The new Instrument Collection from Arnold & Son was inspired by the timepieces produced during the second part of John Arnold’s life and later, following his death, by his son, John Roger. This was a period when the Arnolds dedicated themselves exclusively to the quest for absolute precision and a solution to the problem of determining longitude accurately and reliably on the high seas. So successful were they, and of such high quality their products, that within the space of a few years they had established themselves as suppliers of choice to the Royal Navy and to some of the most distinguished mariners and explorers of their day.
During this era, timepieces played a crucial role as aids to navigation and were, effectively, technical and scientific “instruments”. John Arnold and his son decided to make them as rugged and reliable as possible, and in sufficient quantities to equip the Navy’s extensive fleet. Ultimately, they were to prove pivotal to the nation’s marine dominance and helped ensure that Britannia really did rule the waves.
The new Instrument Collection draws on several original timepieces made by John Roger Arnold. The first two of these, manufactured at around the time of his father’s death, were known as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and featured a “Z” balance, mean and sidereal time displays, and an additional small seconds at 6 o’clock. Another important timepiece, produced in 1855 with Charles Frodsham, was a very unusual chronometer with hours and minutes displaying mean time in a subsidiary dial on the left, a symmetrical subdial on the right with a power reserve indication, and a central seconds with an additional chronograph split-seconds.
Elements of this arrangement are taken up in the Instrument Collection, the design of which clearly shows the influence of the pocket watches and marine chronometers developed and crafted by John Arnold and his son. Here, too, the display for solar time is of secondary importance and positioned off-centre. This allows the complication to take centre stage and dominate the dial, making it much more legible. The first model in the new line, the TBR, features a double complication in the form of a True Beat seconds and a retrograde date.
The other stylistic features that define the new timepieces are pure, timeless lines and a discreet – almost austere – case. Viewed from the side, the housing is stepped and tapers from top to bottom, the widest section accommodating the extra-large glass and dial with the lower part narrowing to fit snugly on the wrist.
Like the Royal Collection, the new Instrument Collection from Arnold & Son is a family of elegant, exquisitely handcrafted and finished timepieces: the sublime expression of a long and proud tradition.