This year, to coincide with Geneva Watch Days 2023, Swiss brand Arnold & Son, known for its elegant dial-side theatrics, is releasing an updated version of its DSTB—Dial-Side True Beat. Arnold & Son is the high-horology, low-volume brand that exists within movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret (which itself exists under the larger Citizen umbrella). Despite the brand’s 250+ year history, be certain that this is where La Joux-Perret really shows off what it can do. What at first blush seems like a minor sizing down is, in fact, a significant revision. Previously only available in a 43.5mm case in red gold or steel, the brand has decided to size the DSTB down to 42mm, revamp the dial, and introduce a new movement. The result is two limited-edition DSTB 42s, one in red gold and one in platinum.
Arnold & Son has always designed its cases to allow the dials to do all the talking, and that’s true here. The design remains the same as the watches’ predecessors, with fully polished finishing, a round bezel, and a mid-case that curves in towards the wrist, which, along with the dramatically curved, welded lugs, may help the watch wear slightly smaller than its new 42mm diameter and 12.95mm thickness. The watches are offered in either 18k 5n red gold or platinum and feature domed sapphire crystals and pull-out crowns for just 30m of water resistance. Some may scoff at that shallow depth rating on any watch, but the reality is that no one who owns or even wears this watch is going to be inclined to get it near water. These should wear a good deal better than the jumbo 43.5mm models (which A&S refers to as 44mm, for some reason) and are equipped with blue alligator straps with pin buckle closures coordinated to the case.
Arnold & Son may be known for putting its mechanics on display, but it’s a different approach from brands like MB&F and perhaps more equivalent in aesthetics to what Chrisotpher Ward did with the Bel Canto. That is to say, while MB&F focuses on mind-boggling displays of chronometric extravagance, Arnold & Son remains firmly rooted in a consistently measured approach that allows it to maintain a certain refined sophistication and simple elegance across its collections. The Arnold & Son DSTB 42 is a great example of how the brand shows off without bragging, as it were.
The dials here—salmon PVD on the platinum, blue on the red gold—feature a sunburst finish that radiates from and draws attention to the main attraction: the true beat mechanism. Variously known as a deadbeat seconds or jump seconds, some of the earliest Arnold and Son timekeepers sported this mechanism, though perhaps not as beautifully displayed. Suspended by three polished and chamfered gold bridges, the mechanism ticks a single time per second, indicated by a heat-blued seconds hand. In lieu of the floating sapphire minute track in previous versions, the track is printed directly upon the dial. The brand has charmingly added an anchor-shaped counterbalance to the escapement, finished at the same level as the rest of the watch. The anchor is the brand’s logo and references John Arnold’s work providing marine chronometers to the Royal Navy.
The rest of the dial—you know, the part that tells time—is rendered at 4 o’clock in the form of a white opal dial with printed Roman numerals and heat-blued arrow hands. While the previous 43.5mm case allowed the dial to breathe, the 42mm appears to cramp things a bit, resulting in a sliver of the opal being encroached upon. Given Arnold & Son developed a new movement for this smaller version, it’s a wonder they didn’t move things around to avoid the intrusion.
The movements appear perhaps just as lovely as the dial. Arnold & Son redeveloped its previous deadbeat seconds movement into the new A&S6203. As no wristwatch movement has a natural frequency to allow for a deadbeat seconds, additional components are required to translate the 28,800 vph from four oscillations per second to one. The mechanics are made visible on the dial, but that’s only half the story of this movement. It offers a 55-hour power reserve with incredible finishing. Developed, machined, assembled, and adjusted in-house, the caliber features a striking sunburst Côtes de Genève striping that radiates from the center across all the plates, double snailing, perlage, heat-blued screws, and polished chamfers. The skeletonized oscillating weight is engraved and made of 22k gold.
This release may be a minor change to an existing model, but it also serves as a reminder of what a brand like Arnold & Son can accomplish, and how it can celebrate its own heritage without being heavy-handed about it. From its refined dial with the True Beat mechanics on display to the stunning movement, this watch will surely be an attractive option for those who can afford it. The Arnold & Son DSTB 42 is priced at CHF 42,600 in red gold and CHF 54,400 in platinum, limited to 88 and 38 pieces, respectively. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.