At MONOCHROME, we love independent watchmaking. This has always been one of the main topics of our magazine. And this has also been reflected in our choices when creating what we’ve named our Montres de Souscription. Following the success of the MdS1 with Habring² and the MdS2 with Czapek, we’re proud to introduce our third watch, by teaming up with independent watch brand ARMIN STROM. A timepiece that fulfils our passion for an artisanal, low-volume approach to watchmaking but which is also true to our long-time wish to educate watch enthusiasts about the art of horology, the MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 3 is a warm, discreet and traditional take on ARMIN STROM’s acclaimed Gravity Equal Force watch, envisioned with a movement made of a material cherished by collectors, maillechort or German silver.
Frank Geelen, founder of MONOCHROME: The Gravity Equal Force is a true watchmaking lesson on the wrist, a watch that makes it possible to understand how a mechanical watch works. It has always been my wish to educate our readers on the art of watchmaking.
Since the launch of the first Montre de Souscription in 2021, we’ve taken great pride in creating watches in collaboration with some of our favourite independent watchmakers. Our third Montre de Souscription remains true to this vision. We chose the Gravity Equal Force as our working base. Presented in 2019, the GEF demonstrated the company’s core principle: to bring innovation to every watch. It combines the brand’s celebrated passion for exposed mechanics – what we love to call watchmaking lessons on the wrist at MONOCHROME – and its distinctive design as well as its commitment to redefining the horological landscape with every new model.
In this instance, the Gravity Equal Force integrates an innovative mainspring barrel (the motor barrel) to deliver a stable driving force to the regulator. It is the world’s first automatic watch featuring a barrel with a Maltese Cross that stops the barrel when the mainspring driving force is too low, a factor that compromises a stable amplitude and rate.
A material never seen in the Gravity Equal Force
The GEF has made quite an impression on watch enthusiasts, including the MONOCHROME team. For this Montre de Souscription, we wanted to combine this cutting-edge technology and distinctive look with our monochromatic vision of design, as well as bring it into a more traditional, almost historical sphere. Using the Gravity Equal Force entirely open-worked structure as a canvas for creativity, we’ve decided to make the movement’s main plate, visible through the dial and on the back of the watch, made of the most traditional material possible, maillechort or German silver. While most movements are now made of brass, German silver was the alloy of choice in the early days of horology. Nickel silver, maillechort or German silver, despite its name, does not contain the element silver. It is named due to its silvery appearance and is a copper alloy with nickel and zinc. It has been used only once by ARMIN STROM, for a unique piece, the Resonance Zeitgeist made in 2021. It has been a great source of inspiration for us and we wanted to introduce this captivating combination of colours and materials in the Gravity Equal Force.
There were multiple reasons behind the choice of this material. First of all, its muted tone, specifically when combined with a hand-applied frosting, suits our vision of monochromatic watches. Secondly, it is one of the most traditional materials in watchmaking, creating a subtle contrast with the modernity of ARMIN STROM’s Gravity Equal Force. Last, as some watch enthusiasts know, maillechort will slowly gain a patina, moving from a silvery tone to a light gold hue. This, in due time, will create a striking contrast between the cold, technical architecture of the GEF and the warm, historically-inspired colour of the movement.
In order to draw as much attention as possible to this material, which has never been used in the GEF, we decided to remain as subtle and neutral as possible with the rest of this Montre de Souscription 3. All technical elements of the movement, which are visible dial side, are rhodium-plated, thus matching the discreet tone of the stainless steel case. The three finger bridges, a striking element of the Gravity Equal Force, display an incredible level of finishing, with multiple hand-polished bevels, including a series of sharp inner angles, something that is a testimony of the manual work done by the finisseur. The entire watch, from front to back, is finished and decorated by hand to a level that few others can rival, specifically in this segment.
