After completing his watchmaking apprenticeship in 1755, John Arnold left England for Holland to sharpen his watchmaking skills. Upon his return two years later, he spoke fluent German, which would serve him well in the future. By his mid-twenties, he had established his reputation as a watchmaker in London.
By 1764, John Arnold earned an audience with King George III by presenting him with a ring, featuring a half-quarter repeater. The King loved the piece and presented Arnold with 500 guineas. It is said that the Emporer of Russia offered him 1000 guineas to duplicate it, but he refused.
In 1771 Arnold presented a marine chronometer to the Board of Longitude that he could produce for only 60 guineas. They swiftly awarded him £200, the first of several grants he received over the years. Arnold’s first chronometer traveled to Madagascar with Admiral Sir Robert Harland of the Royal Navy. A John Arnold Marine Chronometer No. 3 accompanied James Cook on his second voyage of discovery to the Pacific in 1772.
Arnold produced the most famous of his timepieces in 1779. His pocket watch No. 1/36 was acclaimed for its precision. Arnold published his results titled “An Account kept during Thirteen Months in the Royal Observatory at Greenwich of the Going of a Pocket Chronometer, made on a new Construction.” The term “chronometer” consequently became general currency and is still used today to indicate mechanical timepieces tested and certified to meet specific precision standards.
John Arnold retired in 1796, leaving his son John Roger Arnold in charge of the company. An accomplished watchmaker in his own right, having studied with the renowned French watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet.
After John Roger Arnold’s death in 1843, Arnold & Son is continued by Charles Frodsham, a renowned English watchmaker, until mid of the 19th century. Arnold & Son went dormant after that until its relaunch in 1995.
Who owns Arnold & Son?
Arnold & Son is owned by the Manufacture La Joux-Perret, an independent mechanical movement manufacture.
In 1857, an Arnold & Dent No 4585 chronometer accompanied Dr. David Livingstone on his expedition to South Africa.