Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi
The Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi pairs the slender torso of the UTTE model with a mother-of-pearl dial enriched with hand-painted carp and sculpted lotuses. This unique piece is presented in a 42mm 18-carat red gold case and perfectly illustrates the Maison’s technical expertise and artistic prowess.
Arnold & Son, the luxury watch brand based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, is named after the legendary British watchmaker John Arnold and his son, John Roger Arnold. The father and son duo were exceptional watchmakers. John Arnold was renowned for making pocket chronometers and marine chronometers. Furthermore, he was a close friend of the celebrated watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Breguet. In fact, John Roger Arnold studied in Paris under the tutelage of Breguet.
In 1995, the name Arnold & Son was revived and, in just 15 years, the company became a fully integrated Manufacture (2010). The beauty of its watches produced after 2010 onwards is that the dials are optimised in order to exhibit harmonious proportions and symmetry. Once a dial has been designed, the movement is then engineered accordingly. This is in stark contrast to the usual approach where an off the peg movement is procured and the dial is designed to fit thereafter, leading to inevitable compromises.
Back in 2013, Arnold & Son unveiled its UTTE model. The name of the watch is an acronym for ‘ultra-thin tourbillon escapement’. A small off-centre hour and minutes display is positioned at noon, affording a large expansive canvas available for artistic expression. Over the years the model has been offered with a variety of dial colours and case materials. Furthermore, the brand has offered the watch with mother-of-pearl, skeleton and guilloché dials.
However, perhaps some of the most extraordinary dials created by Arnold & Son feature a hand-painted miniature. One such watch paid tribute to HMS Beagle, incorporating intricately painted maritime scenes. Now the Maison has unveiled the Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi which features hand-painted carp and sculpted lotuses, set against a mother-of-pearl backdrop. This latest model upholds the company’s reputation for crafting exquisite mechanical watches along with perpetuating the centuries-old traditions of métiers d’art.
The brand’s press release
Arnold & Son is highlighting its tradition of bespoke watch creations. Ever attentive to the wishes of its customers, the brand is offering them the chance to personalise its collections. Customers can apply substantial changes, making a case, movement or dial unique through engraving, gem-setting, miniature painting or sculpted elements.
One of the models that is particularly well suited to this exercise is the Ultrathin Tourbillon, with its off-centred dial at 12 o’clock. This arrangement frees up space to provide an empty canvas that can be filled with whatever the customer desires.
Beneath the surface
In the same vein, the Swiss brand with English roots presents the Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi, a unique piece that depicts two carp gliding between lotus blossoms. Koi are a popular theme in traditional Japanese art and inspire tranquillity. Above and beyond their beauty and serenity, they are a symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity.
A Tancho carp, recognisable thanks to the large red mark on its head, swims on the right-hand side of the dial. Peering out from beneath the sleeve, it is the first to be seen when checking the time. The scene continues with another koi in shades of white and orange gracing the other side of the dial.
A pond in full bloom
Above these ornamental carp float three lotus blossoms. The petals are cut from silver and shaped, before being engraved, polished and painted in dazzling white lacquer. Each flower’s pistil is formed separately using the same techniques, then the two parts are combined.
The carp and lotus leaves, meanwhile, are painted by hand using incredibly thin brushes that allow a wealth of details to be added, such as scales, barbels and striped fins. The base of the dial is made from blue-toned mother-of-pearl, its iridescent shimmer evoking the water in which this charming scene unfolds.
A ripple of opportunity
Beneath this poetic depiction of pond life, Arnold & Son draws on the vast possibilities presented by the calibre A&S8200. Its thickness of 2.97 mm puts it within touching distance of the all-time records for thinness in this category.
The movement displays the hours and minutes in an off-centred dial at 12 o’clock. At 6 o’clock, an aperture reveals a tourbillon whose construction is special in more ways than one.
Movement in the water
First and foremost, the tourbillon is a ‘flying’ variety, meaning that it only has a lower carriage bridge. Since the top is not held in place, a few precious millimetres of height can be saved, thus freeing up the view of this timekeeping mechanism. The balance, meanwhile, is off-centred from the carriage axis, creating a dynamic visual impression as the tourbillon rotates. Another distinctive feature is the balance bridge, which is domed and extends slightly from the dial, ensuring that the rest of the movement is unaffected by the total height. This, in turn, makes the tourbillon’s rotation all the more spectacular. The effect is further accentuated by the skeletonised main plate located just beneath the tourbillon.
The resulting transparency creates an ethereal impression consistent with the refined theme of the Ultrathin Tourbillon Koi. Finally, this manually wound movement features an exceptional 90-hour power reserve – another technical signature of the House.
Images: Copyright © Arnold & Son