The Geneva customisation expert, Label Noir, is true to its name, and many pieces emerging from the atelier are sheathed in black. The first collaboration between independent watchmaking company Armin Strom and Label Noir is this dark version of the Gravity Equal Force. Using Label Noir’s exclusive in-house Magma Moon Coating and other special surface treatments, the Gravity Equal Force takes on a dark, enigmatic presence.
Gravity Equal Force, Taming Power
When it was introduced in 2019, Armin Strom’s Gravity Equal Force was the world’s first automatic watch fitted with a stop-work declutch mechanism to ensure constant force transmission. Co-founder and head watchmaker Claude Greisler wrote a new chapter in horological history with his stop-work declutch mechanism; the Gravity Equal Force was the vessel chosen to deliver constant, consistent power in a mechanical watch. A problem common to all watches, the force that a mainspring can deliver as it unwinds can never be consistent because the force provided will be higher when fully wound and wanes towards the end of its power reserve. This fluctuation affects the rate of the movement.
To achieve an even flow of energy of force from the barrel to the balance, Armin Strom implemented a stop-work declutch mechanism usually reserved for top-tier manual-winding timepieces. To avoid the extremes of high and low torque periods, a stop-work mechanism stops the mainspring from fully unwinding and leverages the stage of the unwinding process when it can deliver consistent power. If you are interested in the workings of this mechanism inside the brand’s in-house calibre ASB19, Xavier’s article explains and illustrates it extremely well.
The Gravity Equal Force forms part of the System 78 collection – named after the birth year of co-founders Serge Michel and Claude Gresiler – and is intended to offer exceptional, innovative watchmaking at a more accessible price – at least, compared to the crazy complex Resonance watches. Furthermore, the look of the watch is an original fusion of old and new. The three straight parallel bridges on the right side of the dial evoke the architecture of pocket watches and hold the micro-rotor, the gear train and the barrel with its power reserve indicator in place. The openworked dial, with its off-centred hours and minutes disc with small seconds incorporated, corresponds to a more contemporary design language. Although we’ve covered the steel model with a blue dial and the luxurious rose gold model with a black dial, the latest Gravity Equal Force x Label Noir is the darkest member of the family.
Label Noir Finishings
Although the specifications and movement of the watch are unchanged, Label Noir’s experience with innovative finishings has resulted in a black, matte case and a dial with a dark, enigmatic landscape. The 41mm steel case (height 12.65mm), with its characteristic lip at 6 o’clock and large crown, is treated to a black Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon (ADLC) finishing that reinforces its hardness and ductility and gives it a smooth matte surface.
The off-centred hours and minutes disc positioned on the left side of the dial has been given the Label Noir treatment and features a grey snailed peripheral ring for the minutes and a raised black ring for the hours with clear white Arabic numerals. The hour and minute hands are black and treated with black Super-LumiNova. You’ll notice how both the minute and hour tracks are interrupted from 2 to 4 o’clock to offer a view of the gear train below. The centre of the disc reveals a grainy grey surface, while the recessed small seconds counter features a snailed interior. Before moving to the three bridges, it’s worth enlarging the size of the photograph to appreciate the dark, rugged surface of the background. Using Label Noir’s in-house treatment known as Magma Moon Coating (MMC), originally used on a previous project to replicate the Moon based on official NASA images, the black pitted surface on the Armin Strom watch is made using a laser to suggest the dark side of our neighbouring satellite.
Although Label Noir does not reveal the material used to coat the three bridges, they are blackened and brushed, and the smallest bridge hosts the Label Noir inscription. With the rugged black lunar background and the black openworked bridges, the rhodium-plated gear train, the barrel, and the micro-rotor stand out exceptionally well. One thing I did notice, though, is that the screws holding the bridges are not aligned like they are on ‘regular’ Armin Strom watches.
Automatic calibre ASB19
An exhibition caseback reveals the darkened calibre ASB19, an in-house automatic movement beating at 3.5Hz/25,200vph and delivering a power reserve of 72 hours. The micro-rotor and equal force barrel with its stop-work mechanism and power reserve indicator can be viewed from the dial. The caseback displays the high-frequency oscillator and the superb finishings, including black Geneva striped and brushed bridges and the black circular graining on the base plate.
Availability & Price
The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force x Label Noir is limited to 15 pieces. It will be available exclusively from Label Noir and retails for CHF 23,500.
For more information, please consult www.labelnoirdesign.com.