A Complete Guidebook On Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton Dual-Time Men’s Watch
Symmetry in the design and construction of its displays and movements has always been a huge part of Arnold & Son’s DNA. In its case however, the design doesn’t drive the development of the movement, but the opposite. See, for instance, the Constant Force Tourbillon, the Nebula or the Time Pyramid and you’ll quickly notice the importance of symmetry to the brand. Playing with this same concept, Swiss Arnold & Son has pushed the idea even further, creating a watch with two entirely separate time displays, driven by an incredible twin-movement. And in order to enjoy this mechanical feast, a new version, the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton, exposes all its entrails in a demonstrative but elegant way.
Usually, Arnold & Son Skeleton Watches (timepieces that display two different time-zones at once, thanks to a GMT hand or a sub-dial with a second indication of the time) are regulated by one single movement – meaning one gear train, one escapement and one balance. To obtain a differentiated indication for the second time-zone, these watches traditionally feature an adjustable hour hand, which can be disconnected from the main hour hand, with one-hour increments. Yet, the minutes, and of course the seconds, are still equal for both time-zones. This might be problematic, considering that not all time-zones are based on full hours (13 time-zones are based on quarter- or half-hours, out of an overall 37 time-zones around the world). A few watches however have an independent minute display too, but once again, there’s only one regulating organ – meaning an extra train of wheels interfering with the chronometry. With the DBG (for Dual Balance GMT), Arnold & Son pushes the concept to another level, which for us, mechanical lovers, is very interesting.
The Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton Dual-Time not only displays two independent time-zones, but actually, does so by the means of two independent movements, united in one calibre. Each dial, displaying the hours and minutes – one with full hands and Arabic numerals, the other with open hands and Roman numerals, in order to differentiate them – is actually driven by its own barrel and gear train with its own escapement and balance – and because the DBG is now offered in a skeleton version, the whole mechanism is visible thanks to its open-worked execution. This means several things: first of all, on the practical side, you can independently adjust each time-zone to the desired hour AND minute.
It also means that each time-zone is self-regulated, thanks to independent regulating organs (no differential or no resonance effect between the two balances, so each will have its own chronometry). This type of watch is referred to as a “captain’s watch” because a separate barrel/gear train and balance/escapement enables the watch to house different complications without having one influencing the accuracy of the other by draining its energy. It is therefore perfectly adapted to be used for a second time zone, as in the Arnold & Son DBG Skeleton. On the back side of the movement, we can appreciate the almost symmetrical architecture. The only features in common to the two time-zones in this movement are the central second, the 24h / night&day indication (although it has two hands, one for each display) and the winding of the barrels, done by one single crown (the right one). However, each time-zone is adjusted by independent crowns.
The movement, in-house produced of course in the tradition of Arnold & Son’s production, is beautifully finished, with thin Geneva stripes, chamfered bridges with polished edges and satin finish surfaces, fine circular graining, satin finished wheels with three-spoke design and thermally blued screws. Thanks to the now opened dial, this fine execution is also visible when the DBG Skeleton is worn, with a dial full of depth, reflections (those polished angles…) and contrast. Technically, with the exception of its twin-architecture (which requires a large diameter movement – 35mm – and therefore a large case – 44mm), the movement remains classical, with a 3Hz frequency and a 40h power reserve. Still, it shows an impressive thinness for the level of complication, measuring only 3.90mm, for a watch that overall remains below 10mm.
The look of the watch is impressive. There’s a lot going on this dial – something that many skeleton watches have in common – still the perfect symmetry allows for a very decent legibility. The differentiation between Arabic and Roman numerals, full or opened hands, makes time reading rather intuitive. Furthermore, indications are applied on “smoked” metal-treated sapphire crystals, allowing both transparency as well as legibility. In addition to that, you’ll enjoy the double ballet of the balances and escape wheels (visible through a small aperture). Clearly, a watch that aficionados will enjoy and will probably spend a few hours just to contemplate.