|History of Arnold & Son
Founding place: London, United Kingdom
Founded by: John Arnold
Current headquarters: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland (or maybe London, United Kingdom)
Owned by: Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd. (or maybe Charles Frodsham & Co.)
Official name: Arnold & Son SA
The history of Arnold & Son is going to be a little bit confusing. As it seems that the brand name is kind of appropriated. The Japanese company Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd. has the website Arnold & Son on which they claim the company Arnold & Son was founded in 1764. The logo says “since 1764”. And according to their website in that year John Arnold made a ring containing a half-quarter repeater, which he presents to King George III, instantly creating a wealthy clientele.
But the same site claims that John Arnold opened his first workshop, in London’s Strand, in 1762. So than we would put “since 1762” in our logo. Besides all that, Citizen seems to have never bought the (remains of) the original Arnold & Son company. They might just use the name and history.
Wikipedia does not mention that anymore but older revision levels of that page show this: “It is necessary to point out that the brand name Arnold & Son, owned by Citizen of Japan since 2012, has absolutely no connection to the original firm founded by John Arnold. Indeed, one might characterize the use of the name Arnold & Son as a form of IP piracy. It should also be noted that the original Arnold watch company still exists and is owned by eminent British watchmaker Charles Frodsham, who acquired Arnold in 1843.” Perhaps the name was ‘free’, as a large enterprise like Citizen wouldn’t just hijack a company’s name. That might harm their reputation, so we think it is legally right but perhaps the moral site can be disputed.
Whoever owns the history, John Arnold is the founding father
John Arnold (1736-1799) was an English watchmaker and inventor. It is said that he was the first to design a watch that was both practical and accurate. But we could not find any evidence that he established a company in 1764. The story of his workshop in 1762 seems to be correct: in 1762 he meets William McGuire for whom he repaired a repeating watch. McGuire was impressed by Arnold’s skills and gave him a loan, enabling him to set up in business as a watchmaker at Devereux Court, Strand, London. But it would last until 1787 before Arnold & Son was founded, when John’s son John Roger (1769-1843) started to collaborate with his father.
In 1799, when his father died, he continues the business taking John Dent into partnership (between 1830 and 1840). In 1843, when John Roger died, Charles Frodsham (1810–1871), a renowned English watch and clock maker, took over Arnold & Son. He renamed it Arnold & Frodsham Chronometer Makers and in 1884 the firm became Charles Frodsham & Co. Which was probably the start of the “disappearance” of the brand name.
According to the Citizen website, the last sign of the company was in 1857, after which the history stops. Until 1995, when the brand was relaunched in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. We don’t know by whom, but it was sold to Citizen in 2012. And Frodham’s company? Well, they still exist as Charles Frodsham & Co. Ltd. From the late 1940s through to the ‘80s, they produced mantel and carriage clocks. The Company resided at various central London addresses, before moving to 32 Bury Street in 1997, where it continues today, specializing in English precision horology.
The history of Arnold & Son:
1736 – Birth of John Arnold probably in Bodmin, Cornwall
1762 – Opens a workshop in London
1787 – Son John Roger enters the firm
1787 – Founding of Arnold & Son
1830 – John Dent becomes a business partner
1843 – Charles Frodsham takes over the company
1843 – Name changes to Arnold & Frodsham Chronometer Makers
1884 – Name changes to Charles Frodsham & Co.
1995 – Relaunch of the brand in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
2012 – Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd. buys the brand
The full list of oldest watch brands in the world might interest you…