Armin Strom is a well-established independent watchmaker that excels in various levels. Firstly, it is an integrated manufacture producing most of the parts in-house. Secondly, it has the ability to create impressively complex watches. Thirdly, although the brand is historically associated with engraving and skeletonisation, it now has a strong, modern design DNA that is immediately recognisable. But what you see today is something entirely different for the brand. Armin Strom is on a mission to reinterpret the classic dress watch in a contemporary context. The result: the Tribute 1, a new collection with a minimalist, modern style, a compact, thin case and a beautifully executed high-end movement in typical AM style.
The name Armin Strom refers to the founder of the eponymous brand, a man who was incredibly skilled in openworked movements and engraving. Specialised in watch restorations and hand skeletonising, he even earned a Guinness World Record in 1990 by creating the world’s smallest hand-skeletonised watch for ladies. The owners of the brand since 2006, Serge Michel and Claude Greisler, have injected an impressive dose of watchmaking expertise into the name Armin Strom, as well as a strong and evocative design DNA. In recent years, the pair has managed to create superb watches, such as the revolutionary Mirrored Force Resonance, or its version with an additional Minute Repeater.
For its latest creation, the duo has decided to simplify things to the max – at least visually. Mechanically and in terms of finishing, the new watch remains an Armin Strom through and through. “We believe that exceptional hand-finishing, presented in the context of a modern aesthetic design sensibility, is the key to a modern dress watch revival,” said Claude Greisler. Indeed, the new Armin Strom Tribute 1 is an unprecedented collection for the brand with a mission to revitalise and bring the dress watch back on the scene. Today we’re looking at the “First Edition” of this AM watch.
So, what is this Armin Strom Tribute 1 all about? To make it short, it is a compact time-only model with a typical Armin Strom design, yet downsized and toned-down to bring the desired elegance expected in a dress watch. It is also a collection that inaugurates a new ultra-thin in-house calibre that is refined in its execution without compromising its specifications.
Starting with the case, the Armin Strom Tribute 1 “First Edition” is housed in a compact, very comfortable and discreet stainless steel case with a diameter of just 38mm. The design, which is more spartan than classic AM watches, retains some distinctive elements, such as the “lip” at 6 o’clock (drastically reduced in size). The lugs are also familiar and were used in the Gravity Equal Force. Together with the thin polished bezel and the straight, angular casebands, they provide this Tribute 1 with an interesting mix of modernity and restrained elegance. But not with classicism – which was certainly the intention.
The Armin Strom Tribute 1 isn’t only compact in diameter, it is also thin and can be worn under a cuff. The case, with alternating brushed and polished surfaces, measures only 9.38mm in height. The unusual location of the crown at 2 o’clock gives this watch a distinct personality. Sapphire crystals are placed on both sides of the watch and water-resistance is rated at 50 metres.
In order to complement the contemporary look of the case, Michel and Greisler have chosen to equip the Tribute 1 with a casual, tone-on-tone strap, which matches the colour and the texture of the dial. It is closed by a double-folding deployant clasp, and despite being relatively thick, the strap is supple and comfortable. And due to the small dimensions of the watch, it is, as expected, extremely comfortable to wear.
The dial of the Armin Strom Tribute 1 is minimalist, but with a twist. It plays with textures and reflections, and its off-centred display makes a clear break from the usual classicism of dress watches. Time (H-M-S) is displayed in an off-set dial with a very fine concentric pattern on the top left side of the watch. In contrast, the rest of the dial has a rough-grained surface providing a bold and contemporary touch. The star of the show is definitely the large barrel, which sits proudly on the lower right side of the dial. It is held in place by an openworked finger bridge, a recurring theme in Armin Strom’s design language. To make the inaugural iteration even more special, they chose to produce the bridge in solid white gold. Both elements are entirely hand-finished, including the 60° anglage on the edges of the bridge. The thin openworked hands are also hand-polished and made of stainless steel.
Powering this watch is the calibre AMW21, a newly developed hand-wound engine with a focus on beautiful execution, thinness and a solid power reserve. Measuring 33.50mm in diameter, it fills the entire back of the watch, yet it is only 4.20mm in height. Thanks to an unusual motor barrel – the arbour turns around the mainspring within the barrel itself, making it more efficient while conserving space – the movement boasts a robust 100-hour power reserve. It also features a variable inertia balance wheel running at a 3.5Hz frequency.
The decoration is also top-notch and as modern as the rest of the watch, with thick Geneva stripes (which look so much better than CNC-executed ones…), large polished bevels all around, polished countersinks, a succession of indications executed in positive relief over a matte surface and circular graining on the mainplate. Finally, the balance cock echoes the barrel bridge on the dial side, with the same finger design and equally pleasant hand decoration.
Availability & Price
The Armin Strom Tribute 1 collection is initially launched with this “First Edition” and limited to 25 pieces. It is available now from the brand and its retailers. This first iteration is distinguished by its white gold barrel bridge and a 10-year warranty, double the standard warranty normally offered by Armin Strom. It is priced at CHF 13,900 making it the most accessible (relatively speaking) watch in the brand’s portfolio.
For more details and orders, please visit arminstrom.com.