In 2023, high-end independent Swiss watchmaker Armin Strom debuted one of its most transitional timepieces since introducing its first in-house caliber in 2010.
The One Week First Edition represents a new aesthetic for Armin Strom (and perhaps even a new direction for the brand), with an all-new case design and luxurious integrated bracelet, powered by a newly developed manually wound Swiss caliber — manufactured at the company’s manufacture in Biel/Bienne.
Compared to the recently released Orbit, which came with the company’s first integrated metal bracelet, the One Week has an even sportier case, with a more aggressive look that moves away from the strictly circular design, thanks to the addition of angular lugs and crown guards. When you couple great case proportions — 41 mm x 10.6 mm 46.2 mm (lug-to-lug) — with a rather good-looking tapered stainless steel bracelet, the visual result is quite compelling.
When you start looking at the architecture of the dial and the intricate finishing (with or without a loupe), you begin to appreciate not just the case but also the movement and details. This is a sports watch, with a screw-down crown, 100 meters of water resistance, and a robust shock-resistant construction — yet offers a finer level of watchmaking than your typical sports watch.
The movement finishing of the Armin Strom caliber AMR21 is more premium than most sports watches. For example, the edges of the bridges have been expertly beveled and polished by hand. The jewel sinks have been precisely drilled and internally beveled with a sophisticated CNC machine, then polished to a mirrored surface by hand. Geneva stripes with prominently defined lines on the rhodium-plated brass three-quarter gear bridge have been created using a hand-operated lathe, and the perlage decoration on the mainplate was produced by a skilled artisan using a hand-guided drill press — both processes completed without the aid of computer automation.
According to Armin Strom, “The One Week allows Armin Strom to demonstrate its fervent dedication to haute horlogerie hand-finishing. Straight and circular-grained surfaces, polished and chamfered bevels, perlage-grained plates, and polished screws and sinks are evidently applied by expert hands.”
The new 3.5Hz, 26-jewel manual-winding caliber ARM21 features two mainspring barrels that work in series to provide consistent levels of energy to the gear train — and that collectively help the watch achieve better than chronometer level accuracy across the entire powerband (from fully wound to unwound). Held by two pocket watch-inspired finger-style bridges, the barrels are symmetrically arranged and are visible on the right side of the dial. The 7-day power reserve is indicated by a cone system (visible on the dial side at 11).
As you can see, the openworked dial is complex and features multiple layers of depth, yet Armin Strom maintained a rather uncluttered appearance that functions rather well. Eschewing the off-center readout of other Armin Strom timepieces, large centrally mounted, luminous steel hour and minute hands bring the time to the entire dial, along with facetted, rectangular-shaped luminous hour markers, that set in sloped black chapter ring, and present a functional highly legible display despite the dial being skeletonized.
The small seconds subdial has a frosted black center, with a circular guilloche pattern on its sloped outer ring, and is printed with the second graduations. A baton-shaped steel hand, with a white lacquered tip, continuously sweeps this off-center dial every 60 seconds. At 12 on the small seconds dial is Armin Strom’s minimalist emblem stamped with silver paint, which is a perfect design decision keeping with the clean look of the rest of the dial.
Armin Strom’s design team gave the dial a light blue PVD-coated frosted texture paint job, which can be seen on the dial side of the mainplate, and the multiple dial side bridges, with the exception of the mainspring barrels, that have steel pocket watch style bridges. The light blue background layer contrasts perfectly with the black, blue, steel, and ruby-colored elements of the dial.
Completing the new look for Armin Strom is a luxurious stainless steel bracelet that’s been solidly CNC-milled and given polished center links that are surrounded by brushed surfaces, with the exception of hand-beveled and polished edges. This small detail sets the bracelet apart from lesser watches, and Armin Strom even added perlage (small concentric circles) to portions of the clasp. The double-folding hidden clasp operates in a way where you can hear the quality when it closes. There are half links to get a precise fit and the loaner I received fit my 7″ wrist perfectly upon arrival. However, for such a nice bracelet, having optional micro-adjustments would have been ideal.
Echoing the look of the bracelet, the case has a fine machine-beveled edge that’s been polished to offset the brushed surfaces. The 6.9 mm diameter crown does not dig into the wrist, though it’s a good size and features ridged edges which make it easy to operate. I did find the screw-locking mechanism was a bit too firm initially though it seemed to loosen up with extended use. Armin Strom’s emblem is engraved on the end of the crown finished with a matte texture on the lower surface area and polished on the raised portion, which is a detail that highlights the level of workmanship that went into every component of the One Week.
The One Week reads like a high-end sports watch such as a mainstream luxury sports model like the Royal Oak, Overseas, or Laureato, but with a level of artisanal detail more consistent with higher-end independent watchmakers.
When I first received the One Week loaner, I was worried that I would not like the new case design, particularly because of the crown guards, which I figured would be too prominent, however, in the metal, I quickly realized the guards are subtle and that aesthetic is quite refined on the wrist.
Some of the component edges showed minor imperfections (only under a high magnification loupe), but that’s the hallmark of something that’s been finished by hand — and it certainly adds character when the result is this good.
To me, the One Week represents an evolution of Armin Strom, where the company is now targeting a slightly different customer — that wants an elevated, contemporary sports timepiece, with authentic high-end watchmaking features like hand-beveled interior angles, luscious manually applied Geneva stripes, and hand-polished bevels on components such as the mainplate, jewel sinks, case, and bracelet.
Armin Strom’s One Week First Edition (Ref. ST23-OW.FE) is limited to 25 pieces, comes with an extended warranty good for 10 years, and retails for $34,000.
Learn more at Armin Strom.
Armin Strom One Week First Edition
Total Weight: 137.78 grams
Case Diameter: 41 mm (measured 42 mm/44.5 mm with crown guards)
Case Thickness: 10.6 mm
Lug-to-lug: 46.2 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown Diameter: 6.9 mm
Glass: flat sapphire crystal
Movement: caliber ARM21 (twin-barrels 168-hour power reserve)
Depth Rating: 100 meters
Bracelet: 22 mm/ 20 mm