It’s funny how one watch can begin an almost obsessive fascination with a brand. For me, the piece that piqued my interest in Arnold & Son, a brand I’ve been covering a lot here, is the TB88.


You see, I have a thing for open-worked watches. My problem with the majority of skeleton watches is that they always look spectacular in display cases, but on my pasty and hairy Middle-Eastern wrist they just don’t work. There’s nothing more revolting than a backdrop of sweaty pores and hairs to an otherwise beautiful piece of mechanical art.  So my only option to admire the inner workings of a watch on the wrist is to go for an open-worked watch with an “inverted” movement. Problem is, there aren’t all that many of them; at least not without tourbillons (and the 6 or 7 figure price tags they come with).

Luckily for me, a new contender entered the arena almost two years, the sumptuously symmetrical Arnold & Son TB88. In this post I’ll take you through the two new variants released at Baselworld last year, in rose gold with a light grey movement and steel with a more anthracite movement.


Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t quite get the names behind Arnold & Son’s watches. The TB88 however is pretty simple to decipher. “TB” stands for True Beat, a kind of escapement complication where time is measured in one-second increments (basically a “dead” seconds”) thanks to the use of a single-pallet design instead of a regular pallet fork. Aside from producing that quartz-like motion of the small seconds hand, there is some historical significance of the true beat escapement, as John Arnold incorporated it into some of his marine chronometers and pocket watches to allow navigators to accurately determine the longitude.


The “88” is a tribute to John Arnold’s first-ever pocket watch which bears the case number 88. In the TB88, the 88 takes on a more tangible meaning with its balanced layout of the two barrels, balance wheel and small seconds indication. And while the TB88 might be a far cry from what we’d consider a classical watch, its movement is inherently English in its architecture, with straight cut bridges (16 in total) for each pivoting element. The movement is given a more a more contemporary look with its light grey or anthracite treated bridges and main-plate. The two manually wound barrels held by angled bridges provide a power reserve of 100 hours.



But what really blows me away with Arnold & Son’s pieces and especially the TB88 is the beautiful hand-decoration and attention to detail. The hand chamfered and polished edges, the mirror polished screws, and even the faceted hands which are polished on one side and satin brushed on the other make it a true haute horlogerie product. Also notice how the wheels and balance match the case material in each version.




One aspect that I’m sure many of you will frown at is the generous case size. At 46mm wide, the TB88 is far larger than your typical dress watch. But keep in mind that the case actually tapers down towards the caseback, so in reality it feels more like a 42mm on the wrist. Unlike other watches that are big for the sake of being big, the TB88’s movement takes up pretty much all the interior space and thus a larger case was a necessity.


At the price of 36’200 CHF (around $40’000 USD) for the steel version and above $50k USD for the gold versions, the TB88 is certainly not cheap. But I bet if this exact watch were made by another more established high-end maison, they would be charging a heck of a lot more. The unique architecture, the true beat escapement and “dead” seconds, and the exquisitely finished movement make it all worth it in my book, more so than a lot watches in this segment.

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And in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past year or two, you have to check out my friend Watch Anish’s photoshoot of the TB88 and other Arnold & Son pieces here.