In Chinese mythology the dragon is a divine creature signifying power and good fortune, and is the free spirit of the zodiac. Arnold & Son’s latest addition to their Instrument Collection was created to celebrate this divine creature – Arnold & Son Métiers d’Art TB Dragon Limited Edition. Featuring one of the instantly recognizable design cues of the Instrument Collection, the off-centre positioning of the time display at 9 o’clock leaves a generous open area and creates a perfect setting for the exquisite engraved and hand-painted depiction of a dragon, which is the dominant feature of this fine-quality wristwatch.
Hand engraving is a traditional art form that makes use of hardened steel tools called burins and other special implements. They create cuts, lines and texturing that build up entire images or, as in the case of the TB Dragon, a perfectly sculpted figure of a dragon in solid 22-karat rose gold. The breathtaking richness of detail is then duplicated in rose gold for the rest of the series. Once the appliqué is in place on the dial, the dragon’s textures and shades are emphasized by hand-painting, a process that accentuates its three-dimensional nature. Hand engraving and miniature painting both call for infinite patience and expertise and take many years of concentrated practice to fully master.
With its pure, timeless design, the Instrument Collection takes its inspiration from the chronometers produced by John Arnold’s son, John Roger, in the latter part of his career. “These were specially designed to withstand the rigours of life on the high seas,” explains Philippe Boven of Arnold & Son, “and to deliver the true-beat, down-to-the-second precision needed by marine navigators to determine longitude. The true beat is a rare complication these days, and combining it with an automatic winding system calls for enormous technical expertise.”
In the A&S6103, this was made possible by a patented system comprising a sophisticated double wheel, an oscillating pinion and a pallet mechanism. A solution of this complexity calls for microscopic precision (to tolerances of a micron, or one thousandth of a millimetre), and the key components are made using state-of-the-art LIGA manufacturing technology. LIGA, a German acronym, stands for Lithographie, Galvanoformung, Abformung – lithography, electroplating and moulding – and describes the sequence of processes used to produce metal parts made of nickel and nickel-phosphorus.
The case houses the rhodium-treated A&S6103 movement with Haute Horlogerie finishing. All the plates and bridges in the movement are hand-chamfered and decorated – a further indication of the traditional craftsmanship upheld by Arnold & Son.
The TB Dragon special edition is limited to just twenty-eight timepieces.