Armin Strom unveiled the Tribute 1 timepiece in June and after seeing it in the metal earlier this month, we created a field report with hands-on images and our thoughts.
Unique within the current lineup, the Tribute 1 is the smallest men’s timepiece made by Armin Strom. At 38 mm x 9.38 mm, the stainless steel, time-only design wears like a dress watch or a watch from a different era — however, the aesthetic is assuredly contemporary.
In addition to offering a size that’s smaller than the popular 41 mm diameter Gravity Equal Force, Armin Strom pulled out all stops when finishing this timepiece. Hand beveling and polishing of the dial-side of each motor barrel bridge take 12-hours per bridge just to polish. The bridge is crafted from premium 18K white gold for the first 25 editions, and subsequent versions will utilize steel for the dial side bridge.
Look through the sapphire glass on the opposite side and you’re treated to an unobstructed view of the gear train bridge, which has been given thick deep-cut Geneva stripes via a hand-operated machine, and then expertly beveled and polished by hand all the way around the three-quarter plate — at an angle of 60° no less. A process that’s far more complex to execute compared to standard 45° bevels, and as a result takes twice as long. Even the polishing of the lance-shaped hands required extra effort thanks in part to the complex skeletonized construction.
Not only is the barrel bridge polished by hand — but the motor barrel itself has also been hand-finished with circular graining. On the top of the barrel, which houses a large mainspring, the words “ONE HUNDRED HOURS OF POWER RESERVE – MANUAL WINDING” are embossed and offset by a lighter-toned gray frosted surface just below the raised engraving. This subtle flex alludes to the massive 100-hours of maximum power reserve beneath.
Armin Strom’s manufacture caliber AMW21 has been embellished with hand beveled and polished embellished bridges, as mentioned above, as well as for the jewel sinks, and the balance and escapement bridges. The 33.5 mm x 4.2 mm movement has a free-sprung variable inertia balance system that beats at a rate of 3.5Hz. The 23-jewel movement has 135 total components and features a hand-wound design, however, unlike most manually-wound calibers this uses 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 a massive 100-hour power reserve — with only a single barrel.
When designing the case, the Armin Strom team wanted to really communicate the modern look and feel and repositioned the crown at 2 o’clock instead of 3, a decision that was made purely based on form, with no functional impetus related to the movement — although it does enhance the ergonomics of the wrist. A flat low-profile sapphire crystal protects the dial and maintains the contemporary theme. Not to mention, it makes the three-dimensional dial elements appear closer to you.
An off-center dial in a dark to medium gray hue (depending on the light) is distinguished by a circular guilloche pattern (azurage) and is contracted by alternating applied/faceted and white printed indices. The dial, which displays hours, minutes, and seconds, all on a central hand stack, is secured by two flat polished screws. The primary dial, also in dark to medium gray, and also secured by polished screws, most notably, features a handmade grenage treatment that results in an utterly gorgeous frosted texture. While the color of the subdial and main dial is almost the same, the differing surfaces — and a small 1-2 mm tall polished ring around the subdial — create a subtle contrast between the two.
Armin Strom has outdone themselves with regards to finishing for this special timepiece, and we hope to see more of their timepieces manufactured at these elevated levels. Each Armin Strom Tribute 1 is numbered “XX/25”, comes with a barrel bridge in white gold (as mentioned above), is paired with a gray Alcantara calfskin leather strap with a stainless steel double folding deployant clasp, and comes with a 10-year warranty. The asking price for a time-only watch is rather high, although you’re getting an in-house developed and manufactured truly Swiss-made limited-edition timepiece, and the finishing is really incredible.