While it isn’t glitzed up with new technology or a fancy story, the new Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy is most certainly a sleeper hit of Baselworld 2016 with an attractive dial, good-looking and useful movement, and all-around decent price in three new steel-case models.
Arnold & Son isn’t shy about saying that the Eight-Day Royal Navy is their own personal entrant into the “marine chronometer-inspired” wrist watch arena. This segment isn’t super crowded, but other brands like Ulysse Nardin tend to have more years of experience in producing watches like this. With that said, if you look at the minor details, then you’ll notice that Arnold & Son is indeed bringing its own unique marine chronometer-style watch to the table with the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy.
One of the most impressive things from an exclusivity standpoint is that Arnold & Son still produces under 1000 watches per year (about 800, last I heard) – and yet they are able to continually come out with new and interesting movements. This is, of course, due in part to their ownership by movement maker La Joux-Perret (which in turn is owned by Citizen). This gives Arnold & Son a unique access to people and machinery to do all kinds of crazy stuff like make a huge variety of movements, each in relatively small numbers – something most other brands of this size cannot enjoy.
At 43mm wide (water resistant to 30 meters) in a deceptively complicated (yet refined) steel case, the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy is also just 10.7mm thick with an expansive sapphire crystal caseback window showing off the new in-house-made manually wound movement (more on that in a moment). The dial layout is typical “marine chronometer” with the main dial for the time and a symmetrical layout for the power reserve indicator under 12 o’clock, and a subsidiary seconds dial over 6 o’clock.
What makes the dials really special is machine guilloche engraving which is then lacquered for color. The “squiggly line” style pattern (I’m certain that is how the French-speaking horologers of old would refer to them – “le squiggelle!”) are lovely and the dials of the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy watches are offered in either blue, black, or silver… along with good-looking matching calf leather straps.
Legibility and sexiness is high on the dials which have, in my opinion, the right mixture of class and sophistication, as well as a tendency to grab attention. Strong yet traditional-looking hands add a sense of masculine purpose, and Arnold & Son was even able to insert a date indicator window into the mix (in the subsidiary seconds dial).
Powering the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy watches is the newly developed Arnold & Son caliber A&S1016 manually wound movement. At just 4.7mm thick, the movement offers a full eight days (192 hours) of power reserve (between two barrels) operating at 3Hz (21,600bph).
Arnold & Son is good about offering a lot of visual appeal to their movements, combining polished decoration as well as color through liberal use of blued-steel screws, gold chatons, and large synthetic ruby jewels. For the most part, the bridges are also “palladium-treated.” For the money, there is a lot of value here in terms of both visual design and functionality (not to mention that element of exclusivity I discussed previously).
As a dressier or business watch, the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy says a lot of good things about the wearer and given the versatility of the dial designs and strap colors, I think that Arnold & Son will do very well with these watches. There isn’t a lot of hidden details, meaning that what also is good about the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy collection is that consumers need only a few minutes to understand what they are getting. Arnold & Son matched the reference 1EDAS.U01A.D136A watch with the blue dial to a blue strap, and the reference 1EDAS.B01A.D134A gets a really cool matching gradient gray strap. The reference 1EDAS.S01A.D135A comes on a cool gradient (ahem, “hand-aged”) brown strap. Price for each of the Arnold & Son Eight-Day Royal Navy watches is $12,950 USD. arnoldandson.com
Rather than the energy from the mainspring flowing right into the escapement, it must first pass through Arnold & Son’s constant force mechanism. The already controlled power supply charges a little hairspring, which releases a consistent amount of power to the tourbillon once per second. With this mechanism, there’ll still come a stage when the energy released by the double barrels and the continuous force mechanism drops below a stage that’s enough to keep up a normal output. When this happens, the watch stops instead of letting an isochronal error to creep into the timekeeping.In accession to this interesting solution, the Arnold & Son Continuous Force Tourbillon comes with a deadbeat seconds complication, which causes the seconds hand to “tick” rather than sweep as you may expect in a mechanical timepiece. Outstanding consistency is achieved thanks to the symmetry of this movement’s construction, in addition to the fact that the continuous force escapement remains stationary throughout performance, whereas the tourbillon cage moves once a minute. That is in an attempt to decrease the influence of gravity on the escapement’s operation. Assuming, though, that this view is not likely to be worn in the presence of powerful magnetic fields (it’s hardly acceptable for use on a building site or while flying a helicopter, for example), the complication perfectly suits the planned application.The Arnold & Son Constant Force Tourbillon watch is a limited variant of that only 28 will be produced. It has a 46mm 18ct rose gold case fitted using an anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a sapphire display back. The A&S5119 movement has 39 jewels, a depth of 6mm, a 90-hour energy book, and works in 21,600vph. The motion is almost perfectly symmetrical, and each of the technical components are observable on the dial-side. The three-dimensional motion structure is intended to echo the English heritage of marine chronometer construction. The watch is water resistant to 30 metres and comes on a hand-stitched brown leather alligator strap. Price is available on request.