This is what happens when a watchmaking company has the capability to design and build its own movements, and also possesses a healthy sense of creativity. You get something that – at last – looks completely different. It’s a different approach to the trade: instead of buying a ready-built movement from ETA, Sellita or Miyota and putting it into a case, you start from scratch. The watch develops from the original concept. A company like Arnold & Son proves that it is possible, and the watches that emerge are a pleasure to observe.
In addition, this piece is skeletonized, and again it differs from most skeletonized watches that generally start off as being a conventional movement and then are progressively opened up by removing metal from the bridges. In this case, the movement has coalesced from nothing onto the original concept, like a galaxy forming from primordial gases. The movement is given symmetry and order by the use of triangular bridges, derived from antique British pocket watches in which this feature can be seen, analogous to the so-called Charles X-style bridges that also inspired Christophe Claret.
The Nebula is pure joy to observe. At the top, the two mainspring barrels. At the centre, the gear train that transmits energy from the crown to the barrels, and underneath, the going train. At the bottom, the balance on one side, mirrored by the scale for the continuous seconds hand on the other. It can’t have been an easy task, positioning the gears so that their pivots corresponded exactly to the bridges. “It’s not rocket science,” you may say, but I would reply that it’s pretty close. Certainly harder than Sudoku.
The watch has a 41.5 mm case, with sapphire caseback that provides another totally different view of the movement, with graceful arching bridges. It is a slim watch at 8.73 mm, with standard 30 metre water resistance. It has a leather strap, brown or black alligator for the red gold version, anthracite calf leather for the stainless steel version.
The A&S5101 movement has a balance running at 3 Hertz, 21,600 vibrations per hour. It is hand-wound, and the two mainspring barrels provide a power reserve of 90 hours. It is beautifully finished, with Arnold & Son’s characteristic three-spoked wheels, gold chatons for the main bearing rubies, and screws with mirror-polished heads.
Two versions, gold and stainless steel
In the red gold version, the colour contrasts are provided by palladium-treated bridges and NAC-treated mainplate, with a light grey chapter ring. In the stainless steel version, the bridges are NAC-treated, while the mainplate is black ADLC-treated. In both, the different shades of metal ensure total clarity and enable the movement’s engineering to be appreciated to the full. The stainless steel version is reference 1NEAS.B01A.D134A, and costs 13,500 Swiss francs. The red gold version is reference 1NEAR.S01A.D135A and costs 24,800 Swiss francs. Exceptionally low prices considering that these are watches with a specially-designed in-house movement. Sell the car, buy a bicycle… and this watch. More from the Arnold & Son website.