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Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Air

Angus Davies reviews the Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Air

This detailed review of the Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Air. Ref. TI15-TA.50 includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Armin_Strom_Tourbillon_Skeleton_Air_dial1 - ESCAPEMENT magazine - watch reviews for purists by Angus Davies

 

The independent Swiss watch brand, Armin Strom, has an amazing knack of producing timepieces which cause my horological tastebuds to salivate. Currently, I am the proud owner of one of its exquisite openwork watches, the Gravity Water. Whenever I visit the brand’s atelier or handle its fine timepieces, I feel an overwhelming desire to make a further acquisition. Indeed, I feel sorry for my lone Armin Strom; it should not be an only child.

With the exception of rubies, mainsprings and hairsprings, the company from Biel/ Bienne painstakingly crafts all of the movement components found within its fascinating timepieces. This high quotient of vertical integration is remarkable, especially considering the size of the company.

Armin Strom’s impressive facilities include cutting-edge CNC machines and other high-tech watchmaking paraphernalia. Conversely, within other areas of the atelier, hand engraving and laborious manual polishing are practised, respectfully upholding the artisanal techniques prized by connoisseurs. Most notably, this maison bewitches fans of fine watchmaking with its enchanting skeletonised designs.

Recently, I was invited by Armin Strom’s personnel to experience a moment of intimacy with a new model, the ‘Tourbillon Skeleton Air’.

The dial

The Tourbillon Skeleton Air incorporates some design elements found on other Armin Strom timepieces e.g. the case ‘lip’, the 43.4mm case and the off-centre dial-ring. In this instance, the dial ring consists of a sapphire circlet, fitted with applied indexes, revealing more of the movement parts below. Manufacturing sapphire rings is incredibly challenging. During the production process, they will often break, resulting in much expense. However, once the transparent ring has been successfully made and positioned within the watch case, its on-going robustness is assured and the visual yield justifies the protracted effort.

Armin_Strom_Tourbillon_Skeleton_Air_tourbillon_cage - - ESCAPEMENT magazine - watch reviews for purists by Angus Davies

The ‘house-style’ luminescent hour and minute hands feature on the Tourbillon Skeleton Air. The prominent tips, found on each hand, confer excellent legibility. At 9 o’clock, a small seconds floats above the rotating tourbillon carriage.

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Armin Strom delivers a visionary approach to the presentation of time with the Tourbillon Skeleton Air. The two spring barrels are open-worked, revealing the mainsprings within and, by default, according the wearer a visual clue as to the state of wind. Moreover, the owner is invited to observe magnificent mechanical manoeuvres whilst winding the watch with each barrel enchantingly rotating like a ballerina on her toes.

Prospective purchasers are presented with a choice of four variants of the Tourbillon Skeleton; ‘Earth’, ‘Water’ ‘Fire’ and, in this instance ‘Air’. Each element denotes a specific case material and colour coordinated PVD treatment of the mainplate.

In the case of the Air, the titanium case is paired with matching dial detail to deliver a seemly grey-toned, monochrome vista. The numerous movement layers lure the wearer’s eyes to explore, resulting in a feast of delectable detail.

Some skeleton watches reveal the hirsute arm of an alpha male, appearing to magnify their body hair via the sapphire crystal. Thankfully, this Armin Strom sidesteps such indiscreet behaviour while providing a splendiferous sight of the movement’s strata.

The case

Despite the Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Air being a new model, placing it upon my wrist felt similar to meeting an old friend. The case design, save for the recently launched ‘Edge Double Barrel‘, conforms to the same design and dimensions as other models within the watch company’s range, including my own Gravity Water.

Armin_Strom_Tourbillon_Skeleton_Air_case - - ESCAPEMENT magazine - watch reviews for purists by Angus Davies

I find the 43.40mm case sits perfectly on the wrist. The case height of 13.00mm does not unduly protrude and neatly resides under a shirt cuff. This particular titanium case proves much lighter than my own steel cased Armin Strom.

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While I have never had any problems wearing my steel watch, it must be noted that titanium is the most hypoallergenic material known to man. It is the combination of size, shape and material which makes the titanium case of the Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Air truly exceptional.

Armin_Strom_Tourbillon_Skeleton_Air_Calibre_ATC11-S - - ESCAPEMENT magazine - watch reviews for purists by Angus Davies

The reverse of the watch upholds the frank demeanour of the dial, revealing a plethora of brushed circular forms and sparkling bevels via an exhibition caseback. I particularly like how Claude Greisler, a director of Armin Strom and its Chief Horologist, has designed the movement in such a way as to reveal the winding shaft, crown wheel and castle wheel. Indeed, it this repeated disclosure of parts which I find especially endearing.

Armin_Strom_Tourbillon_Skeleton_Air_crown_wheel - - ESCAPEMENT magazine - watch reviews for purists by Angus Davies

Armin Strom supplies the Tourbillon Skeleton Air with an optimally hued, grey alligator horn-back strap, paired with a titanium double-fold clasp. In addition, the watch is delivered with an additional grey or white rubber strap. The movement

The balance of the hand-wound Calibre ATC11-S has a frequency of 18,000 vph (2.5Hz) and is equipped with a Breguet Overcoil. This latter detail is indicative of the no-compromise specification ubiquitously presented.

The raison d’être for Abraham Louis Breguet’s whirlwind invention, the tourbillon, was to counter the adverse influence of gravity on the balance within a pocket watch and, by default, aid precision. Today, a prime motive for selecting this complication is the appearance the cage confers to the dial. Indeed, after a few moments with the Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Air, observing the cage performing its coquettish pirouette routine, I fell under its spell and uttered words of undying love.

Armin_Strom_Tourbillon_Skeleton_Air_caseback - - ESCAPEMENT magazine - watch reviews for purists by Angus Davies

A potential pitfall for any company which makes a skeleton watch, freely disclosing virtually every movement component, is that anything substandard is manifest and liable to elicit words of criticism. Thankfully, the finishing of each movement part on the Calibre ATC11-S has been executed to a matchless, blemish-free standard worthy of the haute horlogerie appellation.

Closing remarks

The Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Air proves highly legible, the 10-day power reserve obviates the need for daily winding and the case accords exceptional wearer comfort. The watch is created with a high degree of hand craftsmanship and the technical aspects of the movement proffer excellent precision.

Today, there are many fine timepieces available for the gratification of purists. However, where this particular watch stands out from the crowd, conferring a competitive advantage to the Swiss manufacture from Biel/Bienne, is by offering a unique open-worked aesthetic. Quite simply, this distinctive horological composition delivers a breathe of fresh air and would make a lovely sibling for my Gravity Water.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Armin Strom Tourbillon Skeleton Air
  • Reference:TI15-TA.50
  • Case: Titanium; diameter 43.40 mm; height 13.00 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds.
  • Movement: Calibre ATC-11S; hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz); 24 jewels; power reserve 240 hours; 184 parts.
  • Strap: Grey horn-back alligator leather strap supplied on a titanium double-fold clasp. An additional grey or white rubber strap is also provided.
  • Price: CHF 93,000 (RRP as at 8.7.2016)

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