This muted look continues with a white opaline open-worked, off-centre dial for the hours and minutes, as well as the small seconds sub-dial. In order to improve contrast and legibility, the hands have been coated in dark grey ruthenium and filled with Super-LumiNova. With this conception, we’ve made sure to retain an unobstructed view of the fascinating mechanics inside the case, while providing enough contrast day and night. Like the rest of the watch, the hands are meticulously hand-finished in-house. The final touch comes from a colour-matched grey Alcantara calf leather strap, securing the 41mm x 12.65mm stainless steel case to the wrist with a signed pin buckle.
With a watch like this Montre de Souscription 3 Gravity Equal Force Maillechort, we need to spend some time talking about the mechanics. What makes the in-house conceived, developed, manufactured and decorated Calibre ASB19 special is its commitment to exposed mechanics, with most parts of the movement clearly visible dial side, as well as the ingenuity of its conception, relying on solutions unique to this collection.
The first automatic movement with stop-work mechanism
The whole idea behind the movement in the Gravity Equal Force is centred around a “stop-work” device, a mechanism well-known from hand-wound watches. ARMIN STROM’s co-founder and master watchmaker Claude Greisler insisted on adding a stop-work declutch mechanism to an automatic winding movement for the first time in the history of horology. This device prevents the mainspring from fully unwinding, thus leveraging only the part of the mainspring’s operating range that can deliver power most consistently. The history of watchmaking has seen many solutions developed to address this problem, but none have ever been applied to a watch even remotely close in price to that of the Gravity Equal Force, and even more when talking about automatic movements. In keeping with the mission of the System 78 collection to democratize access to haute horology timepieces, the extraordinary value proposition of this watch extends to the exceptional hand-finishing of its movement.
Wound by a dial-side mounted micro-rotor and building upon the classic stop-work mechanism architecture, its Calibre ASB19 offers a power reserve of 72 hours, while it stores even longer but less stable energy – the rotation of the mainspring barrel is limited to just 9 full turns out of a possible 12 and a half. The more stable the delivery of energy, the better the chronometric results will be.
The Motor Barrel
This development was also the occasion to re-engineer the whole barrel construction, opting for a “motor barrel.” Traditionally, the barrel is wound by turning the arbour to put the spring under tension. This tension causes the barrel to turn in the opposite direction. It meshes with the first pinion of the gear train to drive the watch movement. This architecture is known as a “going barrel”. But another solution, known as the motor barrel consists in winding the mainspring by turning the drum rather than the centre arbour. The centre arbour then rotates to drive the gear train. The functions of the arbour and barrel are therefore reversed.
This movement beats, as often with the brand, at a rate of 3.5Hz or 25,200 vibrations/hour and is equipped with a stop-seconds mechanism for accurate time-setting. The sapphire back offers an unimpeded view of the beautifully finished movement and its hand-decorated parts with large Geneva stripes, polished screw heads, bevelled screw slots, chamfered wheel spokes and large, hand-applied anglage displaying a multitude of sharp inner angles. The naturally warm colour of the German silver main plate is equally visible through the exhibition caseback.
Availability and Price
The MONOCHROME x ARMIN STROM Montre de Souscription 3 Gravity Equal Force Maillechort will be a limited edition of 33 pieces, available to pre-order exclusively from the MONOCHROME Shop on September 7th, 2023 as of 3PM (Central Europe Time).
Pricing will be EUR 22,900, excluding taxes, and includes free insured international shipping and a five-year warranty from Armin Strom. Taxes will apply to clients purchasing from Europe. When ordering the watch, a non-refundable deposit of EUR 7,500 will be required. The remaining EUR 15,400 plus the applicable VAT for your country will be charged when the watch is ready to be shipped. The watch will be shipped from Europe and deliveries are expected as of Q4 2023 and should be done before the end of this year.
If you have questions regarding the MONOCHROME Montre de Souscription 3 or if you want to show your interest in this watch, please send us a message using the form below or drop us an email at [email protected].