Horomariobro is a renowned watch enthusiast from the US West Coast, also known as ‘the King of Macro Photography’ to his over 30,000 followers on Instagram because he likes to zoom in on the details of a watch using his iPhone and a loupe. With Armin Strom, he created a unique piece, the Pure Resonance Ultimate Sapphire. He talks to Monochrome Watches about this customized watch that the brand liked so much, that it will now be made into a limited edition of 10 pieces.
How did you personally get to know the brand?
I always knew about Armin Strom as a brand. It wasn’t until 2017 that I really got interested in the brand when I was looking for a resonance watch and the Mirror Forced Resonance caught my attention. I admire both the technical and craftsmanship aspects of this kind of complication, and making it possible on a wristwatch really fascinates me. Technical expertise and savoir-faire are important factors that I consider when looking for a watch. Armin Strom’s resonance device is a patented invention for improved precision and chronometric stability, developed by Claude Greisler, Armin Strom’s co-founder and master watchmaker, and his team. It’s not only visually intriguing but has also become a watch industry benchmark, as it delivers the fastest, best-performing and most shock-resistant resonance solution in the world.
The model you have was custom-made for you. What was the basis that you worked on to design your customized version?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, I was looking for a resonance watch. I first learned about the Mirrored Force Resonance. However, the size of the 2016 edition (43.40mm x 13.0mm, see above) was too big for me. The Pure Resonance was later released in a smaller size, which got me interested in the brand again.
Once I narrowed down to this specific model, I started to think about the design I’d like for this model and it was not very clear to me for quite some time until the Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire was released in 2021. That design caught my attention and I really like it. I love how the sapphire dial is used and I love the monochrome colour scheme. That’s when I had the idea to do something similar with the Pure Resonance to create a piece unique.
Can you please tell us some more about the design and production process?
The whole design process with the brand was great. It was actually among Armin Strom, Oster Jeweler and myself as I originally ordered the watch thru Oster Jeweler in Denver, USA. In fact, Jeremy Oster had a series of conversations with me and then reached out to Claude Greisler at Armin Strom. It was a very organic and creative collaboration: Claude even admitted that sometimes you need a push from the outside to make radical changes. Armin Strom was very receptive to my ideas from the beginning, which made it a very pleasant experience for me. It was a very surprising experience, too, because the brand accepted some of the ideas that I thought were impossible to be approved, such as the removal of the lip and the seconds dial of the Pure Resonance model.
The communication was mostly done through Whatsapp between Claude, Jeremy Oster and myself. We would share design ideas, and then Claude would come back with renderings for those ideas. It was a very iterative process. We also had a few calls to talk about design details and finalize decisions.
How did you feel when you first saw your watch come to life?
Resonance is a fascinating natural phenomenon. To apply it in watchmaking chronometry is like a dream come true for me personally wearing it on my wrist. I am very happy with the result as it looks even better than the design rendering, especially in person. I like how the depth on the dial side and the resonance in motion really provide a great visual effect. It’s a monochromatic, highly technical timepiece with an extreme level of hand-made haute horlogerie decorations. When it comes to the hand-made decorations on the Pure Resonance Ultimate Sapphire, Armin Strom created a unique combination. Also, the new movement design and decorations are a highlight of this watch. Lastly, having Horomariobro engraving on the movement side adds that extra special feeling to me personally.
What changes did you want to be made?
Well, it’s a 42-millimetre steel-cased Pure Resonance Ultimate Sapphire driven by hand-wound Armin Strom manufacture Calibre ARF16. It’s the most minimalistic resonance timepiece made in Armin Strom’s fully integrated manufacture in Biel/Bienne. As per my wishes, a sapphire dial has been applied, and the small seconds as well as Armin Strom’s historical lip on the case at 6 o’clock, have been removed. Even the logo is omitted, albeit for a subtle AS symbol engraved on a movement component. We found that these radical reductions enhance the overall symmetry and highlight Armin Strom’s expertise in movement creation and haute horlogerie decorations. Furthermore, the less-is-more approach enhances the kinetic marvel of the resonance clutch spring connecting the two balance wheels oscillating in resonance towards and away from each other.
And what about the decorations?
