I’m aware that I’m assuming a lot. After all, you are on a website dedicated to wristwatches, but most watch geeks might struggle with the name. “Arnold… Arnold… isn’t he an ambassador for Baume & Mercier? No, is he the new watchmaker at Mont Blanc?”, or something like that. This is a crying shame as John Arnold was as influential as A.L. Breguet to the world of watchmaking. His achievements are not touted by the majority of Swiss watch historians who prefer to focus on their own countrymen’s achievements, at the expense of foreign watchmakers like Arnold (and Graham, Tompion, etc). So here’s a quick list of Arnold’s accomplishments: He was the first watchmaker to use the term chronometer as we know it today and he invented the overcoil balance spring and the detached escapement. When one of his chronometers was tested at The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, it had an error of just 2 minutes and 32.2 seconds over 13 months. That’s almost what modern COSC rated chronometers have to be accurate to over a month.
Arnold died in 1799 but his legacy of watchmaking was revived in 1995 by The British Masters brand. This was a Swiss company who breathed life into old watchmakers names, including Graham 1695 and the modern Arnold & Son. Arnold & Son focus on haute horlogerie whose watch movements have been entirely in-house since 2010. These are no ordinary in-house movements either. These are true-beat retrogrades, ultra-thin tourbillons and, in the case the Time Pyramid, double barrel skeleton movements. For a brand that is so young (and old at the same time), this is a huge achievement that rivals anything from older (but also younger ) brands.
The Time Pyramid is Arnold & Son’s entry into the Only Watch Charity Auction and is one of the most interesting pieces available.
The 44.6mm, stainless steel case has been DLC treated to have a black finish. This large case circles a domed sapphire crystal that showcases the skeleton movement. Skeleton movements and dials have fascinated and perplexed me in equal measure for many years now. Technically speaking, they are an amazing achievement. The amount of work needed to make a functional caliber that also is aesthetically pleasing is vast and not lost on me, but I’ve yet to find a skeleton watch I truly love. Most seem to fail at the intended purpose of a watch, to tell time, as the hands and hour markers get lost amidst the movement and crystal. It’s the anti-thesis of the purpose-built tool watches of the 1950s and 1960s that I love so much. But like many other Only Watch watches, the Time Pyramid shows that functionality doesn’t always have to be at the forefront of a watchmakers mind. Rather than use the entire space, Arnold & Son have placed the dial in a small subsection of the watch and have used a high contrast red for the hands and hour markers. This red not only is eye-catching, but it is the color of the Principality of Monaco, whose Prince is a Patron of Only Watch.
The Caliber A&S1615 has hand-chamfered bridges, that have also been black DLC coated, with two power reserve gauges visible on the dial. These two gauges are linked to the two barrels that power the watch. The first barrel transfers energy into the second barrel as needed, so throughout the day, you’ll see the power reserve of the first gauge go down whilst the second goes up. This arrangement of barrels allows for a more constant torque to the gear train to be delivered, allowing for a more accurate watch. The Time Pyramid has its gear train arranged linearly, running from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock where the two barrels sit on either side to create the titular pyramid shape. This is an excellent skeleton design as the empty space at the top left and right are used for the power reserve and are uncluttered by the movement beneath.
Once set, the precision should hold for 122 years, and an easy adjustment will ensure it to get another 122 years. The hand-wound movement is an Arnold & Son manufacture A&S1512 that defeats at 21,600 bph using a 90-hour power reserve. The movement itself is 5.35mm thick and features 27 stones, while the instance is rated for 30 meters of water resistance. As if the case back were not beautiful enough, the C?tes de Genève revealed during the movement is just lovely.The Arnold & Son HM Double Hemisphere Perpetual Moon includes a black or brownish hand-stitched alligator strap and is sure to grab the attention of many a watch buff. When trying to solve a problem, the start is always a fantastic place to start. That is precisely the process followed closely by Arnold & Son in their attempt to eliminate isochronal mistake from among the latest bits, the Arnold & Son Constant Force Tourbillon. Arnold & Son’s heritage is present in the heritage of John Arnold and his son, two of the most important watchmakers to come from England. Having packed his son off to learn in the knee of the maestro, Arnold turned his attentions to the problem of the times: the quest for chronometric accuracy at sea.
It may be world’s (and several centuries) apart from the watches of the original John Arnold, but the Time Pyramid is a watch worthy of his legacy.