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Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

One thing I have in common with Arnold & Son‘s designer for movements and overall brand aesthetic, Sebastien Chaulmontet, is a love of symmetry. No, not all of the things he designs are perfectly symmetrical – after all, there must be some variety in life – but he tries harder than perhaps anyone else when it comes to both the case and dial of a watch, as well as the movement, to achieve aesthetic balance. The Arnold & Son Nebula – which is a new model for 2016 – is all about that the quest to make a movement as symmetrical-looking as possible.

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Do a survey of the world’s most popular designs and you’ll find that people are attracted to symmetry – especially bilateral symmetry. With the Nebula, Arnold & Son tries to go beyond that with a movement design that offers a large amount of bilateral symmetry if cut either vertically or horizontally. Of course, it isn’t perfect symmetry, but that isn’t the point. The main idea here is to experiment with this fascinating movement architecture and see how it makes having a skeletonized dial even better. What do you think?

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Many forms of movement skeletonization take a non-skeletonized movement and try to cut it up. One of the most popular movements out there that receives this treatment is the humble ETA UNITAS (6497 and 6498) that has seen a large range of techniques to carve it up in artistic ways. Skeletonization started out by actually having to skeletonize something, but more recently movements are being designed from the ground up to be visible. This is what Arnold & Son has done with many of their movements, including the caliber A&S5101 that exists inside of the Arnold & Son Nebula. One of the less frequently discussed things about Arnold & Son is that despite making less than 1000 watches per year, their new models mostly have new movements.

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

This is possible because they are part of the Swiss watch movement maker La Joux-Perret (yes, it is owned by the Citizen Group from Japan – but they don’t really make any decisions about how it is run, to be honest), which gives Arnold & Son the ability to do things most of its competitors simply can’t. At least not on this scale. What is really driving the innovation forward is probably Sebastien, who just has too many ideas to remain idle.

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Ignore the movement and dial, and the Arnold & Son Nebula is very much what we’ve come to expect from Arnold & Son dress-style watches. The Arnold & Son Nebula comes in either steel or 18k red gold, and the case is 41.5mm wide and 8.73mm thick – making it extremely wearable. It isn’t the smallest or the largest dress watch that Arnold & Son makes, but with its thinner case and classical proportions it certainly works well as a more formal timepiece.

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Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

In images, the three-dimensional depth of the dial is hard to convey. For me, that is really the magic of looking into the Arnold & Son Nebula – in addition to the visually very appealing symmetry of the movement architecture. Arnold & Son isn’t going to beat Patek Philippe, Chopard, or Vacheron Constantin these days when it comes to the level of movement finishing, but it is pretty good – especially for the money. More importantly, over the years I’ve actually seen it get better – for example, in how they do the beveled edges on the ends of movement bridges or wheels.

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The movement architecture and overall look, while technically new, is clearly based on the long-standing Arnold & Son TB88 watch collection. Starting with that watch, Arnold & Son began down a long road of bringing the bits and pieces of the movement that are normally hidden on the caseback to the foreground on the dial. This includes double mainspring barrels on the top, and a subsidiary seconds dial adjacent to the balance wheel and escapement below. If anything, the increased skeletonization and visual symmetry of the A&S5101 and the Arnold & Son Nebula overall represent an evolution and refinement of the TB88 collection.

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The rear of the Arnold & Son Nebula isn’t bad-looking either. Arnold & Son makes good use of contrasting finishes and colors to bring out a variety of details in the movement – which is the type of stuff that watch aficionados eat up. This is the visceral part of watchmaking that Arnold & Son understands pretty well. They may lack muscle in marketing and branding, but there is a lot to love at the brand where it arguably counts.

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son’s caliber A&S5101 manually wound movement operates at 3Hz (21,600bph) with 90 hours of power reserve between the two mainspring barrels. The most distinctive feature, of course, is the seven classical-style bridges that are mounted radially around the movement that hold most of the components together. As usual, legibility is maintained through properly sized hands and a minute/hour track along the chapter ring. The steel and gold versions of the Arnold & Son Nebula have slightly different dial finish colors as well.

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Arnold & Son Nebula Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Each of the two Arnold & Son Nebula watches are available on black or brown alligator straps. The steel model can also come with a gray, brown, or blue leather straps (the same as those you can see here when we looked at the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy watch). For those who liked the idea of the TB88 but felt that it wasn’t refined enough or too large, the Arnold & Son Nebula is a good choice. Price for the Arnold & Son Nebula reference 1NEAS.B01A.D134A in steel is $14,500 USD and the reference 1NEAR.S01A.D135A in 18k red gold is $25,750. arnoldandson.com

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Comments

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  • A_watches

    Wow I love everything about this watch.

