Arnold & Son Luna Magna And Luna Magna Ultimate 1: Marbles, Moons, And Magnificence

Marbles are old, really old. The earliest known marbles date from around 4,500 years ago and were found in what is now Pakistan. They were from the Indus Valley civilization, one of the three main ancient civilizations of the Near East and South Asia – the other two being Egypt and Mesopotamia, where more examples of marbles have been found, often made from clay, stone, or glass.

Throughout most of the history of marbles, they were handcrafted one by one; it is hard to pinpoint when they first were manufactured en masse. Marbles have been popular for a long time – and seemingly disruptive to daily life, in one instance having play with them legally restricted to a set location outside of town in Nuremburg, Germany in 1503!

Their popularity has ebbed and flowed throughout the modern era with dozens of manufacturers dwindling to only a handful remaining today. Still, the game played with marbles has had a solid foothold for a long time; the British and World Marble Championships has taken place nearly every year in West Sussex since 1588.

Modern manufacturing techniques for marbles combined with waning interest by consumers has led to a consolidation in manufacturers and styles. Since automated production can now produce up to 12 million marbles a day, the more unique nature of old marbles has made them sought after by collectors.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna on the wrist

But that demand can’t possibly match the desire I have for a brand-new marble I just found inside – you guessed it – a watch. The Arnold & Son Luna Magna is a fantastical moon phase watch with a massive aventurine and white marble three-dimensional spherical marble moon, and I am simply in love with it.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna

Arnold & Son Luna Magna

A brand known for being horologically creative while also playing with aesthetics, Arnold & Son is a perpetual favorite for me as it has produced a plethora of amazing watches over the years. My favorites have always been the moon phase and astronomical pieces because Arnold & Son does them so well.

The now nearly iconic HM Perpetual Moon with a nearly full-dial moon phase display was previously my favorite until the Luna Magna came along because I am a sucker for three-dimensional moon phases.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna

The Luna Magna is a visually simple watch featuring a small hour-and-minute dial in white lacquer at 12 o’clock set onto a stunning dial of dark blue aventurine. That blue aventurine represents the night sky (fairly well, I might add) and provides a backdrop for the moon phase display.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna

The moon is a giant 12 millimeter-diameter marble rotating along the vertical axis to represent the phases of the moon, made from one hemisphere each of aventurine (for the dark side) and white marble (for the light side).

The entire presentation of the Luna Magna is about the moon phase, similarly to how the HM Perpetual Moon made its moon phase the star of the show. With the Luna Magna, the massive size of the marble makes the case a little bit thicker than normal, but thanks to a box sapphire crystal on the front and rear and a snug fit, the appearance feels way thinner than the actual 15.9 mm thickness.

Back of the Arnold & Son Luna Magna

The rear of the watch also provides functionality as it is here that the moon phase setting dial also found on the Perpetual Moon is located, this time in the center of the new Caliber A&S1021. You’ll also see the other side of the huge marble-and-aventurine moon poking out at the widest part of the movement. That movement is finished to the typically high standards of La Joux-Perret, the in-house movement maker for Arnold & Son.

Floating marbles

But even with a beautiful movement and an aesthetically pleasing design, the epicness of the watch is still built around the massive marble-and-aventurine moon. It was manufactured from solid blocks of stone (marble) and glass (aventurine), each machined very slowly and precisely and then fit together around a shared central pivot shaft.

Each hemisphere was polished to a shine before assembly, and the fit between the two halves is perfect: only high-resolution photos or a loupe do the craftsmanship justice. The decision to make it out of marble and aventurine and set it into a dial of aventurine is brilliant (and gorgeous) and really provides the feeling of a sliver of moon hanging in the night sky.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna

My pedantic side notices that the aventurine, which has gold-colored specs to emulate the stars, makes it seem like the moon is transparent and shows the night sky behind it during a new moon. But given how absolutely breathtaking the presentation is, I think I can forgive that small astronomical oversight.

