September 20, 2015
by Kenny Yeo
To mark the partnership of JeanRichard and Arsenal, JeanRichard released two new specially designed watches last year. There’s a simple time-and-date-only three-hand model and a limited edition chronograph. Today, we are going to take a look at the latter watch called the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope Limited Edition.
But before we dive into the watch, a bit of introduction is necessary. JeanRichard is a brand that may not be that well known for everyone, partly because it has – for the most part – been in the shadow of its more illustrious sibling, Girard-Perregaux. In 2011, Kering (previously known as PPR) purchased the Sowind Group, which had Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard as its watch brands. After the acquisition, Kering took steps to further build on both brands. While Girard-Perregaux continued its focus on the high-end market, JeanRichard was repositioned to appeal to a younger crowd; and so, while it has watches containing its in-house movements, the majority of its offerings use movements sourced from ETA and Sellita so as to keep prices competitive. In addition, it is also striking up partnerships in an attempt to reach a wider audience, and one of the most important partnerships it has established so far is with Arsenal Football Club.
Arsenal is one of the biggest clubs in British and European football – according to Forbes, Arsenal was the fifth most valuable club in the world in 2014. Its period of greatest success came arguably in the late 90s and early 2000s. In the 2003-2004 season, Arsenal finished the entire English Premier League season (38 games in total) undefeated. It was a feat never to be repeated and earned the team of 2003-2004 the nickname of “The Invincibles.” Though the club’s fortunes have faltered somewhat in recent years, they have showed glimpses of returning to their old form in recent years. A bright spot was that they successfully defended their FA Cup trophy in the last season, after having won it in the 2013-2014 season.
Considering Arsenal’s clout in the football space, it makes sense, then, for JeanRichard to be the “Global Partner” as well as the “Official Watch” for Arsenal. The partnership will allow JeanRichard to reach a large young global audience worldwide.
The thing with limited edition watches is that they can have an unfortunate tendency of coming off as rather tacky: a giant logo here or a large crest there, and the dial ends up looking all cluttered, disjointed, and a moving advertisement for the brands involved. Thankfully, the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope Limited Edition avoids being that. In fact, its association with Arsenal is kept discreet and the end result is a watch that only those in the know will appreciate.
The magic is all on the dial, and so the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope has the same cushion-shaped case as JeanRichard’s other Aeroscope watches. The case is exceedingly light to hold thanks to its grade 5 titanium construction – the bezel is also made out of the same titanium material. The case is 44mm wide, which is a good size for a sports chronograph, but it also has very short lugs that curve downwards steeply. At 12.8mm thick, the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope Limited Edition is actually pretty thin for a chronograph that sports an automatic modular caliber (more on the movement later), so thickness isn’t really an issue. This, combined with its short lugs, allows it to fit well on small wrists like mine.
The DLC coating is nicely and uniformly applied, and has a matte finish that really sucks up light and appears deep black in direct sunlight. This gives it a very bold contrast as the dial as well as the large engraved numerals on the tachymeter scale of the bezel are both in the bright red of Arsenal’s colors. The large pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock feels a little plasticky, but that’s because they are made out of carbon fiber composite. The pushers have red surrounds which really suit the overall look of the watch well. The large crown is also finished with DLC and has the initials of JeanRichard engraved into them. Incidentally, the crown does not screw down, but JeanRichard claims that the watch is water resistant to 100 meters.
It is hard to look at the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope and not be captivated by the dial. The dial is rendered in the same bright striking red of Arsenal F.C. and it also features a stamped honeycomb pattern that gives the dial a lot of texture. The three sub-dials are recessed and have circular guilloche, which adds depth and juxtaposes well against the honeycomb patterns on the dial. The date is shown in a cut-out in between four and five o’clock. The JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope also has a very prominent flange upon which the minute markers are placed.
The hour markers alternate between large arabic numerals and baton markers and are coated with a black luminescent material. Complementing these are large skeletonized hour and minute hands that are also coated with the same black luminescent material. Because of the contrast between black and red, this all means that the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope is highly legible. However, the lume is incredibly weak and hardly glows even exposed to bright sunlight for minutes. Compounding the problem is that because the hands and markers are black themselves and do not reflect any light whatsoever, the watch is almost impossible to read at night.
Fans of Arsenal, more affectionately known as the Gooners, will by now notice the cannon from Arsenal’s crest that now acts as a seconds hand. It’s a very subtle nod to JeanRichard’s collaboration with Arsenal, and I also think that this beats having a large Arsenal logo on the dial, as that seems a bit too obvious for me. Thanks to the animated nature of the seconds hand, the cannon is always turning, which makes it the highlight of the dial. Any football fan that spots this on your wrist will instantly know the significance of the cannon and your association with Arsenal F.C.
In all, the combination of all the different elements – the honeycomb pattern, recessed sub-dials with guilloche, deep flange, skeletonized hands, large markers, and most of all, the cannon seconds hand – converge to give the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope a lot of texture and depth, and makes the dial very interesting to look at.
Underneath, the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope is driven by a Sellita base movement outfitted with a chronograph module by Dubois Depraz. It beats at 4Hz and has a power reserve of around 42 hours, nothing extraordinary but definitely decent. As for timekeeping, I found it to run around 6 seconds fast per day, which is certainly good and just about within COSC specifications.
The JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope comes with a black rubber strap with a deployant clasp that has a matching DLC finish to complement the case. The deployant clasp is compact and easy to operate, but if there’s one thing I’m not really fond of about the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope, it is its rubber strap. The strap feels pretty stiff, but most of all, it feels sticky to the skin, especially if the weather is warm. Personally, I would swap the rubber strap out for something more comfortable, but making sure that the replacement strap is compatible with the supplied deployant clasp, or at least that it is also DLC finished so that it looks congruous with the case.
There’s a lot to like about the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope, and at this point, it should be a no surprise that this watch comes highly recommended to anyone who is a fan of the “Gunners.” With only 250 pieces ever made, exclusivity is guaranteed; and the subtle cannon running seconds hand ensures that your allegiance to the club is never in doubt. Amongst the throngs of limited edition watches with giant logos emblazoned on their dials or with over the top branding, the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope is a bit like a breath of fresh air.
If you are already sold on the looks of one of JeanRichard’s numerous Aeroscope watches – and there are many, many variants to choose from – then the JeanRichard Arsenal Aeroscope is definitely worth deliberation, especially when you consider that it is priced at around $6,800. This means that it only costs a couple hundred more than a comparable “regular” JeanRichard Aeroscope with a DLC case. So for a couple of hundred more, you not only get more exclusivity, you also get to show the world in a very sophisticated and understated way where your football allegiance lies. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Pity I’m not an Arsenal fan, then. jeanrichard.com
>Model: Arsenal Aeroscope Limited Edition
>Would reviewer personally wear it: No, but only because I’m a Chelsea fan.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Any watch lover who is a fan of Arsenal F.C.
>Best characteristic of watch: Subtle and elegant connection to Arsenal F.C..
>Worst characteristic of watch: Uncomfortable strap.