A thin, elegant watch with nearly four days of power reserve, two separately adjustable time indications, and two tourbillons exposed on the dial: for most watch manufactures, this would likely be their top novelty piece, but for Arnold & Son, it seems to blend in with the other, highly technical pieces that the brand offers. With its sleek profile and two dials, the Arnold & Son DTE (Double Tourbillon Escapement) is a truly impressive blend of the Swiss manufacture’s UTTE ultra-thin tourbillon and its DBG double-balance wheel pieces, bringing together the best of both worlds.
The main inspiration for this technological “tour de force” is that in 2014, Arnold & Son celebrates the 250th anniversary of its watchmaking heritage. As the story goes, it was in 1764 that the company’s namesake, John Arnold was granted the permission to present to King George III a unique and small watch movement that he made. Interestingly, it was two years before, in 1762 that Arnold had established his very own workshop in London – an accomplishment most watch brands would usually consider to be a more relevant date to adhere to. Anyhow, the name and heritage that the once-British, presently Swiss made watch manufacturer carries is vast, and they certainly have been trying to live up to that.
As we have previously discussed, Arnold & Son today is the “in-house brand” of high-end Swiss movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret, which in turn is presently owned by Japanese industry giant Citizen. Nevertheless, the vast know-how and immense research and development capacities of La Joux-Perret do shine through, as the Arnold & Son DTE has a lot of impressive features crammed into its 8.35 millimeters thick and 37 millimeter wide movement: its two barrels supply 90 hours worth of power reserve, with the power being delivered through two separate going trains to the two tourbillons. Despite the relatively clean and restrained appearance of the dial, there is a lot going on underneath: the movement can be wound through the crown located at the 2 o’clock position of the case, while the other crown, located diagonally across the case, is used to separately set the second time display
The two tourbillons each operate at 3 Hertz (21,600 vibrations per hour) and make a full rotation under one minute. A very characteristic design element is the large, skeletonized, red gold bridge that secures the two escapements from above, with the hand-chamfered and polished edges of the bridge and the tourbillon cage being a nod towards essential traditional watchmaking requirements. Needless to say, each tourbillon is responsible for keeping the time of its respective subdial.
Beyond mere technicalities, another interesting feat is how Arnold & Son – this brand with excessive British watchmaking heritage, modern Swiss manufacturing know-how, and Japanese ownership – manages to consistently turn out complicated, yet tasteful and distinctive-looking watches. Despite the dual-timezone layout and the two large tourbillons all finding their way onto the dial, the face of the watch looks well balanced – something that cannot be said for all other, similarly complex watches. Since there is no one large dial to cover up the movement from the front, what makes these four large circles stand out even more is the traditional Côtes de Genève striping that has been applied to the large, dial-side plate of the movement.
The two, white lacquered subdials with their painted black indices and blued and skeletonized arrow hands make for relatively small, albeit legible displays for the hours and minutes, while a seconds-hand is entirely redundant as the tourbillons make for a more interesting substitute. A little detail that may not be obvious upon first sight is that the subdial at the 12 o’clock position sports Roman numerals, while the subdial in the lower segment of the dial has Arabic numerals – although I do wonder what the face of the Arnold & Son DTE would have looked like with two absolutely identical subdials.
When we went hands-on with the Arnold & Son DTE at Baselworld 2014, the brand also had a tiny, vintage pocket watch to show with their 2014 novelty. Sebastien Chaulmontet (Arnold & Son’s head of movement development, who we interviewed for our Grail Watch article series here) said that this tiny watch with its white enamel dial, blued hands, red gold case, and exposed mechanism inspired him with the design of the Arnold & Son DTE. The similarities are quite obvious, although it is fascinating to see the differences in size and, of course, intended purpose: one was designed and made decades or perhaps centuries ago and painstakingly crafted to invisibly hide in ones pocket, while the other is relatively large (even by today’s standards, at 43.5 millimeters wide) and is worn on the wrist, where it is – for the most part – exposed for everyone to see.
In conclusion, the Arnold & Son DTE delivers, in many ways, what we have come to expect from the brand: it marks the 250th anniversary of its namesake’s achievements in a way that is relevant today and – although we can only wonder – would likely amaze John Arnold. Price for one of the 28 limited pieces of the Arnold & Son DTE in red gold is $210,000. arnoldandson.com