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Arnold & Son  - Nebula : a confident blend of tech and traditional

Arnold & Son Nebula : a confident blend of tech and traditional

Anyone without the requisite budget for assembling a collection that would satisfy their every desire need look no further than this spectacular skeleton watch.

The Nebula is one of those rare watches that ticks almost every box. It distils in a single object exactly what many watch lovers are looking for – the complete package, in other words. It’s a watch for those who are looking for a particular aesthetic, technical performance, rarity, edginess and refined finishes, and don’t want to pay the kind of impossible prices that the high-end brands so effortlessly command. It’s for those who want something classic and wearable, with reasonable dimensions, but without settling for something commonplace, banal or predictable.

Nebula : a confident blend of tech and traditional

Nebula in steel, on the wrist © David Chokron/WorldTempus

These are the people who should take a closer look at Arnold & Son. On the one hand, the Nebula is the product of traditional craftsmanship. The case is far more sophisticated than a simple glance might suggest. It has different levels, a dished back, and screwed, gently arched lugs. The crown is broad and flat, and the slender tiered bezel provides maximum visibility for the dial. There’s not much to say about the dial, however, because there isn’t one – all that remains is a discreet chapter ring. The A&S5101 calibre occupies almost the entire area; it’s the star of the show, a design element in its own right; it dominates the watch and gives it its identity. Its skeletonisation, build, construction and the level of detail visible are very ‘tech’. It’s a joy to look at.

Nebula : synthèse tech et traditionnelle

The A&S5101 calibre of the Nebula, from the front © Arnold & Son

As always, Arnold & Son’s style is based on visual symmetry around more than one axis. The Nebula has seven visible bridges, all of which are openworked. The same goes for the mainplate, which is made up of interwoven arcs with numerous cavities. This is unmistakeably a skeleton movement, and a very open one at that. The two barrels supply a generous power reserve of 90 hours, another unusual feature. All the bridges, the barrels, gears, and the entire visible surface of the movement are satin-brushed on both sides, which highlights the polished angles and the teeth of every wheel, which are equally meticulously polished. Looking at all these components, it’s clear that Arnold & Son has moved many of the parts normally found on the back of the watch over to the dial side. This reversal maximises the view on the wrist and removes a lot of the reason for looking at the back of the calibre. There’s no longer any need to take your watch off to enjoy it.

Nebula : synthèse tech et traditionnelle

The A&S5101 calibre of the Nebula, back view © Arnold & Son

Lovers of fine mechanics will take away two more details. The first is that the manual winding mechanism, which with its sliding pinion and spring is never elegant, has been relegated to the back. The second is the ratchet spring, which stops the barrel from unwinding. Arnold & Son can be relied upon to eschew the banal, and here we have a beautiful long curved blade, screwed to the edge of the baseplate which, in another inversion, can be seen on the dial side.

Nebula : synthèse tech et traditionnelle

Nebula 38 in rose gold, with diamonds © David Chokron/WorldTempus

With its appeal both aesthetic and technical, its power reserve, skeletonisation, finishes, symmetry and rarity, and its confident but unostentatious deployment of watchmaking skills, this watch really does have a lot going for it. It’s available in steel and gold with a diameter of 41.5 mm, and in gold, with optional diamond setting, in the smaller 38 mm diameter. We look forward to seeing a 38 mm version in steel, which would hit the bull’s eye with collectors who prefer smaller sizes.


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Named after John Arnold, the English watchmaker of the 18th century renowned for his ingenuity and work on marine chronometers, Arnold & Son perpetuates today his legacy, exploring contemporary ways to interpret traditional watch craftsmanship.

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