Published by Pierre-Paul Godts
Arnold & Son’s – TE8 Métiers d’Art I
TE8 Métiers d’Art I
Timeless elegance, handcraft and innovative technology.
True to its English watchmaking and handcraft heritage, Arnold & Son unveils the TE8 Métiers d’Art I, limited to only eight exclusive timepieces. 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.
Exclusive Arnold & Son mechanical movement A&S8000, hand-wound, hand-engraved barrel bridge and back of the main plate, 18-carat rose gold case, diameter 44 mm
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.
John Arnold and A.-L. Breguet, silver cased chronometer with tourbillon and spring-detent escapement,
London, England, 1774 and Paris, France, 1808
© The Trustees of the 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 as well.
Exclusive Arnold & Son mechanical movement A&S8000, hand-wound, hand-engraved barrel bridge
and back of the main plate
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 44 mm in diameter in its classically elegant 18-carat rose gold case. It will be produced in a limited edition of only 8 timepieces, with each case individually hand-numbered by our master engraver.
Exclusive Arnold & Son mechanical tourbillon movement, hand-wound, 19 jewels, diameter 32.6 mm, thickness 6.25 mm, power reserve 80 h, 21’600 vibrations/h
Functions: hours, minutes, tourbillon
Movement decoration: hand-engraved nickel silver movement, rhodium treated bridges and NAC grey treated main plate with Haute Horlogerie finishing: manually chamfered bridges with polished edges, hand-engraved, fine circular graining, screwed gold chatons, mirror-polished tourbillon cage and bridge, screws with bevelled and mirror-polished heads
Dial: black open dial
Case: hand-numbered, 18-carat rose gold, diameter 44 mm, cambered sapphire with anti-reflective coating on both sides, case back see-through sapphire, water-resistant to 30 m
Strap: hand-stitched black or brown alligator leather
Limited edition: 8 timepieces
At 12 o’clock is a day/night indicator for both GMT time and home time, using fitting skeletonized and stuffed hands to tell them apart. The bottom half of this index is striped, which aids the visual representation of this “nighttime” portion of this disk. I do want the Arnold & Son emblem was found elsewhere however, as its place interrupting the moments monitor at 12 o’clock can make exact time-setting difficult. Another niggling issue I found was that the second hand counterweight closely emulates the appearance of the house time hands, which can sometimes cause a moment of confusion once you glance down and see three palms pointing at the dial. In an perfect world, I would have loved to observe that the minute hands on each dial stretched only a bit further to correctly get to the minute trail, and the hour palms shortened a tad to not overlap the hour markers, but this is a little aesthetic qualm that doesn’t impact utility.On the reverse side of this Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton, the bottom plate of this manufacture caliber A&S1309 is shown. The movement is made of nickel silver (also known as German silver or Maillechort, an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc) that was rhodium-plated and embellished with C?tes de Genève. The wheels are satin-finished and provide a contrasting three dimensional feel to the base plate, and between the chamfered edges of these bridges, the golden gear train can be seen. The motion is hand wound obviously, which contributes to its thinness in a mere 3.9mm. It includes 42 stones and provides a 40 hour power reserve while the twin accounts oscillate at 21,600vph, or 3Hz. This is undoubtedly a highly elegant movement, but in contrast to the depth of detail given by this skeletonized dial, the reverse side of this movement almost feels like a letdown.