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Turning Points in Time of Arnold & Son

by Michael Weare
4 May, 2011
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Arnold & Son Moonphase

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.

1736

Birth of John Arnold

Birthplace 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.

1764

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.

1769

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.

1770

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).

1773

The Pocket Chronometer

John Arnold 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).

1789

Mutiny on the Bounty

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.

1792

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.

1796

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.

1799

Death of John Arnold

John Arnold dies in 1799, at the age of 63 and is buried in Chislehurst, Kent.

1811

The death of a successor

John Roger adopts his nephew as his successor but the latter dies in 1829.

1826

Edward John Dent partnership

John Roger and Edward John Dent (another London clockmaker) conclude a 10 year partnership contract.

1843

Death of John Roger

John Roger dies and ‘Arnold & Son’ is repurchased by Charles Frodsham.

1792 – 1916

Famous explorers

Captain Cook, Dr. Livingstone and Ernest Shackleton

Arnold chronometers accompany numerous famous British explorers: Cook, Phipps, Vancouver, Flinders, Dr. Livingstone, John Franklin, Sir Ernest Shackleton on their voyages.

1995

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.

2001

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.

2010

Arnold & Son Hornet Captain Cook Collection

Eric Loth

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.

2011

Arnold & Son TE8 Tourbillon

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.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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