Claude Greisler, CEO and Technical Director of Armin Strom.
During his interview with Claude Greisler, CEO and Technical Director of Armin Strom, Angus Davies learns much about this brands mastery of resonance. In addition, Claude talks much about the Swiss brand’s future plans.
Whilst attending SIHH 2018, Claude Greisler, CEO and Technical Director of Armin Strom, graciously agreed to an interview with Angus Davies
My predilection for Armin Strom timepieces is well documented on the many pages of ESCAPEMENT. Indeed, some years ago I acquired a Gravity Water model from the maison and I have never regretted it. While some watches have come and gone, entering and then subsequently leaving my modest collection, the Armin Strom remains a horological stalwart.
Armin Strom is an independent watch brand based in the watchmaking haven of Biel/Bienne, a bilingual town located in the canton of Bern. Unusually for a small company, it is a manufacture par excellence, crafting every movement component, save for rubies and the assortiment.
The pièce de résistance of this brand’s models is the open-worked aspect of each watch they lovingly make. The Swiss watch brand eschews conventional dials, choosing to make the movement the horological backdrop for the proclamation of hours and minutes.
Despite the modernity of each model, traditional high-end craftsmanship is ubiquitously employed. While the watches are contemporary, they share the same exalted finishing as other long-established watchmaking companies.
In November 2016 at SalonQP, Armin Strom caused a storm with its breathtaking Mirror Force Resonance, a timepiece that delivers incredible accuracy, surpassing the precision of many watches equipped with a tourbillon escapement.
Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance
While attending SIHH 2018, I was granted the opportunity to sit down and have an interview with Claude Greisler, CEO and Technical Director of Armin Strom, and learn more about this brand and its future plans.
Interview with Claude Greisler, CEO and Technical Director of Armin Strom (CG) by Angus Davies (AD)
AD: What was your background prior to working at Armin Strom?
CG: Before Armin Strom I attended Watchmaking School in Solothurn, the only watchmaking school in the Swiss-German part of Switzerland. After I attended school in Solothurn, I attended The Engineer School in Le Locle. Initially, I studied watch restoration and watch complications for 2½ years. Thereafter, I studied watch engineering for another year in order to become a watch constructor. I worked for Christophe Claret for a few years as a watch engineer after which I joined the team at Armin Strom.
AD: What do you think makes Armin Strom special?
CG: First of all, one of the biggest differences with Armin Strom is that we don’t cover the movement with a dial. We have to consider how the movement will look dial-side. The movement is not merely functional but a key part of our design language.
AD: Where did you get the inspiration for the Resonance watch?
CG: The idea came from my time when I was doing watch restoration. I was very impressed by what clockmakers had done in the past. Indeed, when I studied restoration I mainly focussed on clocks. Antide Janvier was one of the finest clockmakers of his generation. One of his clocks, the double pendulum clock, employed resonance and shared the same suspension. It was one of my favourite clocks because it proved to be incredibly precise. I never forgot the phenomenon of resonance.
AD: When you design a watch in the first instance is it with pen and paper or on a CAD system?
CG: Always on paper. Funnily, my best ideas never come during a regular working day in the office. My best ideas come when flying on a plane, spending time in the mountains or while on holiday. If I have the time to think about new ideas, this is when I am most creative. In contrast, when I am working in the office, I have to deal with the day to day tasks of running a business.
I always ensure I have a notebook or paper napkin to hand so that if I have an idea I can make the first drawings.
AD: Last year (2017), Armin Strom launched the ‘Configurator’. Large companies would probably struggle to make watches to order but you are clearly managing production of bespoke watches very well. Do you envisage making more options available on the configurator for customers to choose from?
CG: Definitely. The Resonance will be added to the Configurator in February 2018. The purpose of the Configurator is to offer ‘upgrades’ to our watches similar to the ‘optional extras’ offered by luxury car marques. Our customers can choose whether they wish to use different colours, or alternatively make other upgrades to a standard timepiece.
AD: In a short time the Resonance watch has become a cornerstone of the Armin Strom brand. Could we see the Resonance watch being combined with various complications?
CG: Yes, of course. There is huge potential in having two movements in one watch, beating at the same frequency. Indeed, I feel there are many opportunities to build other resonance watches equipped with various complications.
AD: At present Armin Strom does not offer a chronograph in its collection. Can we expect to see a chronograph in due course?
CG: Definitely. We have already done some engineering work on chronographs, creating 3D drawings etc. However, when we came up with the idea of the Resonance and we saw how much potential it had we put other plans on hold. However, once we have further developed the potential of the Resonance we will move on to making other complications.
A fundamental aspect of Armin Strom’s brand DNA relates to the open-worked nature of its products. The movement is a key constituent of the display. The brand has to expend much energy, ensuring the movement is not only functional but that it also exhibits a handsome appearance. When everything is freely disclosed, there is no place for ugliness to hide.
Armin Strom clearly enjoys the benefits of being a small Manufacture. This has allowed the brand to nimbly meet its customers’ needs with its magnificent ‘Configurator’. While other companies would struggle to accede to individual client requests, Armin Strom possess sufficient flexibility to sate individual desires.
The Resonance was inspired by a clock mechanism of yesteryear, but has now been adapted to fit within a wristwatch. The shrinking of mechanical components will have presented an array of challenges. In addition, while a clock is held in a static position, a wristwatch is subject to numerous dynamic influences. The challenges Claude Greisler and his team will have encountered should not be underestimated. However, with perseverance Armin Strom released its Mirrored Force Resonance in November 2016 at SalonQP. This year (2018), the innovative watch company unveiled The Pure Resonance and, listening to Claude, it seems unlikely that the creativity will cease any time soon.
After my meeting with Claude Greisler, CEO and Technical Director of Armin Strom, I craving yet another of the brand’s watches. With the prospect of a chronograph arriving at some future point, I decided I had better start saving now.