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Wandering Hours: Arnold & Son Unveils Updated Golden Wheel

Building on the success of last year’s Golden Wheel, Arnold & Son is releasing a new version of its wandering hours and true beats seconds watch. This provides iW the perfect time to take a look at the historical context of the wandering hours.

Arnold & Son Golden Wheel

Beginnings

Joseph Windmills Wandering-Hour Pocket Watch, Credit: British Museum

The wandering hour clock rose to popularity in the 17th century and was originally made for the papacy and monarchy. In England, Joseph Windmills produced a wandering-hour pocket watch that dates from 1700. With the royal coat of arms of William III, the watch was made for and probably commissioned by the King. The silver dial is very decorative with a brass edge and an engraved border. The eye is drawn to the design instead of the time, but the minutes are numbered zero to 60 at the upper arch, while the quarter is around the inside. Two windows in the hour disk show the hours one to twelve as the dial rotates. The watch features a verge escapement and measures in at a hefty 54.6 for the outer case and 48mm for the inner case. Arnold & Son’s newest watch measures in at 44-millimeter as a comparison.

20th Century

Urwerk 101

Watchmakers that have revisited the wandering hours besides Arnold & Son include Urwerk, Audemars Piguet and Breguet. Urwerk is a relatively young watchmaker, beginning in 1995, while Breguet and Audemars Piguet enjoy a longer history, beginning in 1775 and 1875 respectively. In the 1990s, Urwerk updated the complication with designs inspired by the Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon. The original 101 watches appeared to be futuristic with a minimalist aesthetic. Taking the space theme further, the line was augmented with the 103 series that featured exposed hours.

Arnold & Son Golden Wheel

Arnold & Son Golden Wheel

The Arnold & Son Golden Wheel was initially launched at Baselworld 2015. This new version features sapphire disks with black figures, a redesigned outer ring and a black ADLC-treated dial plate to further increase contrast and thus readability.

What draws people to this watch is the wandering hour complication. The mother-of-pearl arc displays the current hour, as the sapphire disks with the black hour numerals float over the white arc, creating a fantastic visual display. This also makes it easier to tell the actual time, a problem with the historic pocket watches.

The design is kept simple. The movement powering this timepiece, the self-winding A&S6018, took about three years of research and development. The watch is a limited edition of 125 timepieces.

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