The concept of resonance is somewhat of a watchmaker and physicist’s dream, which has shown to be extremely difficult to materialize in reality. First demonstrated by Dutch mathematician, scientist and horologist Christiaan Huygens in 1665, the list of watchmakers to have successfully worked on resonance is extremely short – Breguet and Janvier in the past, and more recently Haldimann, Journe, Halter and, of course, Armin Strom. The brand took the watch industry by surprise in 2016, when revealing its innovative take on the concept, conceptualized with an unprecedented resonance clutch spring. Today, it’s time for the next generation of this watch, a streamlined version of the Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance.
The basics of resonance, and Armin Strom’s take
Resonance is one of the most unexpected and striking phenomena in all physics. Through resonance, a comparatively weak vibration in one object can cause a strong vibration in another and two oscillating bodies in close proximity influence each other and eventually synchronize. The concept was first observed by Dutch mathematician, scientist and horologist Christiaan Huygens, who reported an odd phenomenon, as two of his recently invented pendulum clocks hanging from a common wooden beam were oscillating in perfect consonance. The phenomenon has fascinated many watchmakers over the years, though resonance has rarely been attempted, let alone mastered. The list of watchmakers to have successfully worked on resonance is extremely short. It includes past masters like Astide Janvier and the great Abraham-Louis Breguet.
In modern days, very few watchmakers have worked on this resonance concept. One of the firsts was François-Paul Journe, with its Chronomètre à Résonance watch. Journe started working on resonance in the mid-1980s with pocket watch movements, and released its first wristwatch with resonance in 2000. His concept was to build two independent movements in one calibre, with the two regulators in close proximity and with one of the two balance cocks that swivels, in order to finely adjust the distance between the two oscillators so that they will function “sympathetically” to achieve greater chronometric precision.
Armin Strom, with the 2016 concept, has pushed the concept further, by implementing a new element into the equation; the resonance clutch spring – an element that, to simplify, works as Huygens’ wooden beam. While there are still two independent sets of barrels, gear trains and regulators in Armin Strom’s watch, there is indeed a mechanical connection between them, as they don’t act entirely freely. In-between then is a thin, complexly-shaped steel part named clutch spring, connected to the balance spring studs. The two balance wheels get coupled by the tiny vibrations in the spring. This revolutionary, patented mechanism get the two oscillators to synchronize while making their revolutions in opposite direction (just like Huygens’ pendulums). The two balances find a concurrent rhythm in opposite directions so as to continuously average out errors for maximum accuracy.
Most previous developments to take advantage of resonance have been focusing on the adjustment of the distance between the two regulators. Here, the clutch spring bridges directly the two balance wheel studs, enhancing the propagation of vibrations and the synchronization of coupled oscillators. Crafted in steel, a traditional horological material, this monobloc spring is manufactured by wire spark erosion with tolerances of 5 microns. It has a stabilizing effect on timekeeping and it takes no more than 10 minutes for the two balance wheels to beat into symmetry. In case of a shock, it takes only a few minutes for the two oscillators to become synchronized again. Finally, there’s a pusher at 2 o’clock that reset the running seconds so they beat in synchrony for even more visual pleasure.
The new Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance
Following several new models with redefined design language, such as the Gravity Equal Force, the Tribute 1 or the recent Orbit Date watch, Armin Strom launches a new version of its Mirrored Force Resonance with a streamlined, more elegant design with a newly designed case, movement and dial. This new take on the watch was somehow announced last year with a unique platinum and maillechort piece, the Zeitgeist.
Compared to previous editions of the Mirrored Force Resonance, the 2022 update brings a more refined, more streamlined and more slender look that is more in line with the brand’s current collection. Still measuring a sizeable 43mm in diameter (that resonance movement is large), the case is now thinner at only 11.55mm in height. Made of stainless steel, it combines a raised sapphire glass box that reveals the movement with more clarity, slimmer and more elegant lugs and a very discreet lip at 6 o’clock – a signature design element of Armin Strom that has been reduced in size. The watch is worn on a dark blue alligator strap.
Through the new sapphire box crystal, one can look at a well-known but redefined movement. The architecture is identical, at least in the large picture. As such, the time is still indicated on the right side of the dial, with a large off-centred element with hours and minutes. This display is framed by two openworked seconds dials, with triple-arm hands – which, as said, can be reset and synchronized by the pusher at 2 o’clock. Finally, the main element of this watch, the two regulators and the resonance clutch spring are on full display on the left side of the dial.
For the occasion of this newly designed Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance, the two balance bridges have been openworked for more visual harmony between the two synchronized balanced wheels and the off-centre dial. The mode you see here is the so-called “First Edition” and bears a unique combination of steel and dark grey. The sub-dials are done with matte and azuré finishings over black gold-coloured dials. The openworked hands are polished steel and made by hand, inside Armin Strom’s manufacture in Biel.
Turning the watch over you’ll discover the newly designed movement. Again, the technical base remains unchanged, but the execution is unprecedented and quite spectacular. A series of sharp, angular raised bridges feel like suspended on top of the movement. Underneath, as a nod to the golden age of precision marine chronometry, the engraved and darkened main plate outlines the specific characteristics of the Mirrored Force Resonance in raised text. Highlighting the fact that the ingenuity of the Resonance is having two movements beating in sync with independent energy sources and gear trains, the symmetry of the movement is accentuated with its mirrored arrangement of open bridges and gears. The movement also features a new redefined decoration, with wider hand-polished chamfers on the bridges and countersinks and a mix of satin-brushed and mirror-polished surfaces.
The movement itself, or actually the two movements merged into a single calibre, is large with a 37.20mm diameter. The two barrels can store up to 48 hours of power reserve and the regulating organs beat at a 3.5Hz frequency. Other mechanical features have been updated in addition to the architecture and re-engineered movement, such as the ratchet wheels and pawls that now take their inspiration from those found in pocket watches and provide a smoother tactile experience when winding.
Availability & Price
The Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance First Edition is a limited model with a production of 25 pieces. It shows a number of details that are unique to this inaugural series, yet the overall re-design of what has become Armin Strom’s most evocative creation will be back later in more classic editions. This Mirrored Force Resonance First Edition will be priced at EUR 61,600, USD 59,000, CHF 58,000 or GBP 52,100.
For more details, please visit the official Armin Strom website.