Watches: Arnold & Son TB East India Company Set

By Thierry Ané on November 18, 2013

Receiving its Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth in the year 1600, the East India Company is surely the most famous and powerful trading organization that profited from the trade expansion between Europe, the Americas, India and China to build a commercial empire.

Essentially involved in the trade of basic commodities like cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, tea or opium, the Company owed it supremacy to an impressive fleet of heavily armed ships that were also regularly used by the Royal Navy.

In order to pay tribute to these legendary vessels known as the East Indiamen, Arnold & Son introduced three magnificent and highly collectible watches as part of the East India Company Set. Only 28 lucky watch aficionados will be able to add this stunning set to their collection.

Part of the Instrument Collection, these three timepieces are powered by the rhodium-treated A&S6103 calibre that we have already discussed for the TB Victory watch. It celebrates the “dead beat” seconds, an intriguing complication that is now only found in very few high-end timepieces but was once essential to maritime navigators: ticking instead of sweeping, its seconds hand makes a distinctive stop on each second marker making it possible to accurately count them. The off-centre hours and minutes display, characteristic of the Instrument Collection, together with the generous size of the case (44 mm) makes this model the perfect showcase for the brand’s mastery in decorative arts.

While the TB Victory revealed how gifted Arnold & Son’s engraver artisans are, the East India Company Set highlights the expertise of the brand’s miniature hand-painters.

Adorning the dial of each model is a meticulously hand-made miniature recreating an 18th-century English maritime work. The three original paintings can be admired at the National Maritime Museum in London. Arnold & Son’s know-how in the art of painting miniatures is definitely not new. A quick glance at the Hornet World Time James Cook Set (Antartica, Botany Bay and Hawaii) that the brand issued a few year ago is the only reminder needed. However, one can’t help but wonder at the dexterity and infinite patience of these artisans who build up entire images one tiny brushstroke at a time! They have absolutely surpassed themselves this time: the richness of detail is given even greater emphasis here by the reflection of the light in the depth of the mother-of-pearl dials.

The East India Company Set is just another exquisite release by a brand that never stops impressing me. With a lot of hard work they have entirely rebuilt their Royal and Instrument collections to offer timepieces that combine technical achievements with aesthetic perfection. My only complaint with this new set is that these superb timepieces are not sold separately! The set is too much for me (money I mean, not watches!). Why don’t I have two watch-lover friends ready to share a set with me?