Given the dominance of Swiss watchmaking in modern times, it is difficult to imagine an age when another horological culture and tradition held sway in Europe. The late 18th century, however, was an age when English watchmaking reigned supreme. The country’s watchmakers developed an aesthetic entirely of their own, dictated partly by contemporary taste but also by their desire to roll back the boundaries of a field that combined art, tradition and technology like no other.
John Arnold and his son played an influential role in the directions taken by English watchmaking. They combined a finely developed aesthetic sense with an ability to find solutions to technological problems, crafting magnificent movements and designs with cutting-edge mechanical features that garnered several patents.
Today, Arnold & Son is proud to draw on and maintain that unique heritage. The models in the Royal Collection reflect many of the features that made the original company’s name. The TB88, for example, demonstrates Arnold & Son’s ongoing quest for state-of-the-art technology and clearly reflects the influence of English design. With its True Beat (TB) complication and the symmetrical arrangement of twin barrels, balance wheel and seconds display, it is beautifully balanced and unites many of the technical and aesthetic qualities associated with the brand’s heritage.
The other members of the Royal Collection are just as impressive. The deceptively simple lines of the HMS1, for example, house an ultra-slim hand-wound movement with twin barrels that generate an 80-hour power reserve. HMS Lady retains the same elegant proportions as the larger version because the movement is so precisely scaled down. Another member of the HMS Family, the HMS1 Dragon, a fabulous special edition featuring a beautifully sculpted three-dimensional 22-carat dragon figure, showcases the brand’s ability to replicate Arnold & Son’s prowess in the decorative arts.
Other Royal Collection models, like the TE8 — another example of trailblazing technology — are fitted with complications such as a tourbillon, or as in the case of the Hornet World Timer, a wealth of complex indications including equation of time and true solar time, together with big date and multiple time zone displays. The True Moon watches have uniquely realistic perpetual moon phase displays, while the Hornet James Cook Set features hand-painted miniatures of major events in the explorer’s life. Common to them all, however, is traditional craftsmanship, as evidenced by the hand-finished and embellished movements, combined with outstanding technical features and the opulent design of the Royal Collection.