Armin Strom’s first in-house tourbillon

April 2013

Having moved into its own “mini-manufacture” facility in the watchmaking city of Bienne in 2009, Armin Strom the brand has continued to forge its own path through the dense forest of Swiss watch companies. After presenting its first in-house movement in 2010 Armin Strom has proved that, despite its modest size, it is more than capable of standing its ground with the major players. The most striking example of this is the brand’s association with the Marussia Formula 1 team, which gives Armin Strom exposure on a level with that of the other, much bigger brands involved in the sport, such as Casio, Certina, IWC, Oris and TAG Heuer, as well as the venerable Rolex—the new Official Timekeeper of Formula 1 for 2013.

Armin Strom has now taken another step towards cementing its solid reputation in the industry by presenting its first tourbillon movement, which has been developed and produced entirely in-house. This new manufacture calibre has the tourbillon at 9 o’clock, comprising a solid-gold escapement and pallets with hardened functional areas and a screwed balance with Breguet balance spring. Its twin barrels offer a power reserve of 10 days for the manually-wound movement, which beats at 18,000 vibrations per hour (2.5 Hz). The production, decoration and assembly of each of the 184 components of the ATC11 calibre are all carried out within the Armin Strom workshops in Bienne.

FIRE, EARTH, AIR and WATER by Armin Strom
FIRE, EARTH, AIR and WATER by Armin Strom

A model for each of the four elements
The new tourbillon movement is presented in four different models, each designed around the theme of one of the four elements—Earth, Air, Water and Fire. The collection has been presented as part of a world tour whose four stops were chosen to highlight one of these elements. Europa Star witnessed the first presentation deep within the earth in the Swiss Alps, in the cellar of one of Switzerland’s few whisky distilleries, before the tour continued under the fire of the desert sun in Dubai and the airy heights of Singapore’s skyscrapers, finishing at the edge of the waters of the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles.

Following the tradition of Armin Strom, who has been skeletonising watches for over 40 years, each of the four models in the collection is skeletonised in a unique way that evokes the element that inspired it. Electroplating is also used to add different colours to the movement for each of the four models in combination with the different materials used for the 43.4mm diameter case.
In the Water model, the shimmering surface of the liquid element is reflected by 44 diamonds, 76 light blue and 169 dark blue sapphires set on to the decorated plate and bridges of the movement, which are visible through the open dial and the transparent case back against a yellow-gold background. An 18-carat white-gold case frames the sparkling movement and a dark-blue alligator leather strap completes the water theme.
For the Fire model, an 18-carat red-gold case and red-gold plating on the movement evoke the necessary heat, while ornate hand-engraved flames on the bridges and plates underscore the fire theme. This piece is rounded off by a brown alligator leather strap with a folding clasp in 18-carat rose gold.
On the Earth model, the decoration uses a material that is so inextricably linked to the earth that the type used in pottery, in English at least, includes the planet in its very name: “earthenware”, or ceramic. In this case, the ceramic is in polished black and recalls the earth more directly with the planisphere engraved on the plate visible through the case back. The black ceramic combines with the black minute track, black PVD steel case and black alligator leather strap to produce a very sombre piece.
Titanium was the natural choice for the case of the model designed to convey the lightness of air. For this Air model, the plate and bridges of the movement have been entirely skeletonised by hand in the finest Armin Strom tradition, elegantly revealing the two barrels on both sides of the case, as well as all the mech-anical links between the winding crown and the tourbillon, so that the owner can marvel at the operation of the whirlwind at 9 o’clock. The sense of lightness is reinforced by the light tones of a white minute track and matching white alligator leather strap.

FIRE, EARTH, AIR and WATER by Armin Strom
FIRE, EARTH, AIR and WATER by Armin Strom

A very exclusive debut
With each of these tourbillons having such a distinctive character, each equally appealing in its own right, it could be difficult to choose one’s preference. Armin Strom has thoughtfully negated this problem by introducing this collection as a series of four special “coffrets” (presentation boxes), each containing one of each of the four models. The collector who acquires one of these will be spoiled for choice (especially as each model also comes with a separate rubber strap matching the colour of the alligator leather strap), but with only 16 models in total set to be shared by the four purchasers, these models will undoubtedly be highly sought after. At least, that is, until Armin Strom ramps up its production of the new movement, after which, we are sure, the inevitable series production models will follow.

Source: Europa Star February - March 2013 Magazine Issue