  • IanE

    Nicely done skeletonisation – virtually no view of arm hairs to be seen! The other real plus with the A&S skeletonised watches is that there is no room for that annoying ‘Since 1764’ on the dial!
    I love the steel version, though I think blued-hands would work better with the colour scheme, even if legibility might be a bit worse.

  • ??????

    At MSRP of $14500 this must be the most bad-ass/price watch I’ve ever seen. If you want to invest in some watch to impress people (and especially yourself!) – this must be the most clever choice 🙂

  • MEddie90

    Not the biggest skeletonised fan but it seems well executed and an impressive show of design and craft. It’s nice to see skeletonised watches like this designed from the ground up to showcase the mechanics.

    Not my cup of tea but for the price its darn impressive when you compare it to some other contenders in the same price range. A&S continue to offer great design at a great price.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Oh, why was i not born rich instead of well hung. With my horology hat on this is a cracker of a watch. If you have the means to buy this i suspect it won’t be you’r only watch in you’r gold plated watch winder. As previously stated , i am not a great fan of the skeleton look but it is lovely to see the mechanics of the piece at the cost of legibility. The red gold hands are slightly more legible, but only just.

  • Wow. Even the keyless works are a thing of beauty.

  • David Williams

    Perhaps the greatest achievement here lies in the design of the pleasingly ‘uncrowded’ movement, which has great sight lines and views of the component parts in action. The near-symmetrical harmony between left and right works very well – the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

  • Yesterday: Skeleton watches? Eww! Gold Watches? Nope!
    Today: Wow! I love the gold / grey skeleton one!
    I enjoy every bit of this one. The layout, the mechanics, the finishes, even the price doesn’t bug me.

    • OmniWrench

      Very much in agreement. I normally have an irrational dislike of gold watches, especially gold/silver “two tone” stuff (perhaps post-traumatic stress disorder from the 80s), but this one just totally works for me. This might literally be the first gold watch I’ve ever liked. One of my favorite skeletons as well.

    • laup nomis

      This has made me not only like but positively want a skeleton watch. They usually just annoy me. And I agree, the rose gold is a smasher. But being boringly safe I’d probably go with the SS. Like I’ll ever have the money lying around to buy this.

  • frauss

    Wow! That’s a watch to fall in love with! As good as it gets.

  • Andre Braz

    Honest price !

  • SuperStrapper

    Lovely in steel, even with my general distaste for skeleonized watches. This one has enough to it to hide most of the wrist view despite being skeletonized. it does have a slight appearance of being a gathering of heavenly bodies, not sure why they named it after a corneal blight. interesting how the rear side of the movement is so stark and uninspired compared to the dial side. It is nice, and attractive, but just not at the same level.

    Mark, hack this photo and show me what the steel one would looks like with heat blued screws dial side. I feel like that would improve the look.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Better.

      • Always hard to capture the look of heat treated blued hands when photoshopping a watch, so don’t take this as a criticism Russ. The blue is a bit bright, but we get the idea, so thanks.

        • No worries. In all honesty it was done during a boring client conference call, so it was a half-assed attempt at best.

      • SuperStrapper

        Great! I was right, my eye loves this iteration. I’d like the hands as well if it were centre seconds instead of the seemingly necessary and usually disappointing subsidiary seconds.

        • Ah, but the seconds hand give a nice visual counter balance to the balance wheel, so I think it works in this case.

          • SuperStrapper

            Agreed, and I did not make note of it in my original post, accepting that the symmetry was an understandable tradeoff for having sub seconds (which I don’t prefer). But centre seconds and dual balance wheels would have been the best of both worlds, and tres cool.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Cleverly done but i am sure of the blue tipped screws. They stand out a bit against the grey background.

  • Love it. The steel option is officially on my list for 2017 and there are only a small number of competitors. Bags of character, a beautifully designed movement, and a brand that has done very well to shake off the bought-heritage associations that others get so caught up in. A&S are a brand to reckon with these days, and much of this is down to Mr Chaulmontet.

  • Richard Baptist

    love this. Simply an exercise in horological design done right. The price is also just right in terms of what you get. A watch to keep on the radar. Arnold and Son are doing a lot of great things right now. I also love their perpetual moon, time pyramid and the golden wheel watches. The brand is on a roll right now.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Quick ! , give something away, comments are dropping !

  • word-merchant

    This is the worst watch I have ever seen. Ugh.

    (It isn’t – it’s superb, and I’m not a fan of open dial/skeletalised watches – but I thought we needed another opening line here.)

    • Bill W

      Raymond? Is that you, Ray?

  • ??????

