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Arnold & Son

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By Gary Girdvainis

I think it was just after the 2008 crash that the calls started coming in.

Complete strangers were calling our offices and inquiring about watches as potential instruments for investment. From their perspective it seemed to make sense. Fine timepieces have perpetual and intrinsic value, are liquid and easy to convert to cash and small enough to secret away in a bank deposit box or home safe. Some will even appreciate over time.

Bernhard Lederer’s stunning Central Impulse Chronometer.

To these speculators and investors, the watch was simply a widget and could be anything (think NFTs), a device in which to insert capital and to be added to the other elements of a portfolio.

This cold, calculating valuation of wristwatches has gained momentum over the last decade-plus and is fueling rampant and runaway pricing on several preferred models. Some of which have seen values soar to ten, fifteen or even twenty times the original retail price.

The Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti in a rose gold case.

This explosive surge has been brought on by a kind of perfect storm. First-off it could not happen without the internet. In the pre-internet era values would still climb on preferred pieces, but the forces pushing the growth were operating at a statelier pace. Watches would see price growth at auction, or via secondary sales at retail shops. The growth was not as immediately visible and volatile as the current state of viral information pathways.

The RGM Model 222-RR is a modern wristwatch with a vintage heart, featuring a Hamilton pocket watch movement and a ‘grand feu’ enamel dial.

Another factor is the fear of missing out. Buyers (note I did not say collectors) want to hop on board before the train leaves the station and are fueling the fires of desire and driving costs through the roof.

Forgive me if I feel that buying a watch purely as an investment is a sterile event without any real enthusiasm for the product, or any chance that the “investment” watches will ever see the light of day. Chances are the commoditized timepieces will sit in the dark until the next transaction, never to be enjoyed, shared, or shown-off except to confirm authenticity.

The Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8 HF.

I’m a watch guy and have been for a long time. I appreciate the look, feel, sounds, and even smells (that vanilla scent on a nice rubber strap) that evoke pride of ownership and real enjoyment. Whether an affordable field watch with great lume, or a repeater softly chiming the time, watches are meant to be worn just like cars are meant to be driven.

I have a friend that has had amazing financial success in life. He recently invited me to his home and knowing I’m a car enthusiast was happy to show me some of the exceptional cars he had acquired over the years. One of which was the famous 1955 Jaguar D-Type. Designed for racing at LeMans and other venues, the D Type also happens to be street legal.

The Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon, now in two new designs, feature a new type of dial with tinted gold and aluminum sparkles to match either a platinum or gold case.

So as my friend sees me gaping at his exquisite machine, he tells me to look under the wheel well. I bend over, careful not to touch the coachworks, and look underneath. What I see is a spattering of mud on the wheel well liner. Not only does he drive this seven-million-dollar car, he drives it around town and even drives it to the track on vintage race days!

This post first appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of iW Magazine.

Arnold & Son celebrates the traditional Chinese New Year with a limited edition moon phase watch that beautifully illustrates the Year of the Water Tiger, which begins on February 1.

The watchmaker’s Year of the Tiger Perpetual Moon sports a stunning dial depicting a golden tiger standing near a river and lit by a brilliant mother-of-pearl moon. Hematite and aventurine sparkle as the tiger and a luminous, hand-painted waterfall set the scene.

The new Arnold and Son Perpetual Moon Year of the Tiger.

Arnold & Son’s large moonphase display, already one of the most impressive such displays available from a Swiss watchmaker, here brilliantly reveals the waxing and waning of our satellite with hand-painted relief and a generous coating of SuperLuminova.

During the daytime, the moon takes on a grey tint, while in the dark it glows from the center, contrasting nicely with the adjacent deep black aventurine glass.

Arnold & Son artisans sculpted a rose gold tiger with hand-engraved and hand-burnished fur to highlight the remaining portion of the dial. The nearby bamboo is painted in gold powder on a hematite disc, which displays with glittering inclusions.

Inside Arnold & Son places its own A&S1512 manual-wind caliber, created with two barrels, a frequency of 3 Hz and a terrific ninety-hour power reserve.

Finally, Arnold & Son fits a black alligator strap backed with red alligator leather and stitched with platinum thread to the 42mm red-gold “Year of the Tiger” Perpetual Moon. A limited edition of eight, the watch is priced at CHF 52,900 (approximately $57,695).

 

After debuting its impressive Luna Magna earlier this year, Arnold & Son immediately started working on a high-carat version of the orb-set lunar phase watch.

You may recall that the premiere design features an eye-catching, extra-large 12mm spherical moon, with aventurine representing the moon’s ‘dark’ side with marble standing in for the illuminated side.

The new Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate I.

Where that first model was crafted using a 44mm rose gold case, this new model, the Luna Magna Ultimate I, bases its jeweled interpretation in a white gold case of the same size. Instead a time-only dial of white lacquer, this jeweled edition features a white opal subdial the 12 o’clock position.

