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By Chris | July 19 2013
Inspired by the pocket watches made during the earlier part of John Arnold’s life for King George III and the royal court, the latest addition to the Arnold & Son Royal Collection is an eloquent expression of elegance and sophistication in the inimitable English style and demonstrates the brand’s traditional prowess in the classical decorative arts.
The tourbillon, one of the most elegant complications in the world of horology, has played a crucial role in Arnold & Son’s history. An exceptional watchmaker, John Arnold was an active participant in one of the most extraordinary partnerships in the world of innovative horology. Indeed, both he and A.-L. Breguet worked closely, sharing both their knowledge and passion.
Evidence of their partnership is A.-L. Breguet’s first ever tourbillon mounted in John Arnold’s No. 11 movement, a watch that can be found today in London’s British Museum.
What sets Arnold & Son’s new Tourbillon TE8 esthetically and technically apart is its unique
“English” design: the barrel bridge has a ¾ wave-shape, the tourbillon and motion-work bridges are triangular, and even the wheels are shaped with a distinctive three-spoke design. This same design cue can also be found on the tourbillon cage and the barrel bridge.
When compared to more conventional tourbillons found today, the TE8 model is said to be “inverted” – that is to say most technical elements and visually interesting features are shown on the dial side, when those would normally be hidden on the reverse of the dial.
Other typically English technical idiosyncrasies will seduce even the most demanding watch connoisseurs. Take, for instance, the symmetrical layout of the movement; to achieve such a feat requires overcoming a number of technical challenges. Thus, the barrel spring and the tourbillon cage are centered along the watch’s longitudinal axis.
When examining the winding system and the gear train, one notes the traditional construction, which uses wheels with long and narrow spokes known as wolf’s teeth, used to improve the smoothness of the overall movement.
Each single TE8 Métiers d’Art I is hand-engraved by Arnold & Son’s own master engraver, who went as far as to create a new engraving pattern solely for this special edition. This new pattern is composed of complex geometrical elements arising from the center of the movement.
The engraving of this masterpiece is particularly painstaking as the movement is made of German Silver and not usual brass. Due to the hardness of German Silver, the engraver must pay great attention not to slip off and constantly sharpen his tools, as their wear and tear is very high.
Hand-engraving is a traditional art form that involves the use of hardened steel tools, called burins, in combination with other special tools. These create cuts, lines and texturing that build up entire images or, as in the case of the TE8 Métiers d’Art I, a beautiful hand-engraved pattern on the barrel bridge and on the back of the main plate, bringing a breathtaking richness of detail to an already exceptional tourbillion timepiece.
It goes without saying that every finishing touch on this striking piece has been done by hand by Arnold & Son’s master watchmakers, thus fulfilling the highest standards of Haute Horlogerie finish and bringing more brilliance and depth to each element of the movement.
This unique timepiece measures 44mm in diameter in its classically elegant 18-carat rose gold case. It will be produced in a limited edition of only eight timepieces, with each case individually hand-numbered by our master engraver.