Let’s say, though, that this fantastic watch isn’t fantastic enough for you, that it’s too bland or plain, what’s a collector to do? Arnold & Son has an answer for that as well: the Luna Magna Ultimate 1, a diamond-and-sapphire encrusted version that adds a whole new level of awe to the piece.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate 1: stones replacing stone

The Luna Magna Ultimate 1 is clearly designed for the bold and adventurous, but I honestly don’t feel it is overly blingy thanks to excellent use of stones and some restraint. The case of the Ultimate 1 is fully diamond set, but since the case itself was already fairly minimal, this results in a thin, dual row of invisible-set baguettes around the bezel and on the lugs. That’s it.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate 1

The offset dial has switched from white lacquered metal to a thin slab of white opal. The main dial is covered with tiny blue-treated ruthenium crystals, a platinum-group metal commonly alloyed with platinum or gold to create a bright luster (and making this dial sparkle). But all of that is the background to the spectacular spherical moon made out of white gold and completely gem set.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate 1

Shaped into two hemispheres separated by a wavy boundary, one half of the sphere is set with 161 brilliant-cut diamonds in various sizes sparkling as wildly as the moon, while the other half received another 161 blue sapphires to match the dial and represent the dark side of the moon.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate 1

The wavy boundary is likely both an aesthetic as well as a practical decision to accommodate a bunch of round stones without creating large and weird triangular gaps at the boundary, and I truly love this detail: it makes it more fanciful.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate 1

At this point we aren’t going to perfect astronomical duplication, so having fun and solving a stone setting issue is a great idea. The buckle on the strap is also diamond set like the case, but I feel that will sadly go unnoticed most of the time considering the moon phase display is as brilliant as this one. As gem-set watches go, this version of the Luna Magna has walked a bit of a tightrope and chosen to focus on the whole instead of the individual stones.

This is why the dial isn’t completely set with sapphires or some other stone: the appearance was more important than the number of stones and carats. To me, that makes the Luna Magna Ultimate 1 a dynamic success as a follow-up to the already amazing Luna Magna.

The two represent the more ethereal side of Arnold & Son since massive moon phase displays are almost entirely about emotion these days. I know that is why I love them so much and will always be excited when a brand I’m a fan of decides to do something new with the moon.

Back of the Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate 1

Given the popularity of the HM Perpetual Moon, among other incredible moon phase watches that have come out in the last half decade I’m confident the Luna Magna will become an enduring piece for the brand. It hits a higher price bracket than the Perpetual Moon, coming in at nearly three times the price, but it still packs a lot of value for people shopping for unique moon phase watches in that price range.

Since I love this watch so much I’ll be as gentle as I can as I break this watch down!

  • Wowza Factor * 9.7 For me, any three-dimensional moon is a wow, but one this big made of marble and aventurine – double extra wow!
  • Late Night Lust Appeal * 97» 951.245m/s2 What better place to lust over an incredible watch like this than late at night while watching the moon out your window!
  • M.G.R. * 66.7 La Joux-Perret movements are already top notch, and combine that with the workmanship of the giant marble moon and this one gets a truly strong rating. Hard to argue with such a piece of engineering!
  • Added-Functionitis * Mild This rating is a bit misleading because the small addition of one added function completely transforms this watch. But still, rules are rules, and you can rest assured you’ll only need children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the minor horological swelling!
  • Ouch Outline * 11.2 A cactus spine stuck in the bottom of your foot! While hiking through the desert with many cacti around, it would behoove you to pay attention to any random spines along your path. As someone who uses running shoes for hiking shoes (mobility and breathability are important to me) it turns out that cactus spines can go right through the soft foam of my sole, so into my foot it goes. Still, as painful as it was I’d gladly take it again for a chance to get the Luna Magna on my wrist!
  • Mermaid Moment * Oh, my moon! It never takes more than an instant to fall for a good moon phase, and this one is no different. By the time I laid eyes on it I was already making a playlist for the reception in my head!
  • Awesome Total * 988 Start with the diameter in millimeters (44) and multiply by the diameter of the 3D moon in millimeters (12), then add the number of stones set in the Ultimate 1 (460) for a completely out-of-this-world awesome total!

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Quick Facts Arnold & Son Luna Magna
Case: 44 x 15.9 mm, red gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber A&S1021, 90-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; moon phase
Limitation: 28 pieces
Price: CHF 43,900

Quick Facts Arnold & Son Luna Magna Ultimate 1
Case: 44 x 15.9 mm, white gold set with invisible-set baguette-cut diamonds (13.52 ct)
Movement: manually wound Caliber A&S1021, 90-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; moon phase
Limitation: 8 pieces
Price: CHF 169,000

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