Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire
The Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire features two independent movements and two independent time indications. By exploiting the phenomenon of resonance, the watch delivers incredible precision. Moreover, the movement is housed within a sapphire crystal case, necessitating protracted manufacturing. Angus Davies looks closely at this highly technical timepiece imbued with artisanal craftsmanship and matchless finishing. This detailed review of the Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire includes images, specification details and pricing.
Armin Strom is synonymous with skeletonised watches. Mr Armin Strom earned critical acclaim for skilfully openworking off-the-shelf watches. He would remove extraneous material while ensuring torsional stiffness was maintained. Each resultant creation was imbued with an almost diaphonous appearance.
In 2009, the eponymous company crafted its inaugural movement, the ARM09 calibre. This movement, used in the brand’s One Week Collection, signalled a new era. Armin Strom had become a Manufacture. Since then, the company has created numerous additional calibres, including highly desirable tourbillons.
Within the confines of its Biel / Bienne headquarters, the Swiss company makes plates, bridges, levers, springs, wheels and pinions. I have toured the company’s extensive facilities, where CNC and wire erosion machines sit cheek by jowl, and witnessed, first hand, skilled staff producing components to exacting tolerances. Indeed, I can attest that Armin Strom exhibits an impressive degree of in-house expertise.
At the heart of the company’s DNA is the free disclosure of movement components usually hidden from view. Indeed, for some time the brand advertised its products with the strapline, ‘we show what we make’. The brand eschews conventional dials, conveying the time with conventional hands in conjunction with off-centre hour tracks or subdials.
Now, the Swiss firm has chosen to bare even more of its soul. Once again, the Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire showcases movement components on its upper dial plane as well as housing the whole of the calibre ARF17 in a sapphire crystal case. Nothing is hidden from view, hence there is no margin for error. There are no hiding places for mistakes. Each facet of the watch has to be executed to a blemish-free standard. It would seem Armin Strom has chosen an arduous route to greatness, however, this Swiss company has never shied away from challenges.
The first thing to note with the Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire is that it is equipped with two completely independent hour and minute displays. Each display is powered by its own movement. By having two separate time indications, each presented in blue, the watch is able to display the time in two different locations simultaneously. This is particularly useful where the local time in one location has a 30 or 45 minute offset e.g. Calcutta is GMT + 5:30.
While this watch is conspicuously contemporary, the brand has enriched its specification with some classical elements. Armin Strom called upon esteemed watchmaker and guilloché specialist Kari Voutilainen to embellish each display with hand guilloché decoration. The resultant texture plays with light, suffusing the surface with discrete pockets of brilliance and shade. The lancine hour and minute hands are silver-toned and highly polished. Roman numerals denote each hour on a comparatively smooth track and each display is framed with a chemin de fer.
At the base of each dial is a power-reserve indicator. Each movement features two mainspring barrels linked to a cone and feeler system to accurately convey the state of wind.
Positioned between each display is a day-night indicator which is tied to movement 1. The central area of the indicator has been adorned with a wave-like guilloché motif.
Front of house
Two openworked balance bridges reach towards the centre of the upper dial area. These bridges are beautifully adorned with tremblage. Each balance is fitted with screws, set in board to mitigate air turbulence, hence aiding precision.
The two independent movements are brought together with Armin Strom’s ingenious clutch spring. When two bodies share a similar natural frequency and are positioned in close proximity, they move in sympathy with each other. This is the phenomenon of resonance. Armin Strom patented its clutch spring technology some time ago and has now incorporated it into several of its models.
A watch that employs resonance provides a number of benefits over a conventional timepiece. Firstly, resonance has a stabilising effect on timekeeping, enhancing precision. Furthermore, energy consumption is reduced and the implications of impacts are lessened, again aiding precision. When two COSC-certified movements were placed in resonance within a laboratory setting, the precision improved by 15-20%.
Beyond its technical merits, the clutch spring provides a visual feast for the delectation of the mechanically curious. The sight of the clutch spring moving upwards and downwards proves a fascinating spectacle. In addition, the wearer is indulged with sublime views of the pallet levers intimately kissing the elaborately shaped escape wheels.