This is true savoir-faire by the team of Armin Strom. The black PVD-coated gear train bridges are adorned with a unique grain d’orge guilloché pattern by Kari Voutilainen, whereas all other decorations are made in-house by Armin Strom. Edges are hand-bevelled wherever humanly possible, the balance bridges are skeletonised and circular-grained, and other bridges are hand-frosted, mirror polished, or perlaged. The grainy texture on the winding bridge on the right is a fine example of tremblage. One of Armin Strom’s master engravers has spent hours and hours carefully and painstakingly digging a frosted pattern with a customised engraving tool.
Is there anything going on at the backside of the watch?
Oh yes! The backside has been opened up to show the crown wheel’s improved ratchet mechanism – which gives the click-click sound when you wind the watch. The back side also carries “the pin”, Armin Strom’s seal of origin. This is the part that has been engraved with “Horomariobro”, the Armin Strom symbol and a unique serial number in the limited edition, before being matt finished, hand-bevelled and circular-grained. Very beautifully done.
Now, Armin Strom has decided to launch a small limited number of watches, how did you feel about this? Because your watch will no longer be unique….
I never expected my simple request for a piece unique to turn into a limited edition with my IG name on it. It makes me very proud. It would not have been possible without the ideas from Jeremy and Claude, however. Therefore, I feel very honoured that the brand decided to launch it as a limited edition. It’s definitely a big milestone in my watch-collecting journey. To me, that’s even more special than having a piece unique.
Where will it be sold?
The 10 limited edition pieces of the Pure Resonance Ultimate Sapphire Special Edition are exclusively available at Oster Jewelers in Denver, US.
Does your watch get a lot of wrist time?
Yes, absolutely. Having to acquire a resonance watch has been a long goal for me. To be able to finally own one with Armin Strom’s collaboration is very meaningful to me. To be able to see both the great decorations and the fascinating resonance in action really makes it difficult to take the watch off my wrist!
Do you ever get reactions from family, friends, other collectors or strangers if you wear or show the watch?
I usually don’t show my watch, or pictures of it, to anyone as I prefer a more stealthy lifestyle. For this reason, I always wear long sleeves – this also helps protect the watch. That’s why I don’t always like summer when it gets too hot. The only time that I’d show my watch would be during watch-gathering events.
How would you describe your watch collection?
I am mostly interested in watches from independent brands. There are specific models, either from a finishing or technical perspective, or both, which I’ve always longed for since long ago. I feel very lucky that I am able to finally obtain most of them. So, I am happy where I am with my watch collection. This Pure Resonance is a good example of them as I always wanted to have a resonance watch.
Are there any watches on your current wish list?
There are always watches I’d like to buy. It’s an addiction and I am trying to slow down. The next one that’s been on my wish list for a long, long time is the Haldimann H1 Flying Central Tourbillon. I don’t know the timing yet as we all know there is a long wait in the current watch market. I’d be very happy if I can get it within the next two years.
Which brands do you think are interesting to keep an eye on?
My interests in watches focus on the technical and craftsmanship areas. So I have high respect for brands that continue to excel in those areas, such as Greubel Forsey, Romain Gauthier and of course, Armin Strom.
What tips can you give to other collectors?
‘If the watch is yours, it’ll come to you’ is the one thing I learned from my collecting journey. So, my advice is to do the homework on the watch and not rush into buying it if one is not certain. For most watches, the next opportunity will come again out of the blue. Sometimes, it can even be a better one.
Another cliché, but very true is “buy what you love”. Also in the current market, many watches are either sold out before the release or very hard to obtain without any strong spending history/relationships/connections with the brands/AD’s. It’s become a norm that watches have to be bought sight unseen without a lot of time to make a decision.
So, I especially sympathize with new collectors as the market condition is very different from years ago. There are so many watch brands out there today and there is no lack of great watches. It’s not necessary to buy watches that everyone wants. I’d suggest looking for value pieces that you can take the time to try and make a decision, if possible.
Are you in touch with other collectors?
Yes, I have several close collector friends that I stay in touch with on a daily basis. It’s great to be able to share the same passion and speak the same watch language with people around the world. It’s also great to have close friends on that I can bounce ideas back and forth with when I want to ask for second opinions.
For more information on the Pure Resonance Ultimate Sapphire or the brand, please visit ArminStrom.com. Also keep an eye out for macro-shots on Horomariobro’s Instagram account, which are bound to pop up sooner than later.