Our Turning Points In Time series highlights the key events in a watch brand’s history, listing all notable milestones and developments along the way.
Arnold & Son is one of the earliest and most innovative of English watchmakers.
Birth of John Arnold
John Arnold is born in Bodmin, Cornwall. After his apprenticeship with his father at the age of 20, he left for Holland where he learned German.
Starts own company
John Arnold gains immediate recognition by successfully repairing a complicated watch for Sir William McGuire, a well known watchmaking aficionado. Receives backing from Sir William to open his own shop in Devereaux The Strand, London.
Produces an impressive Minute Repeater-ring and presents it is a gift to King George III, thereby instantly gaining access to circles of wealthy people.
Participates in the Longitude Prize
Sponsored by the Royal Navy, this is the search for a reliable method of calculating longitude at sea, to stop heavy maritime losses and accelerate the expansion of Britain’s empire.
Becomes recognised as the specialist par excellence in marine timepieces, and invents both the detent escapement and bimetallic balance.
Birth of son John Roger Arnold
Birth of John Arnold’s son, John Roger Arnold, who will go on to form Arnold & Son with his father.
Wins Longitude Prize
John Arnold meets the new, stricter ‘Longitude Prize’- requirement for watchmaker-longitude methods: Two identical clock- prototypes are tested both at sea and on land. Entrepreneurial skills and technical genius give him an edge over competitors. He finally co-wins the Longitude Prize (the prize was effectively won and shared by 4 clockmakers).
The Pocket Chronometer
His invention of the ‘detent escapement’ and his other significant movement design improvements allow him to make the first ever ‘Pocket Chronometer’ (chronometer N°36).
Mutiny on the Bounty
In what today would be considered an excellent opportunity for some free publicity, one of John Arnold’s pocket watches became inadvertently involved in the most infamous case of treachery on the high seas in British maritime history.
On April 28th 1789, following a mutiny led by Master’s Mate Christian Fletcher, Captain William Bligh and some followers were cast adrift in a 23 foot cutter with food and water for four days, four cutlasses, a sextant, and a John Arnold pocketwatch.
Bligh had well-placed confidence in his navigational skills, which he had perfected under the instruction of Captain Cook. He succeeded in reaching Timor after a 41-day voyage, with the only casualty being a crewman killed on Tofua.
It’s also likely that Arnold’s marine chronometer installed aboard the Bounty helped Christian Fletcher to plot a course to the uncharted Pitcairn Islands.
John Roger studies with Breguet
His son John Roger Arnold studies for a year in Paris with his father’s friend the legendary French watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet.
John Roger establishes Arnold & Son
John Roger joins his fathers’ firm. ‘Arnold & Son’ and quickly establishes itself as the leading supplier to the Royal Navy.
Death of John Arnold
John Arnold dies in 1799, at the age of 63 and is buried in Chislehurst, Kent.
The death of a successor
John Roger adopts his nephew as his successor but the latter dies in 1829.
Edward John Dent partnership
John Roger and Edward John Dent (another London clockmaker) conclude a 10 year partnership contract.
Death of John Roger
John Roger dies and ‘Arnold & Son’ is repurchased by Charles Frodsham.
1792 – 1916
Arnold chronometers accompany numerous famous British explorers: Cook, Phipps, Vancouver, Flinders, Dr. Livingstone, John Franklin, Sir Ernest Shackleton on their voyages.
Arnold & Son brand revival
Arnold & Son’s legend is revived and perpetuated by a team of outstanding engineers and watchmakers based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The company is called Les Monts SA.
The British Masters
The company name changes to The British Masters SA. Headed by CEO Eric Loth, the company is dedicated to breathing new life into important British watch brands from the past including Graham, and Arnold & Son.
Eric Loth steps down as CEO of British Masters SA but remains on the Board
The Hornet James Cook Collection
Launch of Hornet James Cook Collection, which commemorates the discoveries of famous English explorer, Captain James Cook. Scenes of his three voyages around the world serve as subjects for the dials : ‘The Landing at Botany Bay in Australia’, ‘The Discovery of Antartica’ and ‘The Death in Hawaii.’ This History collection is limited to 25 sets of 3 timepieces each.
The Arnold & Son TE8 Tourbillon
The unveiling of the Arnold & Son TE8 Tourbillon at Baselworld 2011 heralds a brand new collection that will combine classic styling with innovative technology. This new collection will further enhancing the tradition of the brand as an innovative watch company.