Another aspect of this watch that will appeal to connoisseurs is the finishing of the movement. The mainplate sports a curving brushed finish. The clutch spring, which emanates from a centrally positioned plate, is adorned with perlage and sits atop a bevelled plinth. Every surface is refined to the nth degree.
The verso view
The calibre ARF17 is comprised of two movements, each with its own crown. These movements are hand-wound and equipped with two barrels each, providing 110 hours of autonomous operation.
The bridges are decorated with circular Côtes de Genève, the jewel and screw sinks are highly polished and the bridges sport gleaming bevels. Despite the modernity of this watch, traditional hand craftsmanship abounds. There are numerous internal angles, again indicative of time-served hands manually manipulating tools with notable aplomb.
When a crown is rotated, the ratchet wheel spokes rotate in one direction, while the spokes atop the spring barrel turn in the opposite direction. The resultant spectacle is fantastic, urging the wearer to turn one of the crowns just one more time. All mainsprings are visible beneath the spokes of each openworked barrel cover.
Two recessed areas are positioned either side of the spring barrels. Within each recess, a cone and feeler system can be seen. They appraise the stored energy held within the barrels (two for each movement) and convey this to the relevant power-reserve indicator. Again, the bridge spanning the recess incorporates internal angles, executed using hand applied files of varying coarseness.
The finishing on this movement is of the highest order.
While sapphire crystal is widely used within the watch industry, it is usually produced in flat or mildly cambered discs. When this hard material is used to form intricate, larger shapes, it presents many challenges.
Sapphire crystal rates 9.0 on the Mohs scale. Diamond, the hardest mineral, possesses a hardness of 10.0. Diamond-coated tools are used for cutting and milling the case components from large blocks of sapphire crystal or corundum. Thereafter, the case components are left to relax, allowing any heat generated by machining to dissipate evenly through the crystal. Afterwards, the crystal is polished in order to transform it from opaque to clear.
Owing to its hardness, the case is susceptible to chipping, cracking or shattering, hence the manufacturing process cannot be rushed. However, the resultant appearance of the sapphire crystal, and the views it provides, justifies the watch brand’s protracted efforts.
The Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire is a leviathan. It measures 59mm x 43.4mm (including the lugs). Interestingly, the lug to lug distance is no greater than a ‘regular’ Armin Strom model, allowing it to sit atop the wrist without annoyingly turning. The width is not a problem either, because the crowns are positioned out of the way and the wrist can still easily flex. I concede that some would-be wearers may be put-off by the case width, however, the scale of the watch does nothing to mar my appreciation of its crystal-like form.
The Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire looks unlike any other watch, save for its older sibling, the Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance. By providing two hour and minute indications, the wearer is able to simultaneously display the home time and local time precisely, even if one or both locations have an offset of 30 or 45 minutes.
There is no denying that this is an avant-garde timepiece, however, it encompasses time-honoured traditions such as guilloché and tremblage. Furthermore, the movement is enriched with flawless finishing some of which has been painstakingly executed by deft hands. Indeed, Armin Strom repeatedly remind the onlooker that this contemporary watch is a paragon of haute horlogerie.
The Swiss brand has stolen a march over its rivals. The patented resonance clutch spring confers a degree of precision which even surpasses the hallowed tourbillon. Moreover, the spectacle of seeing the spring hypnotically move up and down, pulsing with vitality, is something that I could never tire of watching.
Ultimately all roads lead me back to this model’s sapphire case. Some other high-end watch brands offer timepieces in a corundum case, however, these are usually smaller and less complex. The crystal-like body of the Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire necessitates an inordinate amount of time to realise, a fact which is reflected in its price. Nevertheless, its creation was a logical step for a brand which has always proclaimed ‘we show what we make’. And, in my opinion, what this company has made, is a timepiece par excellence.
- Model: Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire
- Reference: RGMT.11.AL.L.14.FC
- Case: Sapphire crystal; dimensions 59mm x 43.4mm; height 13mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres)
- Functions: Hours; minutes; power-reserve indicator (both displays) + 24-hour indicator for movement 1
- Movement: Calibre ARF17; hand-wound movement; frequency 25,200 VpH (3.5Hz); 70 jewels; power reserve 110 hours for each movement; 419 components
- Strap: Blue alligator strap with stainless steel double-folding clasp.
- Price: CHF 280,000 (RRP as at 8.2.2019)