To represent the vastness of space Arnold & Son replaces the premiere edition’s aventurine with ruthenium crystals. Arnold & Son explains that ruthenium is an extremely hard metal that belongs to the platinum group. The Swiss watchmaker’s artisans reshape the ruthenium crystals, place them into the faceplate and then blue the plate–all to stunning effect.

Arnold & Son frames the light-refracting dial with a hefty row of 112 baguette diamonds (weighing nearly six carats), which also trail onto the watch’s lugs for extra effect.

The white-gold orb is divided into 161 brilliant-cut diamonds for daytime and as many blue sapphires for night-time.

Finally, on this Luna Magna Arnold & Son creates a new moon. Rather than the marble and aventurine lunar orb we’ve seen previously, this model glows with a three-dimensional moon paved with blue sapphires and diamonds set atop the same-sized white gold orb.

The Arnold & Son hand-wound caliber A&S1021 is designed around the lunar globe and has a power reserve of 90 hours. Note the second lunar phase display, for setting.

The movement

Underneath the newly jeweled Luna Magna Ultimate I is Arnold & Son’s own manual-wind A&S1021 caliber. Designed to propel the lunar globe, the movement has an impressive 90-hour power reserve. And luckily, all of the eight owners of this watch will be able to view the movement through a sapphire caseback, which also offers a second lunar phase display with easy-to-read graduations for correcting the globe setting.

Price: CHF 169,000, or about $184,000. The Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate I is a limited edition of eight pieces.

 

Arnold & Son has dressed one of its most impressive watches, the Globetrotter, in red gold, to create the Globetrotter Gold, effectively underscoring the luxury of this model’s world-time functionality.

The new Arnold & Son Globetrotter Gold.

Previously available cased in steel, the 45mm Globetrotter takes on a new golden glow, especially with its massive openworked bridge now so richly polished in the same gold used to case the watch.

That arched bridge does more that catch the eye. It holds a functional ruby atop the domed Northern Hemisphere dial. Reading world times starts at the ruby, where the eye imagines the start of a longitude line that extends to the 24-hour sapphire ring that surrounds the dial. The wearer identifies local time simply by reading the red hands pointing to the gold indexes.

With this Globetrotter Gold, Arnold & Son enhanced the elegance of the Globetrotter with new accents of both gold and deep blue. The dial’s appliqué indexes are faceted in red gold (and also painted in SuperLuminova). Artisans have also painted the oceans with several coats of blue-pigmented lacquer enriched with pearlescent powder, which means their glow is richer than you might expect for such a small detail. Also, note that Arnold & Son has lightened the coastlines, adding more SuperLuminova to enhance their visiblity in the dark. In contrast, all the mountain ranges are matte finished.

Look for equally fine finishing on the in-house automatic caliber A&S6022, which is visible through the sapphire back. The movement’s 22-karat gold oscillating weight is skeletonized and features the Clou de Paris guilloché pattern. For an added touch of elegance, the brand’s finishers have matched the high-quality anthracite movement plating to the red gold case.

Arnold & Son will make twenty-eight editions of the Globetrotter Gold. Price: CHF 41,900, or about $45,800.

 

Arnold & Son offers a spectacular eight-piece limited edition of its Perpetual Moon watch in celebration of the traditional Chinese calendar New Year. As the Year of the Ox (or Buffalo) begins on February 12, the 42mm red gold Perpetual Moon Year of the Ox watch displays its extra-large mother-of-pearl moon at the top of its dial shining on an ox with large horns standing at 6 o’clock.

The Arnold & Son 42mm red gold Perpetual Moon Year of the Ox.

The ox appears as a miniature 18-karat gold sculpture placed in front of several multi-story pagodas, hand-painted with gold powder. Arnold & Son has generously painted the moon and the pagoda windows with SuperLuminova. Thus, in a dark setting the wearer views a pleasing, miniature evening scene.

In its unusually large aperture, the watch’s moon disc turns as the moon progresses from new to full and back each month. During the day, the moon appears nearly white amid hand-painted constellations, nicely contrasting with the dial’s textured and speckled black background.

Arnold & Son creates that darkness with specular hematite, a mineral the company laminates and layers to heighten its natural glossy appearance. The hematite’s iron composition creates iron, which appear as silvery flakes in a black mass.

Arnold & Son has also incorporated those glittering specks into the double-sided alligator-skin strap. On the strap’s outer face you’ll see them sparkle, embellished with platinum-thread stitching.

The La Chaux-de-Fonds-based manufacture fits the watch with its own Caliber A&S1512, a single-barrel manual-wind movement with an oscillation frequency of 3 Hz, offering an outstanding ninety-hour power reserve. Arnold & Son says that the caliber’s moon-phase display and rotation will remain accurate for 122 years before deviating by one day from the actual appearance of the moon in the night-sky.

 

Price: CHF 49,900, limited edition of eight