Armin Strom Lady Beat – part two
The new Armin Strom Lady Beat harnesses the vast technical expertise of the Swiss Manufacture. However, as Angus Davies discovers, this new watch also celebrates femininity with its sensuous lines and curvaceous contours. Most pertinently, like all of the brand’s models, this latest creation is worthy of the term haute horlogerie.
Since Armin Strom opened its Manufacture in 2009, its name has become a byword for horological excellence. An increasing number of watch aficionados are drawn to the firm’s ingenious models and distinctive design language.
Beyond the technical merits of the brand’s creations, including its Equal Force and Resonance models, the Swiss marque has made a point of revealing numerous components normally hidden from view. This disclosure of parts has necessitated Armin Strom executing components to a blemish free conclusion. While the firm makes contemporary watches, it also employs traditional hand craftsmanship, enriching the appearance of parts with sublime finishing.
Historically, Armin Strom has made watches primarily for men, however, with the advent of the Lady Beat, the Swiss firm has entered a new market segment, namely, ladies’ watches. Sometimes brands patronise women by taking a mediocre design and pairing it with vivid dial hues, a garish strap or a few minuscule gems. From the outset, Armin Strom knew it would never adopt such an approach. Indeed, as I mentioned in my previous article (part one), Claude Greisler was eager to work with an all female design team to ensure the model fulfilled the desires of female wearers.
Some companies believe that ladies don’t want mechanical watches, preferring a quartz-powered timepiece. Armin Strom does not subscribe to this opinion. Indeed, the Manufacture is a specialist in making in-house mechanical movements, rich in detail and bursting with emotion. The Armin Strom Lady Beat is equipped with a self-winding movement, making it ideal for daily wear.
Like the gents’ models, the Lady Beat showcases various movement components dial-side and to the rear. Moreover, it shares the same exalted levels of finishing as the brand’s masculine products, again befitting the term ‘Haute Horlogerie’.
The inaugural versions of the Armin Strom Lady Beat are available with a choice of black or white dials.
Consistent with other Armin Strom models, the hours and minutes are positioned off-centre on a dedicated circular dial. The dial features plump leaf-shaped hour and minute hands, but eschews indexes to deliver a very clean, uncluttered display. The surface of the dial is embellished with a fluted pattern emanating from its centre and increasing in width as it approaches the extremities of the display. Two polished screws hold the dial in position. These not only serve a practical purpose, but reinforce the brand’s ethos of making functional items a design feature.
The rim of the off-centre dial is polished, adding a bewitching brilliance to the display. Armin Strom has positioned the dial atop a crescent-shaped plate. Again, it is adorned with a fluted motif and, similar to the aforementioned display, it is secured with two prominent screws. It also includes a polished leading edge. By adopting this approach, Armin Strom has imbued the dial with layers and depths, heightening the overall aesthetic appeal.
Three bridges project from the right side of the case, continuing the model’s play with depths. These bridges share a strong family likeness to those found on the System 78 Gravity Equal Force, albeit they assume different roles.
The upper bridge supports the variable inertia balance which is equipped with four regulating screws. Ordinarily, the balance wheel is located to the rear of the watch, however, by positioning it to the front of the watch it affords views of the balance wheel oscillating to and fro. Furthermore, the wearer can also enjoy views of the hairspring pulsing with life. This dial delivers a sense of theatre with numerous performances taking place simultaneously.
The middle bridge, adjacent the crown, affords partial views of the crown wheel and castle wheel, while the lower bridge sits atop the barrel.
All three bridges are polished by hand and feature straight graining on top with gleaming hand-bevelled edges. Once again, the bridges are secured with visible screws, reaffirming the brand’s fondness for open and honest design.
An increasing number of female consumers wear mens’ watches, drawn to their sizeable proportions. The Armin Strom Lady Beat measures a generous 38mm in diameter, but remains resolutely feminine.
While the dial and bezel are circular, the case has a subtle spheroid profile. This design element makes the case appear more gentle and feminine than a simple round shape. The strap is integrated into the watch head, conferring a sense of neatness. Furthermore, this mitigates the sense of scale when the watch is worn, making it feel smaller than its stated 38mm diameter.
The bezel is satin brushed on top, with highly polished sides. Armin Strom has chosen to present the upper case surfaces in highly polished form and the sides in satin brush. By juxtaposing these alternative forms of surface treatment, everything is tempered, subtle and refined.
Even the design of the crown is optimally shaped to allow ease of manipulation.
The Armin Strom Lady Beat is not an ultra-thin watch, however, it remains neat, measuring 11.65mm in height and thereby delivering an unobtrusive wrist fit.
To the rear of the watch, a widescreen exhibition caseback indulges inquisitive eyes with fascinating views of the self-winding movement, the Manufacture Calibre ALA20.
The Manufacture Calibre ALA20 features a full-size winding rotor, embellished with the same fluted design as the aforementioned dial motif. The rotor runs in a trottoir, helping to mitigate the height of the movement (8.34mm).
The bridges are embellished with circular Côtes de Genève, while other components are brushed. Even the screws sit in polished sinks. Put simply, this movement is hand-finished to the highest order.
Unusually, the movement has a frequency of 25,200 vph (3.5Hz) and is fitted with a variable inertia balance. Cheaper watches often feature a curb adjuster. This is where the rate is altered by effectively lengthening or shortening the length of the hairspring. A variable inertia alters the rate by tightening or loosening screws on the rim of the balance wheel, altering the moment of inertia and thereby the rate. This latter approach delivers superior precision.
Another benefit of a variable inertia is that if the balance is subject to a small shock, it is less likely to require remedial regulation.
Should the wearer remove the watch from their wrist it will run autonomously for 70 hours.
The off-centre dial shuns unnecessary adornment, delivering a clean, pure aesthetic. This approach aids readability and contributes to the model’s prepossessing looks. In addition, Armin Strom has positioned different elements of the main dial area at various heights, augmenting visual interest.
Claude Greisler and the female design team have endowed the design of the watch with a spheroid case, crescent shaped details and incorporated tasteful episodes of fluted patterns. All these elements imbue the styling of the Lady Beat with a palpable sense of femininity.
The design of the watch tastefully employs sensuous lines and curvaceous contours to glorious effect. However, unlike some ladies’ watches, it sidesteps obvious clichés such as tiny gems, mother-of-pearl dials or pink tones. Indeed, the Armin Strom Lady Beat is a serious watch, rich in horological virtue, yet elegantly feminine.
Armin Strom has not abandoned its principles. This latest watch upholds the brand’s strategy of ‘showing what it makes’, with numerous parts openly revealed. The balance wheel, located at 1 o’clock, is like a metaphor for life, constantly moving and pulsing with energy. Indeed, this horological performance transcends the functional, engaging with the wearer and delivering a high quotient of emotion in the process. This timepiece doesn’t just fulfil a need in a perfunctory manner, but showcases the beauty of time-served hand craftsmanship.
The Lady Beat is a shining example of Haute Horlogerie. It delivers feminine aesthetics, optimised ergonomics, mechanical excellence and matchless finishing. Moreover, it demonstrates that fine watchmaking is not the sole preserve of men.
- Model: Armin Strom Lady Beat
- Reference: ST20 – LAB
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 38 mm; height 11.65 mm; sapphire crystal to front and exhibition case back
- Functions: Hours; minutes
- Movement: Calibre ALA20; self-winding movement; frequency 25,200 VpH (3.5Hz); 20 jewels; power reserve 70 hours
- Strap: Bi-material rubber and Alcantara in satin white or black
- Price: CHF 16,900 including 7.7% VAT (RRP as at 20.10.2020)