In celebration of ten years since revitalizing the namesake company after acquiring it from the original founder, the current owners of Armin Strom created a limited-edition timepiece that truly embodies the know-how of the manufacture.
Based in the famous watchmaking town of Biel/Bienne — Armin Strom is a low-volume independent watch brand that produces high-end mechanical timepieces that show off the components in a way that pays homage to the founder, Armin Strom, who was renowned for his ability to skeletonize timepieces to perfection.
Since Serge Michel and Claude Greisler purchased the company from Armin Storm in 2011, they’ve not only given the brand a more contemporary vibe — while honoring the original roots in skeletonization — they’ve also developed unique horological innovations, such as the motor barrel design featured in the new Tribute 1, which I’ll explain further below.
Today, Armin Strom is debuting an all-new timepiece that “reinterprets the classic dress watch in a contemporary context.” Presented in a stainless steel case, measuring 38 mm x 9.38 mm, the Armin Strom Tribute 1, shows off numerous of the Swiss company’s specialties — all in a relatively small package. Further enhancing the comfort of this classically sized dress watch, the crown has been positioned at 2 o’clock instead of 3, which also adds to the contemporary aesthetic.
“We’re the heirs to a long tradition of manually-wound dress watch design at Armin Strom; but like much of the rest of the market, we had moved away from that,” said Greisler. “Over time, this became a source of deep regret for me — and I was ultimately inspired to do something about it. I’ve been obsessed with every detail of this timepiece, particularly when it comes to finishing. Hand polishing the dial-side of each barrel bridge takes over 12 hours to complete. To make the inaugural iteration even more special, we chose to produce that bridge in solid white gold. The gear train bridge on the backside is beveled and polished at 60° — a process that’s far more complex to execute and as a result takes twice as long. The polishing of the hands that I designed for this watch was also extremely time-consuming. The barrel is hand polished and provides 100 hours of autonomous operation. The Caliber AMW21 is adorned with Côtes de Genève, the jewel sinks are polished to a gleaming conclusion and the mainplate is circular-grained. The balance cock and the stepped escape wheel cock deliver a three-dimensional allure, while their edges are hand beveled to convey an overall sense of luxury.”
Driving the time only hour, minute, and center second hands is in-house developed caliber AMW21 that’s a 3.5Hz, 21-jewel manually wound movement that has 135 total components and measures 33.5 mm x 4.2 mm. It uses a sophisticated variable inertia balance system, with a flat hairspring. An unusual motor barrel design, that allows the arbor to turn around the mainspring within the barrel itself, makes the power distribution more efficient — and stable — while conserving space. This results in a rate that’s both more precise and that offers an impressive 100-hour power reserve, with only a single barrel.
A concentric circular guilloche pattern distinguishes the gray offset time dial from the grenage (handmade frosted treatment) surface of the primary dial, which is in nearly the same hue — but set apart by the different finishes. Both dials are secured by polished screws. The barrel bridge, that’s visible on the lower section of the dial side, is made of 18K white gold instead of stainless steel (future models will be in stainless steel). This pocket-watch-inspired bridge has been completely beveled by hand and then polished by hand, including the countersink that holds the jewel with which the motor barrel pivot meshes.
The dial is protected by a low-profile flat sapphire crystal, keeping with the modern theme, and maintaining a lower profile than a highly domed crystal. The caseback also has a sapphire crystal, so you can admire the large Geneva stripes on the three-quarter gear train bridge has been beveled by hand at 60-degrees, the circular graining on the ruthenium-plated (dark gray) mainplate, as well as the brushed balance bridge, which like the motor barrel bridge on the dial side, has been hand beveled and polished. The perimeter of the movement side has a frosted gray surface, with embossed lettering, further adding to the intricate finishing techniques that owners will be able to enjoy each time they peer into the exhibition back.
“Years ago, we were told by almost everyone that there was no economic model that could possibly justify a low-volume independent bringing all of its fabrication in-house,” said co-founder Serge Michel. “The equipment is expensive and it requires a lot of physical space. We followed our passion and did it anyway. And that decision paid off. We’ve since come to the conclusion that following our horological passions will probably eventually make financial sense, even when we can’t articulate exactly how that will play out. Fortunately, we have the luxury of taking risks and following our passion. The ‘Tribute 1’ isn’t just a manifestation of that passion, it’s a ‘tribute’ to it. It’s simultaneously our tribute to the classic Haute horology dress watch, adapted with a modern aesthetic sensibility.”
Each Armin Strom Tribute 1 is numbered “XX/25” and comes with a barrel bridge in white gold (as mentioned above), and is paired with a gray Alcantara calfskin leather strap with a stainless steel double folding deployant clasp. This limited edition comes with a 10-year warranty, which is double the company’s standard warranty.