Skeleton clocks and watches have been popular for centuries. The painstaking process of skeletonization involves reducing the framework – the plates, bridges and bars, as well as the dial – and the mechanical parts – mainly the wheel train – to a minimum by removing metal that is not a functional or structural requirement. The result is an unimpeded view of the watch’s inner workings and its many parts. In the case of DBG Skeleton, it reveals exquisite artistic detail, from the blued screws to the Côtes de Genève stripes and satin finish running across the bridges and edges of the dial.
A masterpiece of perfect symmetry, the DBG Skeleton features two separate time displays, each driven by its own barrel and gear train with its own escapement and balance, now entirely visible thanks to its openworked execution. This highly unusual technical specification permits the two displays to be set independently of each other. Although it is a standard feature of watches displaying two or more time zones for the hour hands to be set to different times, being able to set the minute hand as well opens up other possibilities.
It means, for instance, that the display can be set to show the precise time in zones that differ from Greenwich Mean Time by a fraction of an hour, such as a quarter or a half. In addition, a subdial at 12 o’clock shows the equation of the two time zones on a 24-hour basis. This enables the wearer to see the time difference between the two zones and also to ascertain whether it is day or night in the second zone. Both time zones share a common permanent seconds in the shape of the long slender hand emanating from the centre of the dial.
Watches with a double barrel and escapement have a tradition going back many years in horology but are rarely found today. Historically referred to as a “captain’s watch”, the principle is ideally suited to the Arnold & Son’s instrument line because a separate barrel/gear train and balance/escapement enable the watch to house different complications without having one influencing the accuracy of the other by draining its energy. It is therefore perfectly adapted to be used for a second time zone, as in the DBG Skeleton.
No less impressive than the watch’s technical features is its aesthetic appeal, and in particular its symmetry, which is largely determined by the positioning of the elements in the dual movement, visible from both sides of the watch. The entire movement was designed so as to enhance its visual appeal when skeletonized.
The view from the back reveals a pleasingly balanced arrangement of open bridges, barrels and gear trains. From the front, and highlighted against a backdrop of Côtes de Genève stripes on the lower half of the dial, are two triple-armed balances secured in position by the two balance cocks, which face one another and fuse together to create a circle. The open dials featuring Arabic numerals for one time zone and Roman numerals for the other are made of “smoked” metal-treated sapphire crystals, allowing both transparency as well as legibility. Completing the overall sense of balance are the two crowns, one in the conventional position at 3 o’clock, the other at 9. The two mainsprings are both wound using the crown on the right. However, the time in each of the two selected time zones is set using its own crown, which ensures that neither of the zones is moved or changed inadvertently. The time zone on the left is set using the crown at 9 o’clock and the time zone on the right by the crown at 3 o’clock.
The DBG Skeleton is available in a Limited Edition of 30 timepieces.