As some of you may know by now I enjoy modern watch brands, which don’t only focus on the traditions of watchmaking and technicality but also explore new designs and time-telling techniques (hence my love for companies like Urwerk, HYT etc.) but I also love a classy watch look, something timeless that would still look good and up-to-date in 100 years. However I frequently find myself thinking ‘I can pay 30’000 dollars on a timepiece, and all I will see on the dial is the hands and numbers’. Of course you might not agree with me here, and say that a simplistic design does it for you much better than something fancy, but I like to look at the watch and have it look back at me. Why am I saying all this? It’s because as an introduction to Armin Strom (if you haven’t heard of the brand yet) I want to show you what I think is the main strength of the brand.
Armin Strom takes its roots back in 1967, when near Bern (in Switzerland) a watchmaker (Mr. Strom) has opened his shop selling other brands’ timepieces. At one point he decided to play around with one of the pocket watches and changed the dial to a less boring one – the upgraded piece sold instantly. That got him thinking, and soon decorating and skeletonizing watch movements and dials became his specialty. He was working with some famous firms creating limited editions until it struck him that ‘Armin Strom’ needs to be a brand of its own. So since then and until 2011 (when Mr. Strom retired) he was the one looking after the company and creating new movements and watches.
The company today is located in Bienne, and even while being a small manufacturer it still does all of the latest collection movements in-house. As I am not that great with technical watchmaking aspects I would rather show you some photos and a video of the manufacturer, so that you can see how the watchmakers do their job ?
As I said already – Armin Strom’s specialty even today is creating partially or fully skeletonized timepieces that really look back at the wearer, and expose the entire movement on the dial side. Of course not every watch is complex, and therefore for the more simplistic pieces you wouldn’t see as much on the dial as with a tourbillon. Nevertheless, here is the first of today’s watches I want to show you, which is the ‘Manual’. Being the cheapest (around $10’000) and most basic in Armin Strom’s collection it still looks pretty badass! Displaying the barrel at 1 o’clock and the offset seconds at 9. A thing about their watches (take note here) is that most of them are split into 4 categories: Air, Water, Earth and Fire. It isn’t hard to distinguish between the elements looking at the strap, dial and case color (and material). In this case we are looking at the ‘Water’ element (hence the blue strap).
Next watch I will take a look at is called ‘Gravity’. It’s an automatic brother of the ‘Manual’. Now, with a more skeletonized dial we can see the micro rotor at 5 o’clock, and a barrel just above it. Armin Strom is actually also very focused on the power reserve (my own observation), as even a simple model like this already has a 5 day power reserve, which is not very usual for pieces like this.
Moving up the ladder, we have the ‘One Week’ watch, and as you could’ve guessed ‘one week’ stands for the 7-day power reserve. This time the dial is even more skeletonized and we also can see a power reserve indicator next to the seconds. Just like other models this one exists in 4 variations, and a 100 models limited edition.
Now that we’ve seen these ‘basic’ models here is the one I like most of all – the tourbillon! To be honest I never thought there is much more brands can do to personalize a regular tourbillon, but this time I was proven wrong, because the fully in-house made movement looks just stunning. The tourbillon itself (located at 9 o’clock) reminds me of a space shuttle and really grabs your attention. Power reserve for this one has grown even bigger – 10 days, and for a price of around $75’000 I think this in-house beast deserves a little bit more exposure ?
As tourbillons of Armin Strom are more complex pieces and the brand wants to keep them more exclusive they are limited to 50 watches per model, as well as 4 sets of 4 unique pieces with diamonds and hand decorations on the dials. But moving to the next watch collection – Armin Strom is also very closely associated with racing, and especially Formula One (and that only awesome Russian car – Marrusia), so it would be a shame if it didn’t reflect in the watches. The Racing collection features 5 different models, 2 of which are all in-house made. Here is a version of the ‘One Week’ power reserve created in the Racing style. To me the only missing thing here is a chronograph that would help time the races.
So this was the latest collection and the presentation of the horological house of Armin Strom for you guys! I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and picked up a thing or two about their watches. I have some top-secret info for their latest creations that they will present during Baselworld next year, and for obvious reasons I won’t say what they will be exactly, but I can give you a couple of hints: Poker and even more skeletonizing ? Now we just wait for March and see what they deliver!
More resources about Armin Strom Factory Visit on the Official Armin Strom Website.