The invention of the tourbillon in 1801 is attributed to John
Arnold's close friend and fellow watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Breguet,
but there is evidence to suggest that Arnold played more than a
small role in its development. Some indication of the close
professional relationship that existed between them and of Arnold's
involvement in the mechanism can be found in the fact that
Breguet's first-ever tourbillon was mounted in John Arnold's No. 11
movement, a watch which can be seen to this day in London's British
Museum and bears a dedication to Arnold from Breguet.
The tourbillon is one of the most elegant and inspired
complications in the history of watchmaking. As simple in principle
as it is difficult to make, the mechanism was designed to eliminate
the errors of rate caused by gravity on a pocket watch carried in a
vertical position. Weighing mere fractions of a gram, it consists
of a mobile cage that contains all the parts of the escapement,
with the balance at the centre. The cage completes one revolution
around its own axis every minute, thus ensuring that the balance
wheel oscillates at different positions in the course of its 360°
journey and that the rate remains as constant as possible.
The TE8 Tourbillon heralds a brand-new collection that combines
classical styling with innovative, state-of-the-art technology.
Some of its more distinctive features are obvious at first glance.
Compared with other more conventional tourbillons found today, the
TE8's movement is said to be "inverted": in other words, most of
the technical elements and visually interesting features can be
seen on the dial side, when they would normally be hidden away on
The timepiece also boasts a number of typically English
technical idiosyncrasies that will interest even the most
discerning watch connoisseur. Take the symmetrical layout of the
movement, for instance: achieving this meant surmounting several
difficult technical challenges. As a result, the barrel spring and
the tourbillon cage are centred along the watch's longitudinal
axis. The tourbillon itself is mounted on a single bridge -à
l'anglaise, as it is known in watchmaking circles. A closer
examination of the winding system reveals a traditional
construction used in older watches that involves the use of
"wolf-teeth", an asymmetrical tooth system featuring both long and
narrow spokes used primarily to improve the smoothness of the
overall movement and to enhance its elegant design.
From an aesthetic point of view, however, the feature that sets
Arnold & Son's Tourbillon TE8 apart is its singularly English
design. Some of the more obvious elements include the meticulously
positioned three-quarter barrel bridge with its large wave-shaped
cut-out and a lavish decoration unique to Arnold & Son, the
triangular tourbillon and motion-work bridges, and the three-spoke
design of the wheels, which are shaped with such distinctive flair.
Needless to say, every detail of this striking piece, such as the
black and brushed polishing, bevelling and movement decoration, is
painstakingly hand-finished by Arnold & Son's master