A look at the Arnold & Son CTB, the first chronograph to ever feature a True Beat seconds hand.

If you’ve been reading The Horophile for a while now, you will have no doubt noticed that I don’t cover chronograph watches very often. Not that I dislike the complication, I just find that the majority of chronographs on the market aren’t very original or compelling from both a design and functional perspective.

But every once in a while a chronograph comes along that does bring something fresh to the table. One such piece is the Arnold & Son CTB I got my paws on during Baselworld 2014 a few months back.

Arnold & Son CTB 5

Like the majority of Arnold & Son pieces, where the model names are simply initials for the watches’ complications, CTB stands for “Chronograph True Beat”. If you’re familiar with the brand at all, you will have no doubt come across the term “True Beat” in many of their watches like the TB88 and more recent DSTB.

The True Beat complication is more widely among horophiles as the “dead seconds”, where the seconds hand ticks in a quartz-like manner rather than sweep. For Arnold & Son, the inspiration comes from the marine chronometers John Arnold and his son built during the later part of his illustrious career, where sea navigation required exact, whole seconds to determine longitudinal positions.

Arnold & Son CTB 1

The CTB has two seconds hands centrally mounted on the same axis, one for the chronograph and the other perpetually running as the constant seconds. The constant seconds is the “True Beat” one, jumping in one-second increments, while the chronograph seconds sweeps normally upon activation.

Arnold & Son CTB 6

What makes the CTB such an interesting piece is the visual animation produced when activating the chronograph as the constant seconds is at the “0” position. To quote the press release, it’s like “a delightful and entrancing game of cat and mouse”, and that’s a pretty the best way of describing it.

But words are futile here, so I made a quick video to demonstrate it:

Even with its multiple patents, the CTB is an unassuming and aesthetically sober timepiece.

The round 44mm case, in either polished steel or red gold is definitely on the larger side of things, especially for a watch of this style. But like all Arnold & Son cases it wears smaller than you’d expect, feeling more like a 42mm piece since the case tapers down towards the wrist. The pump-style pushers are reminiscent of vintage and pocket-watch chronographs. The raised and domed sapphire crystal also lends the watch a certain retro appeal.

Arnold & Son CTB 4

Because the CTB is all about the seconds hands, the hours and minutes are placed on a multi-level off-centered silvered dial with roman numerals and skeleton hands, much like that of the UTTE ultra-thin tourbillon. The 60 minutes chronograph register is placed at 6 o’clock. The dial itself is a frosted silvery-grey on the steel version and silvery-whote on the red gold version.

Arnold & Son CTB 7

Arnold & Son CTB 2

The CTB runs on the in-house developed and manufactured A&S7103 caliber, a patented integrated chronograph movement with column-wheel, beautfilly decorated with hand-finished with radial “sunburst” Côte-de-Genève stripes, circular graining and manually chamfered and polished edges on the bridges. To match the case and dial combinations, the gold version’s plates and bridges are done in a more classical silver rhodium and fitted with flame-blued screws, while the steel version has anan edgier anthracite or “NAC” grey galvanic treatment with “natural” steel screws finished with beveled and mirror-polished heads. The movement delivers a power reserve of 50 hours without the chronograph running.

Arnold & Son CTB 3

Arnold & Son CTB 8

The Arnold & Son CTB comes with a price tag of $26,500 USD for the steel version $42,500 USD for the red gold.

More information on www.arnoldandson.com