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ReviewLegends In Stone: Presenting The Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Dragon And Phoenix Watches

Paying tribute to Chinese mythology, the Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Dragon and Phoenix timepieces are the perfect embodiments of artistic expression as they showcase the Swiss brand’s expertise in the traditional decorative techniques

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The decorative arts have always held a significant realm in the watchmaking world, where age-old techniques—mastered over centuries—are exhibited by maisons to showcase their expertise in ornate crafts such as enamelling, miniature painting, and engraving on precious metals or stones. There are not too many brands which specialise in this sphere since it’s developed over time and requires trained artisans to execute and bring these alluring designs to fruition. Arnold & Son are among the few companies that have a solid foundation when it comes to crafting some of the most ornate watches as seen in their Metiers d’Arts collection. The Ultrathin Tourbillon Dragon & Phoenix watches from this line are perfect embodiments of these decorative techniques and stand out for using a wide colour palette and a range of semi-precious stones. Each of the five models features a dial made from a different hardstone. Bronzite, eudialyte, marcassite, pietersite, and verdite are coloured minerals with deep surface effects, but are little known and rarely used in watchmaking. Arnold & Son chose these varieties of hardstone for their evocative properties. In bronzite, pearlescent, red and black inclusions stand out against predominant beige tones. Black and grey marcassite is scattered with outgrowths like stones emerging from a flat landscape. The deep blue grey hue of pietersite is crossed by expansive iridescent clouds. Meanwhile, verdite, reveals a bright, shifting green pattern. Lastly, the intense eudialyte contains gradients of purple with mottled white veins. Each version is released as an edition of five pieces only, totaling 25 pieces, and they have a marked significance as we enter the Year of the Dragon in 2024. Let’s take a closer look.

Arnold Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Dragon And Phoenix
Paying tribute to Chinese mythology, the Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon Dragon and Phoenix timepieces are the perfect embodiments of artistic expression as they showcase the Swiss brand’s expertise in the traditional decorative techniques

Artworks For The Wrist

These watches boast a rich structure and serve as a backdrop for the two legendary creatures, which have immense significance in Chinese mythology—the Dragon and The Phoenix. According to traditional beliefs, the Dragon and the Phoenix symbolise royalty, harmony, and everlasting love. These majestic creatures decided to make a pearl together—one using its talons, the other its teeth. The jewel was the extraordinary product of their equally impressive magical powers and was stolen by the mother of the Jade Emperor. It fell down from the heavens and the animals rushed to catch it mid-air. This pearl of wisdom and fertility is the essence of the Ultrathin Tourbillon Dragon and Phoenix tale. The two creatures are depicted by two expressive and finely-worked miniature sculptures, curled up on either side of the dial. Complete with scales, feathers, spurs, teeth, beak and mane—they are entirely crafted from solid rose gold and engraved by hand. Here, the level of detailing is extraordinary considering these two figurines measure only 2cm long. There is an actual mother-of-pearl placed in the dragon’s claws to depict the pearl from the ancient lore.

  • The Watch Guide

    Each of the five models features a dial made from a different hardstone, and the model featured here uses verdite, which reveals a bright, shifting green pattern

  • The Watch Guide

    In the bronzite version, pearlescent, red and black inclusions stand out against predominant beige tones

  • The Watch Guide

    The intense eudialyte version contains gradients of purple with mottled white veins

  • The Watch Guide

    The black and grey marcassite dial is scattered with outgrowths like stones emerging from a flat landscape

  • The Watch Guide

    The deep blue grey hue of pietersite is crossed by expansive iridescent clouds

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Arnold & Son Métiers D'Arts Shop the Collection

Products Of Geology, Crafted To Perfection

As mentioned earlier, the dials of these watches are carved using semi-precious stones and by merging these naturally occurring minerals with fine watchmaking savoir-faire, Arnold & Son have been able to craft these masterpieces that truly stand out. Here, no two pieces would be alike, since the rock is used in its natural form and becomes distinctive due to the ageing process. However, this task is quite challenging for watchmakers as only a few artisans are equipped with the skill and experience to work on such dials, since one small mistake during any stage makes the work-in-progress useless and the watchmakers have to start the entire process from scratch. Each of these versions comes with a large-scaled alligator skin strap that matches the dial, paired with an 18-karat gold thread top stitching. The watches cases are also crafted in red-gold, measuring 42mm in diameter and 8.60mm in thickness (or thinness). This is a remarkable feat since the watch also has a tourbillon function, and generally such timepieces are usually robust in proportions, owing to the structure of the mechanism. Besides this, they also stand out for their accuracy, a refined skeletonised structure, and symmetrical architecture. At no point does the dial look cluttered even though it features two engraved figurines, an off-centred dial at 12 o’clock, and the tourbillon positioned at six o’clock, thus scoring high on the aesthetic as well as the mechanical aspects of watchmaking.

The Watch Guide

The dials of these watches are carved using semi-precious stones and by merging these naturally occurring minerals with fine watchmaking savoir-faire

The Watch Guide

Only a few artisans are equipped with the skill and experience to work on such dials. One small mistake during any stage and the watchmakers have to start the entire process from scratch

The Watch Guide

Here, the level of detailing is extraordinary considering the two figurines of the dragon and the phoenix measure only 2cm long

The Watch Guide

Complete with scales, feathers, spurs, teeth, beak and mane—they are entirely crafted from solid rose gold and engraved by hand

Thin Mechanical Structure, Big Gains

The watches are driven by the A&S8200 calibre, measuring 2.97mm thick—making it one of the thinnest to be regulated by a tourbillon. Like all the movements used by the brand, this powerhouse was entirely developed, produced, decorated, assembled, adjusted, and cased at their manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Consisting 29 jewels, this calibre is based on a large barrel with an oscillation frequency of 21,600vph, supplying a 90-hour power reserve that is extremely rare for a tourbillon, especially given its thin architecture. It’s a richly decorated movement that features a main plate with Côtes de Genève stripes, bridges that are polished and chamfered by hand, circular satin-finished wheels, blued and chamfered, mirror-polished screws, a skeletonised tourbillon bridge, and the rear tourbillon bridge, which is engraved by hand.

The Watch Guide
The watches are driven by the A&S8200 calibre, measuring 2.97mm thick—making it one of the thinnest to be regulated by a tourbillon. Consisting 29 jewels, this richly-decorated calibre is based on a large barrel with an oscillation frequency of 21,600vph, supplying a 90-hour power reserve that is extremely rare for a tourbillon, especially given its thin architecture

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