Surely, there are many watch manufacturers in Switzerland, and quite a bit at La Chaux de Fonds, town known for its high number of watch factories. This week I visited my favorite brand of traditional watchmaking, Arnold & Son. Now some people might not have heard of it and suggest it’s a newly established company; however I found out that there’s a very rich history behind it. It dates back to 1736 when John Arnold, son of a watchmaker was born. Later on he was creating watches for the King George III himself and exchanged his experience with Abraham-Louis Breguet, a figure most of you would know by he brand ‘Breguet’.
Today’s Arnold & Son has kept all the traditions of their ancestor J. Arnold in terms of fine watchmaking, have developed them to become something even more beautiful and added a contemporary touch to the watches.
So upon my arrival to the factory I already knew a bit about the brand, but still had little idea of what the manufacturing is like. A&S’s Mechanical Director Sebastien (who I’ve previously met at Baselworld 2013) along with their fantastic Head of Design Aude showed me pretty much everything around the factory, and even though I still didn’t get many details about the process (as I’m not very bright when it comes to production) it was a real joy watching all the big machines work and the talented watchmakers detail, engrave and construct the pieces.
Most of all I was amazed by how many processes, tests, and steps one watch has to pass in order to be considered a working timepiece by the official standards, as well as how patient and precise the horologists have to be to not mess up the watch!
When we were done with the manufacturing part we got to see the actual models, that Aude prepared for us. Arnold and Son’s watches currently are separated into 2 collections: Royal and Instrumental, and even though to me all their watches seem to have that Royal feel I realized there are some differences in the way Royal and Instrumental collections are made, with the dial and finishings mainly.
The day was surprisingly (as I was told) sunny and it wasn’t snowing (which is a rare thing at La Chaux de Fonds!) so of course we could not resist taking it all outside :) Each watch has opened up to me in a different way, and my most favorite remained the TB88 and the DBG/S models.
Another thing I found out is that if you change a strap for a smaller one it fits a lady’s wrist very well, and Aude was nice enough to model a couple of pieces to show that to you. Of course, there are special ladies watches from Arnold & Son, but in case diamonds are not your best friends you can easily take any HMS1 and customize it for your wrist!
As well as pieces from the last collection I got to see this years novelties, such as the Time Pyramid, which took it’s idea from their skeletonized clock (shown below) and at least to me reinvented the opened dial for me. What is really cool is not just the fact that the watch has over 90 hours of power reserve but the amazing symmetry (that you can also see in the DBG model, but less visibly).
Before leaving the factory I also got to see the amazing TE8 tourbillon from the Royal collection, a piece that is by all means Royal! One look at it is enough to understand it’s a perfectly crafted and exclusive watch. On top of that what surprised me is the price list for the models of A&S, and I made myself a promise that next year I will not even think about getting any other watch than Arnold and Son (and for now I’m thinking TB88 or the DBG, as they both are stunning pieces to me).
I hope you’ve enjoyed the article and photos as much as I enjoyed the factory visit and if you have any questions about some specific models, prices or if you just want to state how great the watches are leave you remarks in the comments and I will answer them IN A FLASH OF A SECOND! Also tell me where would you like me to go next or what watches I should take a look at. And be sure to tune in on Wednesday to read about my eventful 2-day holiday in Spain :)