    I felt a desire to write a second comment on this watch 🙂 Arnold & Son are making today’s haute horlogerie revolution, shaking it from the current poor state. This is the first timepiece of such high watchmaking level and at reasonable price (for its level), that beats many 5-digit priced watches by its clever movement design, stunning level of finishing and geometry of the hands which makes a skeleton watch a surprisingly readable piece (look here, Hublot!). I love just every bit of it. Strongest candidate for my personal “watch of the 2016” award.

  • Marius

    To be honest, I don’t like this watch. In my opinion, the parts that make up this watch are great, but the overall result doesn’t really impress me. The skeletonization is nicely done; the finishing is very good (considering the price point); the case is very elegant; and the price is fair. Yet, the watch just doesn’t attract me at all. My main problem with most Arnold&Son watches is that by using a fairly similar skeletonized dial, they all look very similar. For me, they don’t have the character of a Lange or Audemars Piguet.

  • Beautiful watch. What’s with all the skeletonized pieces coming out of Switzerland lately? The next big thing? Part of a collective mentality that believes this is what the market wants? A unified belief that this is how to dig out of the hole?

    • Bill W

      If only there were a lower prices collective mentality in that country.

    • Hey, expensive watches are toys for boys and seeing the mechanical guts is satisfying to many. If a PP Calatrava is too subtle, then these sort of watches offer an alternative.

      • laup nomis

        Never thought of it like that. But i suppose it’s true. If an average Joe can like an invicta reserve, with its ninety three functions and gold braid and studs and screws,etc. The equivalent rich man is not going to be happy with, “what its only got three hands? Wheres the picture of the tiger, and why isnt everything covered in gold?”.

        • As they say, “the devil is in the details”. And a watch like this shows off those details superbly. Makes ya feel good about spending all of that money on a watch.

          • Makes you feel good anyway………… Sorry Mark, but my question related to a much longer term view.

        • Where there it is, and it is. Kind of…………..

      • egznyc

        I really like both types: the ones that are simple and refined and those that show you how it actually works inside! (This one is also quite refined, though obviously rather complex – and the complexity is breathtaking.)

    • egznyc

      Your writing is very humorous but a little subtle 😉

  • cg

    Proportions are near perfect for me as is the steel version with rose gold hands. Very nice.

    • SuperStrapper

      You made me do a double take. There is no version that is steel with gold hands. I see the photo you are referencing, it’s just an interesting reflection.

      • cg

        Hmmm well that fantasy version is the one I would buy! Steel case rose gold hands is a nicer contrast of metal… The steel on steel gets lost.

  • Sevenmack

    Simply gorgeous!

  • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Beautifully done and well appreciated.
    “bilateral symmetry”…yeah…that’s the ticket !

    (I am not a fan of ‘skelotnized’ watches – but this one just seems to be done right)

  • Much as I like the TB88, I always thought it had “sad robot eyes”, so this is much better visually while being mechanically similar. Loved trying these watches on at BaselWorld 2016.

    Bad photos but the one of the gold cased reference shows the depth Ariel spoke of. While out of my price range even in steel, these look like value for the money compared to a lot of clearly overpriced watches from other brands that have vastly less appeal to me.

    These are some of my favorite A&S pieces (and there are many from A&S in my fantasy grail list). Sort of amazes me that a guy with a doctorate in law is such a great movement and watch designer. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c05c63a9f7b77333a3db8db7215049c31caf5fc8e14f4c156c058edebd27d192.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5a48f53c0edaebd98213ed3c5b39dfe26d2a7b5446c119f0b7b03f5454c68b8b.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6528fa1ee5f5c36b923b77f9b298a14a98b50ae17c96f36d9d4d2cc9234137e6.jpg

  • thecouchguy

    Added to the grail list. Love A&S.

  • HectorAsuipe

    I’ll go for an A&S before an AP or PP, fer shure. This one is nice, but the crown shape and see-all-the-way-through does not work so much for me. A two-way mirror on the back glass would be more awesomer.

  • Giacomo T.

    This is gorgeous! Symmetrical, readable, reasonably priced (steel), beautiful finishing – what’s not to like? Godspeed Arnold & Son!

  • Cuppa Joe

    Watchmaker is purchased by a foreign entity, who then interferes and ruins the brand. How wonderful that this DIDN’T happen to Arnold & Son!

    Gorgeous watch. The symmetry, the styling, the price. Everything works! Hats off to A&S and Citizen.

  • egznyc

    Wow – this really looked well conceived from the moment I laid eye on it. Such a rare treat to see a beautiful movement – well balanced and yes, symmetrical in both axes – within a skeletonized dial.

  • Mikita

    How beatiful a watch can be. Poetry of fine mechanics, winding it must be a pleasing ritual. See all those perfectly finished details being brought to life, ticking, running.

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