Today I speak with Serge Michel (Founder) and Claude Greisler (Co-Founder) who acquired the watch manufacturer Mr. Armin Strom in 2006, from the eponymous watchmaker Armin Strom (original Founder).

The art of skeletonizing, introduced by Mr. Armin Strom within the company in the eighties, is still a key element within the movement architecture of every timepiece they produce today. Armin Strom AG has been producing its own in-house calibers since 2009.

Based in Biel/Bienne – near some of the biggest names in watchmaking – Armin Strom is a small manufacture that specializes in dials with skeletonized designs, customization, and has one of the only working resonance timepieces on the market.

Claude, how has your watch customization feature that was launched in 2017 been doing?

Our configurator is doing very well. Our customers like to configure their timepieces. It gives them the possibility to see what we are able to do. At the same time, they get familiar with our different watches and price ranges. The feedback is very positive.

How much of your business is E-Commerce/Direct-To-Consumer?

E-commerce is not very big. Our customer is doing research online but they purchase offline. The touch and feel are still very important.

Claude Greisler, Co-Founder, Head Watchmaker
Claude Greisler, Co-Founder, Head Watchmaker

Can you share with Professional Watches readers any new products you have in the works?

We have launched the Resonance Dual Time just a few days ago. It is our first masterpiece. The watch is amazing. The design and the technique is very unique. We have pushed our skills very hard to reach such a great timepiece. Two Time zones, four barrels, two power reserve indications… and absolutely amazing finishing. You see, I am very proud of this piece 😊!!!

How is it working with Kari V on the dials?

Amazing. The work his company is doing is on a very high level. This is the reason why we have chosen his company.
There are more projects coming.

Do you still stay in touch with the company’s original founder, Mr. Strom?

Yes, we do still have contact during the year. He is living in Burgdorf (Switzerland) and he is taking care of his wife.

How important is it that you are a watchmaker Claude, and what are your duties?

It is very important to be a watchmaker if you are building up and managing a small manufacture. I am involved in all our different departments. From the design/development to fabrication, decoration, electroplating to the assembling. I believe that education as a watchmaker is the key for a successful career. I graduated as an engineer after watchmaking school, but I still use my watchmaking education every day.

What do you wear daily on your wrist?

One of my absolute favorite timepieces is the Skeleton Pure in stainless steel, this is also one of the watches I wear the most and for sure the Mirrored Force Resonance, a real watchmaking revolution.

What are some other passions you have besides watches?

When I’m not in the manufacture I’m exploring the mountains with my backcountry skis together with my wife. If there is a lot of wind you will find me windsurfing down by the lake in Biel.

How successful has the Mirrored Resonance been?

The Mirrored Force Resonance is very successful; this is also why you can find the watch in our innovative watch configurator where you can personalize your own timepiece. The history of Resonance is very old and we are proud to be now part of it.

Serge Michel, Founder
Serge Michel, Founder

Serge, what is your professional background?

Hotel management and marketing.

What do you think of the ongoing Baselworld dilemma?

I think what is happening is not only a phenomenon for watch fairs. Also other fairs from other industries are facing the same problems. What happened at Baselworld was certainly very drastic and sudden. Brands are focusing more on end consumers. The retailers are getting less important to most brands and retailers still expecting the brands to bring them the buyers by doing a lot of marketing efforts. This leads to shifting marketing budgets and as we all know, Baselworld is an expensive experience for all brands.

On the other hand, journalists get treated by the brands not only during Baselworld. Products are usually presented months before the show started or just anytime during the year. The use of online media changed communication with journalists too.

Who are your primary competitors? How are sales?

Our clients are looking for something special and unique. With our Resonance collection, we offer exactly this and there is only one other brand that offers a similar complication. This brand is aesthetically way more classic and serves a different clientele. Another unique selling proposition of Armin Strom is certainly our configurator where we reach out to a highly individual and sophisticated watch buyer.

What are your thoughts on the smartwatches?

We have to monitor the developments. So far I don’t see the essential use for everybody but nobody expected a bright future after the launch of the first cell phone neither… At least in Europe, I see more elderly people wearing a smartwatch (particularly an Apple Watch) as a statement to keep base with the newest technologies. But I can also see a younger crowd starting to get excited with mechanical watches.

What do you wear daily on your wrist?

My daily watch is a configured Skeleton Pure with the 18K rose gold edge case. I like the skeletonized movement of the Skeleton Pure in combination with the 46.80 mm case of the Edge.

What are some other passions you have besides watches?

My main passion besides my family and Armin Strom is traveling and wine tasting. Together with my friends, we visit at least one winery per year. One of my favorite wines comes from the Ribera del Duero region in the north of Spain – the Valbuena 5, from Bodegas Vega Sicilia.

Posted by:Jason Pitsch

Jason is the founder of Professional Watches and specializes in writing, product photography, and digital marketing.