Arnold & Son: Nebula 38 In Steel16 March 2020
Following the launch of the red-gold version, Arnold & Son presents a new variant of Nebula 38 in steel.
The name “Nebula” was chosen because the sculptural movement driving this timepiece evokes an inverted star that has exploded in an ideal orderly fashion, with all the bridges converging from the outside of the dial towards the centre, like perfectly symmetrical rays. In terms of complications, the Nebula 38 belongs to the family of three-handed watches indicating the hours, minutes and off-centred small seconds. Lastly, in terms of complexity, this timepiece constitutes one of the most graphically striking, high-impact and original skeleton watches.
The Nebula 38 pushes mechanistic aesthetics to such an extreme that its movement has become its very identity. The structure of the A&S5101 calibre is based on carefully considered symmetry. Seven bridges span the four axes that cross the Nebula 38, creating a sense of visual balance. Meanwhile, the proportions are communicated by the dimensions of the steel case: a diameter of 38 mm for a thickness of 8.91 mm, with a domed sapphire crystal on the dial side and a flat sapphire crystal on the case back.
On the dial side, the Nebula 38 enumerates its components explicitly, almost didactically: a double barrel bridge, crown bridge, balance bridge, geartrain bridges… everything is clear, visible and structured. While all these bridges dialogue with each other on opposing axes within the movement, the functional elements also adhere to this mirrored design. The small-seconds function at 7 o’clock, for example, is twinned with the balance. While technically different, these two blocks adopt similar shapes to perfect the movement’s sense of equilibrium. The harmony is plain to see, as all the bridges, plates and solid components are openworked.
This construction was far from easy to devise, however. Arranging the structures of a skeleton movement in a ring facing inwards is an utterly unique approach. Furthermore, to maintain the sense of symmetry, Arnold & Son moved the winding mechanism linked to the crown stem to the case back, giving it an unusual position that is entirely justified for the overall aesthetic coherence it procures. In spite of this, the Nebula 38 was designed with practicality in mind, as it presents a 90-hour power reserve that is rare for skeleton models.
The characteristic Arnold & Son style shines through in the masterful play on contrasting surfaces adorning the Nebula 38. The house has used a variety of colours, finishes and levels to ward off any risk of illegibility. The bridges are thus all the same height on the dial side, while on the case-back side, a large sapphire crystal reveals a mainplate that has been openworked to the extreme. Its design features several criss-crossing arcs, with intersecting circles and ellipses that are reminiscent of a Gothic cathedral’s vault.
Ergonomic yet technical, the new Arnold & Son Nebula 38 Steel is combined with a calfskin strap and available at the price of CHF 13.500.