The new Arnold & Son TE8 Métiers d’Art I is limited to just a handful of pieces. Reading the Arnold & Son website, you’d really think the brand was English, the way they talk about traditional English watchmaking and movement decoration. Are they British? Not really. John Arnold, the legendary English watchmaker was, of course, from England. The Arnold & Son of today is a testament to his work and legacy, though it is entirely Swiss.
There are very few actual watchmakers left in England producing timepieces (like Roger Smith), even though it is coming back (a bit). Most watches of this ilk are produced in Switzerland, and Arnold & Son is, unsurprisingly, one of them. In fact, Arnold & Son is a sort of extension of the La Joux-Perret movement manufacturer. Given that internal expertise and capability, Arnold & Son is able to produce such a wealth of interesting and complicated in-house movements. So why they focus so much on the English thing is strange to me. It is not enough to be inspired but a great English watchmaker but be resolutely Swiss?
While this question may seem inane to some, I think they are going to become more and more relevant, as Arnold & Son has been on a wonderful roll over the last few years, producing consistently cool timepieces at both the ultra-high-end range as well as the “normal” high-end range. This is due to a combination of their talented lead designer, as well as their industrial flexibility when it comes to making new cases, components, or entire movements. That they are willing to experiment with so many ideas, so often, is a true testament to their (Swiss) work.
Among their tourbillon-based models, is the TE8 (Tourbillon Escapement 8, which refers to the 80 hours of power reserve) and it comes in a few versions. This TE8 Métiers d’Art I version is perhaps the most visually arresting as it contains a unique machine engraved design for much of the dial that was created exclusively for this piece. It takes up more than half of the overall face, and is really stunning to look at.
The movement inside of the TE8 watch is the Arnold & Son caliber A&S8000. It is manually wound with 80 hours of power reserve and operates as a frequency of 21,600 bph (3Hz). The movement contains a traditional-styled tourbillon and the time. The mainspring barrel is partially skeletonized and viewable under 12 o’clock on the dial. Being able to see how tightly wound the spring is acts as a sort of power reserve indicator. The overall presentation of the A&S8000 movement is very good.
A lot of the movement decoration is done by hand, and he overall finishing of the movement is in a dark tone so this is not unfinished German Silver. Some of the movement is rhodium plated while other elements are in a NAC gray plated finish. I happen to like deeper colored movements that are decorated. It helps keep them masculine in appearance, but also classically high-end.
On he wrist the Arnold & Son TE8 Métiers d’Art I sits 44mm wide in 18k rose gold. Arnold & Son wasn’t going for a small watch, so this certainly isn’t one. One of the things I like about Arnold & Son is that they aren’t afraid to produce very traditionally-themed watches in sizes a lot more watch lovers wish to wear today.
Arnold & Son will produce just eight pieces of the limited edition TE8 Métiers d’Art I watch, but again this just one of a few TE8 collection watches (though I happen to feel that it is the most attractive). Overall the TE8 mixes the legibility and boldness of a high-end watch someone might wear on a regular basis, with an old-world decorative charm that I think the brand just keeps getting better and replicating.
Price is $131,900. arnoldandson.com