Armin Strom Racing Gravity – Hands-on review (live photos, specs & price)
Identity is a brand’s main objective. Look at a Rolex and you’ll recognize it at first glance. Same goes for a Ferrari or a Louis Vuitton bag. Identity is the key to be seen as a brand, to stand out of the crowd and to make people know about your products. Even if its introduction is recent (2006), Armin Strom proved us to have such an identity, to have products recognizable among every others and to manage a coherent collection with clearly defined design clues. Here is a superb example of this identity, the Armin Strom Racing Gravity, fully reviewed here for you.
Usually, when it comes to explain Armin Strom watches, it always ends up with the concept of the 4 elements. Most of the timepieces created by Armin Strom are declined in 4 tastes: fire (pink gold case, dark dial, gilded parts in the movement, brown strap), water (stainless steel case, silver dial, blue tips and blue strap), earth (full black PVD stainless steel case, black dial, black strap) and air (titanium case, white or grey dial and strap), as we already explained it to you when introducing the Gravity Collection. However, one collection sets an exception, with bridges and plates made from original motor block of an F1 car, carbon inserts on the dials and straps and a black colour scheme.
So, the Racing collection adds some more Formula 1 taste to a package that actually remains very close from the rest of the collection. The strength of Armin Strom is to offer a single design, highly recognizable and to differentiate timepieces with special movements. All of the watches proposed by Armin Strom have common features: off-centered dial, skeletonized movements (the specialty of the manufacture before creating the brand itself) and a case with a protruding strip at 6 (used for personalized engravings, such as the owner initials).
The Armin Strom Racing Gravity is clearly a sports watch. It has this sporty feeling in its design, in the colours used and in the materials employed. The size and the design do not sound like the restrained elegance of a tuxedo watch (like a Piaget Altiplano). Features are also simple (on the paper) as we’re in front of a time-only watch: hours and minutes on the central axis and small second at 9 o’clock. It could be that simple by only looking at the functions, but in reality, the movement got way more to tell than only time, as it comes with plenty of pleasant details and specifications, realized with pretty good watchmaking skills.
Case and strap
The Armin Strom Racing Gravity comes with the brands usual case, declined here with a new colour scheme. The case measures a solid 43.4mm x 13mm and is made of both titanium (for the bezel and the caseback) and black PVD stainless steel for the central part of the case (as you can see on our photos, the case bands and the lugs are coated in black). Considering the size, the use of a case fully in titanium could be welcome as it is lighter that steel, more resistant to scratches and PVD works simply better on titanium. The caseback is made of sapphire crystal in order to let the owner admire the movement.
One thing that could be improved is the water-resistance, limited at 50 meters. Not that the Armin Strom Racing Gravity should be seen as a dive watch, but considering the sports watch feeling, a 100m rating could be useful and safe in case of misadventure.
The strap also participates to the racing / Formula 1 feeling, with its carbon inserts on the central part. It is made of thick alligator leather and comes with a black PVD pin-buckle (a double-fold clasp in black PVD stainless steel is available on option). However, thickness is no issue here as the strap is flexible and curves well around the wrist.
Dial and hands
The dial – at least what used to be a dial – is the main attraction of the Armin Strom Racing Gravity. It allows a view on all the technical elements of the movement without disturbing time reading. One of Armin Strom’s typical feature is the off-centered dial, slightly moved on the left side of the face of the watch. The space left on the other side is filled with a plate engraved with the logo of the brand and hold in place by two screws. The hours and minutes are indicated by two large hands, generously filled with luminous material. Time can be read on an external black chapter ring, finished with a concentric pattern. Considering that the Racing Gravity is a skeletonized watch, legibility is good thanks to this large and polished hands that pops out from the base plate of the movement.
As said, this Armin Strom is a skeletonized watch, meaning that the opened dial allows a view on technical elements. The small second at 9 is also opened to show the first and second wheel, as well as the escapement wheel. The right side of the watch also reveals interesting technical elements, such as the barrel at 1 and the micro-rotor at 5. Both are hold in place with superbly finished opened bridges, coated in dark grey, with a circular graining on the top and large shining beveled angles. All these finished elements are contrasting with the rough main plate made of a unique material. Which leads us to the movement.
The movement of the Armin Strom Racing Gravity is no stranger to us, as we already reviewed it when handling the Armin Strom Gravity Water. In its review, our contributor Max said: “The calibre AMR13, an in-house movement, has 32 jewels and 171 components. It uses a variable inertia balance, the free sprung balance variety, which means the balance is regulated only by screws on the balance wheel, versus a smooth balance wheel that uses a regulator to shorten or lengthen the balance spring. The balance spring has a Breguet spiral curve (or overcoil) to improve its isochronism, or equal rate of coiling and uncoiling. This is old school watch making. Recalling artisan watches of yesteryear, the movement beats at a slower 2.5Hz, which allows for an ample power reserve of 5 days.” The only default is the lack of a hacking second mechanism. On the other hand, finishing is superb, with polished beveled angles on the bridges and the wheels, graining on the gears or black polishing on flat surfaces. Some nice traditional watchmaking.
A very cool feature is the use of a micro-rotor to wind the watch but on the dial side, allowing an attractive and dynamic feeling while wearing the watch. Another interesting detail is the use of bridges made from original motor block of an F1 car, totally coherent with the context of a racing watch. This is all due to Armin Strom’s partnership with the Russian Formula 1 team Marussia.
Armin Strom comes with another of its creations, totally imprinted with the brand’s DNA and identity. However, the context of racing and Formula One is pushed quite far with the interesting use of real F1 parts in the movement – engine should be more appropriate – and carbon on the strap. Armin Strom is good in the game of creating new editions, with a proper atmosphere, without being reluctant with the rest of the collection. Finishing is very good for such a sports watch and comfort on the wrist is excellent regarding the robust dimensions. The movement is both technically interesting and superbly finished.
The Armin Strom Racing Gravity is a limited edition of 50 pieces and comes at a price of 16.500 Swiss Francs.