Yes, that’s right, there’s not really a dial on this watch. Sure, that photo up above makes it seem like there is, but that’s really the movement you’re seeing there (albeit one that’s very highly-, and hand-, decorated). Oh, and this isn’t just a beautiful movement – there’s actually some pretty complex things going on with this watch.
Of course, with a storied brand like A&S, it’s only fitting that this watch, the TE8 Métiers d’Art I, draw from the past. And here it does, referencing pocket watches that John Arnold made for King George III. While it has it’s roots there, this watch is very modern, as evidenced by the inclusion of the haute horologie complication of choice, the tourbillon. Then again, it’s not included just for complexity sake – John Arnold actually worked closely with A. L. Breguet (perhaps you’ve heard of him?) to place Breguet’s first tourbillon into Arnold’s No. 11 movement – a partnership that can be seen in London’s British Museum.
So, there’s some history there with the complication. Not content to rest on the difficulty of producing such a piece, A&S also decided to “invert” the tourbillon, so that the more visually-interesting elements of it would be visible from the dial side of the watch. Being English, they couldn’t just let that tourbillon sit unbalanced at 6 o’clock, so they’ve placed the barrel spring up at 12 o’clock, nicely evening things out. In between the two, you have the wave-shaped 3/4 barrel bridge, which also separates the extensive hand-engraving up top from the simpler lower half.
Fortunately for watch lovers (and the few lucky owners), you can see all of the movement, as there isn’t any dial to speak of. It’s just the movement, sandwiched in between two sapphire crystals, and a pair of hands floating on top. And I’m glad they’ve done this – the movement itself is a beauty, through and through. Many times, we might catch glimpses of a portion of a movement that’s been decorated or made more “ready” for viewing. Having a movement such as the A&S8000 on display, though, I can only imagine as being a sublime treat.
The whole package is wrapped up in a 44mm rose gold case, which acts a great precious metal balance to the German silver that’s used for the plates in the movement. As you might expect for the materials and effort involved, and the fact that only eight of these hand-wound watches will exists, pricing is in the category of “if you have to ask…” Ok, ok, you asked – it’s $131,900. arnoldandson.com
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