There was a time when the British not only ruled large parts of the world, but also large parts of the watch world as well. There is some connection between the two, because at one point in time, anyone who wanted to rule the world, needed a lot of ships. Navigating these ships correctly was one of the key aspects, and without an orbiting array of global positioning satellites, one had to turn to other devices.
It came to pass then that while a ship’s latitude was relatively easy to determine, it was longitude that would pose the bigger challenge. The only way to solve this problem was to have an accurate timekeeper, or more precisely a chronometer, that would make the calculation of longitude possible. Realizing that nothing is as embarrassing as having an enormous and powerful fleet that cannot be deployed with vigor because they have trouble calculating their own position, the British Parliament issued an array of contests and grants to obtain the most precise chronometers. Here enters John Arnold, watchmaker extraordinaire, and the man that would come to scoop up many of these grants with his outstanding technicaldesigns that resulted in very precise marine chronometers.
Arnold’s reputation also earned him the respect of fellow watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet. Not only did both gentlemen exchange sons, only for a while, to learn the tricks of the trade serving as an apprentice for the other, but they also enjoyed a close working relationship. Evidence of this can be found in the British Museum in London, where John Arnold’s movement No.11 is fitted with a tourbillon made by Abraham-Louis Breguet himself.
Today Arnold’s legacy lives on in the brand that bears his name; Arnold & Son. And his strong connection with the tourbillon has recently been renewed with the introduction of the TES Tourbillon. Unfortunately a lot has changed in the centuries between when John Arnold was discussing the first tourbillons with Breguet and today. Every self respecting watch brand now has a tourbillon in its collection, some even have a whole collection of tourbillon’s, while others even put a collection of tourbillons in a single movement! This does of course not mean that the popularity of the tourbillon as a complication has lost its strength, on the contrary, but it does mean that it has lost some of its exclusivity. An alarming situation for sure, yet not for Arnold & Son. By crafting a tourbillon in a traditional British style, they have created a watch that stands apart from the crowd. With the last centuries witnessing a slow recess of British world domination, a similar fate would also be encountered by its watch industry. Today a tourbillon crafted in a traditional, British style is hard to come by. One must have the deep pockets to either pursue an ultra rare George Daniel’s tourbillon, or ensure a prominent place on Roger Smith’s waiting list.
The first thing that one notices when examining the TES Tourbillon is the technical approach of the design yet with a vintage touch. Just as Ulysse Nardin did with the Royal Blue Tourbillon, so does Arnold & Son also do with the application of a transparent bridge on the front side of the movement, to show off as much as possible. With the TES Tourbillon this all works so well because of the stunning guiloche pattern on the mainplate, which is featured in a gunmetal grey that pleasantly contrasts with the red gold case of the watch. The same color is also in the additional bridges, which are bolted to the mainplate, which gives that sense of robust elegance that British watches are known for. It als results with the TES Tourbillon in a watch that has something to show for from the front, as well as the back side. Quite an accomplishment since the TES Tourbillon is one of the “inverted” kind, where the majority of the movement is being shown on the front side. Yet the open worked main barrel and tourbillon, as well as the partial gear train, are more than enough to also make the back of this watch bathe in visual splendor.
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics