In Chinese mythology the dragon is a divine creature signifying power and good fortune, and is the free spirit of the zodiac. As a tribute to the Year of the Dragon, which occurs once every twelve years in the Chinese calendar and begins on 23 January 2012, Arnold & Son has created a special edition of the HMS1 in rose gold featuring an exquisitely crafted gold appliqué of a traditional Chinese dragon on a black lacquered dial.
But this is no ordinary dragon. The figure on the dial was inspired by one of the dragons depicted on the Nine-Dragon Wall in Beihai Park, an imperial garden to the northwest of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Wall was completed in 1756, which perhaps significantly was just eight years before John Arnold opened his clockmaking workshop in London’s Strand in 1764. It just so happens that the number eight is of particular importance in many Asian cultures.
The exquisite gold dragon appliqué is created by a craftsman selected specially for his expertise in hand-engraving, a traditional art form that involves the use of hardened steel tools called burins in combination with other special tools. These create cuts, lines and texturing that build up entire images or, as in the case of the HMS1 Dragon Special Edition, a perfectly sculpted figure in solid 22-carat gold with a breathtaking richness of detail, which is then duplicated for the series. The three-dimensional nature of the dragon appliqué also provides a spectacular illusion of depth that contrasts starkly with the HMS1’s ultra-slim case.
The dragon is mounted on a black lacquered dial with powdered gold indices for the minutes. Ticking away beneath the face is a hand-wound movement, manufactured entirely in-house and just 2.7 millimetres in thickness. The movement features twin barrels, which, apart from generating an 90-hour power reserve also guarantee a more constant force and in turn a more constant rate and greater accuracy. All the plates and bridges in the movement are hand-chamfered and decorated – a further indication of the traditional craftsmanship upheld by Arnold & Son throughout the company’s long history.
Available in rose gold or in a second, more exclusive, version in rose gold with a diamond-set bezel, the HMS1 Dragon Limited Edition is housed in a 40-millimetre case, which is secured to the owner’s wrist with a black hand-stitched alligator strap and is water-resistant to 30 metres.