Introducing the True Second by Arnold & Son
The “deadbeat second” is a true watchmaking complication that has little use nowadays. But just like the tourbillon, this mechanism, which allows the seconds hand to jump once a second and not six or eight times, still appears on some new products. Arnold & Son has even made it their speciality.
When the seconds hand appeared on pocket watches in the late 18th century, it was soon called the “central seconds hand”. It’s hurried little jumps, in accordance with the frequency of the balance wheel’s oscillation (six jumps/second for 3 hertz, eight for 4 hertz), made it look like a hamster running in its wheel.
But since the chronograph hadn’t yet been invented to stop hands and measure short time, it was of no use to sailors. They needed the seconds as a basis to determine longitude during long journeys.
So watchmakers created the “deadbeat second” for the famous marine chronometers as well as astronomers’ regulators. Also called the “sudden second” by Abraham-Louis Breguet, “true second” or even “jumping second”, the idea is to freeze the seconds hand and store the balance wheel’s energy to only release it for every full second. This provides greater understanding for counting time. The many solutions, from the second barrel and spring strip to a new escapement gave rise to real complications at the time. These additional mechanisms fell into oblivion but are now attracting interest again.
Inspired by the marine chronometers designed in 1764 onwards, Arnold & Son is one of the main players in the revival. Unveiled as a preview at Baselworld 2016, the DSTB – for Dial Side True Beat – is a model with a true beat second showcased on the dial. The mechanism is exceedingly elegant. It features an additional wheel paired with the fourth wheel which usually bears the seconds hand turning constantly at 9. This triggers a spring which, once a second, releases an anchor-shaped lever. This then powers the seconds hand which marches along an oversize sapphire ring off-centre at 11 o’ clock.
The self-winding movement designed, developed and made entirely in-house lies in a 43.5mm white gold case. Limited edition (125 available).
By Fabrice Eschmann
Flowers have put down roots in the HM’s mother-of-pearl dial bursting with romantic symbolism. This bouquet includes a blossoming floral quartet with long petals, bright colours and all painstakingly hand-painted. A sensual mauve orchid, cheerful yellow iris, soft blue iris and sweet red lily: each flower unfurls on its own white opalescent dial surrounded by a ring of round diamonds. The fine bezel wrapped around the 40mm rose gold case can be paved with gems to illuminate the miniature floral artwork. This golden setting with a pink, green, purple or orange lizard strap houses the manual wind A&S1001 calibre which you can see through the sapphire crystal case back; this movement brings to life the time functions and provides a 90-hour power reserve. Two gold spear-shape hands burst from the heart of each bloom to track time and glide over the subtle black pearlescent minute track. Price: 36’763 CHF
The little London workshop founded in 1764 has now become a major brand based in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It is highly creative in watchmaking terms and keeps the imaginative spirit of its founder, John Arnold, alive. The brand’s rich heritage enables it to dip into its archives and take inspiration from past watches to create future timepieces. An example of this is the Golden Wheel which embodies the technical “features” of a 17th century watch to showcase an automatic chronoscope twinned with a dead-beat second. The first complication lies on the dial as a mother-of-pearl semi-circle gliding over 3 sapphire discs bearing the hours. The silver-tone chapter ring displays the minutes between 10 and 12 o’ clock on the 44mm rose gold case. A slim seconds hand with an openwork tip lies on a thick rose gold wheel and tracks the seconds on the upper half of the chapter ring. Price: 46,764 CHF
The giant panda is native to China where it embodies friendship, peace and the perfect balance between strength and calm. The gentle giant wrapped in black and white fur is also hugely popular in the West. The quiet strength and determination of this endangered creature radiates from the dial of the limited edition HM Panda (28 available). A heartfelt story is told on the black lacquer dial: a hand-painted white gold appliqué adult panda and cub eat shoots and sit peacefully on rocky ground by a bamboo tree. Two hands burst from the centre of the dial to track the hours and minutes around the diamond bezel. The manual wind A&S1001 calibre brings the time functions and 90-hour power reserve to life from the heart of the 40mm rose or white gold case. Price: from 31,320 CHF
What is a true beat? According to the Berner dictionary a.k.a. the watchmaker’s bible, it’s a “large hand in the centre of the dial which jumps once per second and can be stopped whilst the watch continues to work.” However, we should mention that the true beat is an increasingly rare complication which is probably one of the reasons why Arnold&Son has showcased it in this piece to celebrate its 250th anniversary. The independent seconds with a slim blue seconds hand sits at 11 o’ clock on the sapphire disc which appears to hover above the grey dial with circular enamelling. The hours and minutes lie at 4 o’ clock on a lacquered dial with black Roman numerals and two blue hands with hollow tips. The time is brought to life by the self-winding A&S6003 calibre (which also provides a 50-hour power reserve) housed in the 43.5mm rose gold case. Price: 44,928 CHF