper wanted a continuously running seconds hand.  A fast beat movement can certainly give the feel of a constant seconds hand but it is not continuously driven.  It’s an interesting problem.

  • SuperStrapper I have not thought this through completely so I may be full of crap (as usual). But it may be possible to emulate continuous motion with incremental impulse (which a watch movement has). Think of a situation which is the reverse as a starting point. 
    If you have a strong but box with cube inside of it. The have equal mass and we are assuming zero friction (yeah, I know). The cube is placed on the far side of the box. You kick the near side. The box moved forward until the inside of the kicked side strikes the cube. The energy of the box is transferred to the cube. The box them comes to a stop and the cube moves forward until it strikes the far side of the box. Energy is transferred back to the box. The box then moves forward again.
    The center of combined mass is continuously moving forward at a constant rate. However looking only at the box you see incremental movement.
    If that concept can be applied in reverse it might be possible to have what appears to be continuous motion. 
    Think of the second hand providing impulse/regulation to free spinning visible seconds hand. This visible hand would be kicked by the conventional second hand but also constrained by a limiting fork on the conventional second hand so it can’t get too far ahead.
    Just thinking out loud here…

  • +1 internets.

  • Ulysses31

    MarkCarson SuperStrapper As an alternative analogy, how about a pulse jet engine, where rapid short-duration bursts lead to a smooth motion during flight… or a put-put boat.

  • Ulysses31

    JackForster SuperStrapper You could use a modified centrifugal governor, from the steam age.  As the watch sped up and began running too fast, centripetal forces would cause balanced weights to spread further apart.  Instead of this movement regulating a valve of some sort, it could be designed so that the balanced weights approached a permanently magnetic ring, which would induce eddy currents in the spinning weights, generating “drag” and causing them to slow down and bring the watch back into accurate time-keeping.  You could regulate the movement by adjusting tension in the governor arms or changing the proximity of the magnet.  This way you could forgo a quartz crystal, coils etc.  Smooth movement, no ticking, no electricity.

  • Ulysses31 JackForster SuperStrapper Well, what you’re describing is basically one of the two systems used to regulate the speed at which a minute repeater chimes –the other is a recoil anchor escapement, which makes a distinctive buzzing sound.  Most repeaters with fly regulators don’t use magnets but at least one does –Breguet made a music-box watch a couple of years ago with a magnetic regulator.  It’s a bit different from what you’ve described but the principle is the same.

    The problem is that achieving the necessary precision in regulation for a seconds hand would be extremely difficult.  Such systems are precise enough for the 15-18 seconds that it takes for a typical repeater to chime, but fly governors tend to vary over time enough that it would probably be much less than a day before your seconds hand had drifted considerably from the actually internal beat of the escapement.  You would need to have a system for correcting the regulation of the seconds hand regulator.  Seiko deals with this in the Spring Drive by have a quartz resonator that corrects the drag on the flywheel controlling the second hand about 8 times a second (if I’m remembering correctly) and the same quartz timing package is also controlling the hour and minute hands, so as you can see everything’s kept in synchrony.  In this thought experiment, you’d need some way of allowing any drift in the fly governor’s regulation of the seconds hand to somehow be “read” by the watch, and then corrected by the escapement.

    You can definitely get continuous motion from discrete impulses as other posters to this thread have quite correctly pointed out, but regulating that motion so that it’s in synchrony with the oscillator seems quite difficult.

  • MarkCarson SuperStrapper that’s an interesting idea –it seems to me the visible hand would be moving in incremental jumps as well, though, unless you had a damping system for it, and it would have to be one that decelerates the “visible” hand enough to prevent it from making a hard stop on the limiting fork –I’m trying to visualize it and my sense is you’d still get the appearance of discrete jumps.

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