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Arnold & Son - Seeing double with Arnold & Son

Arnold & Son Seeing double with Arnold & Son

Two watches, each with two time zones – which means... how many cities on the dial?

Arnold & Son – a case of schizophrenia? Not exactly. But the La Chaux-de-Fonds watchmaker is definitely seeing double. Watches, movements, time zones, escapements... You only have to look at the latest DTE and DBG Skeleton. The acronyms are not there to designate the latest Aston Martins – they provide a clear and simple description of the complications contained within the case. DTE stands for Double Tourbillon Escapement and DBG is Double Balance GMT. It’s easy to see what they have in common: each is equipped with two discrete escapements. 

At first glance, there’s no obvious technical connection between having two escapements and showing two time zones. The vast majority of GMT, WorldTimer and Dual Time watches (take a look at our dedicated article if you’re not too clear on the difference) work using a single movement with a single escapement. Arnold & Son is pursuing a different goal. Why are there two escapements in this GMT watch? 

Seeing double with Arnold & Son

DBG Squelette © Arnold & Son

Art for art’s sake

One response would be – why not? Arnold & Son is a niche manufacturer targeting discerning collectors, for whom the idea of art for art’s sake still carries some meaning. For Arnold & Son, the meaning is symmetry. The manufacture has an obsessive fascination with this principle: the Time Pyramid, Globetrotter, UTTE and even the Nebula are the best examples.

A family affair

Digging deeper, there’s a historic impetus: precision. The history of Arnold & Son goes hand in hand with that of the Marine Chronometer. At its peak, in the 18th century, the marine chronometer represented the pinnacle of precision, and it continues to command great respect among collectors and in the “watchmaking unconscious”. Back then, precision still had a meaning, because it helped to guide ships to their destination. By way of tribute to the company’s founder, John Arnold (1736 – 1799), Arnold & Son has always approached the GMT complication with two escapements, as a reminder of the two types of measurement – horological and astronomical – used on board the English frigates.

DTE – fraternal twins

Seeing double with Arnold & Son

DTE © Arnold & Son

The DTE model combines a Dual Time with two tourbillons. Within the A&S8513 calibre they are connected to a single engine, and two barrels supply a 90-hour power reserve. The barrels drive two different gear trains, each leading to its own tourbillon. They supply the hour and minutes indication, they are independent of each other, and guarantee an exceptional level of chronometry.

Seeing double with Arnold & Son

Calibre A&S8513 de la DTE © Arnold & Son

DBG, doubling up

The DBG Skeleton is technically different. It uses two traditional regulating organs rather than tourbillons. In fact, the Calibre A&S1309 employs two totally independent kinetic chains: each time zone has its own barrel, gear train, escapement and sprung balance. These independent movements are arranged side by side on the same baseplate. They share a central seconds hand and a day/night indicator. 

Seeing double with Arnold & Son

Calibre A&S1309 de la DBG Squelette © Arnold & Son

A day/night indication with two hands is very rare, and for good reason: which hand goes with which movement? Arnold & Son has found a simple and aesthetically coherent answer: each hand looks like its own movement. Simply put, if the left-hand movement has openworked hands, the corresponding day/night indicator also has an openworked hand. The right-hand movement has solid hands, so the indicator is also solid. 

And great precision doesn’t hurt

These two pieces offer one final subtlety. While most GMT watches show two different hours and a single minute, the DTE and DBG Skeleton each have their own autonomous minute hand. The local time hand can be adjusted to the nearest minute. The home time hand follows suit, but it can also be adjusted separately, in quarter-hour jumps, which makes it easy to accommodate unconventional time zones such as India (UTC +5:30) or Nepal (UTC +5:45).

 

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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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