The Gravity line of watches by Armin Strom is something that we have discussed before: I wrote about the Gravity Date Tourbillon here and Ariel did a hands-on article about the time-only Gravity Fire here. But rest assured, this time we have gravitated toward this line again for two good reasons: first, we are talking about a different and, relatively speaking, more affordable watch than the tourbillon, and yet a bit more complex than the Gravity Fire. Secondly, I would like to share what I learned about the details of the more unusual design code of the brand.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Claude Greisler, Armin Strom’s Director of Horology and gain some insight into why they create things the way they do. As we have discussed in the past, large portions of the design language comes from the direction set by the brand’s namesake founder over 40 years ago. One of the present day features that is immediately drawn from that direction is the tab on the case down at 6 o’clock.
The original intent of this was to have the initials of the owner of the watch engraved there. While this is something that happens less frequently today, the tab serves more as an identifier for the brand. Another unique identifier is how the dial is offset within the front of the watch. Not only is this unique in terms of a look, it is done for a very specific reason. Per Mr. Greisler, this is done as proof positive that they have built their own movement, and are not simply modifying something “off the shelf” – otherwise, you simply would not be able to have the hands off-center like that.
This movement creation also allows some neat tricks in design that are not as readily apparent, unless you can get up close and personal with the watches as I did. For instance, you will notice in the movement pictures in this article that there is a gear train forming a straight line from the stem to the other side of the dial. Armin Strom also has the flexibility, as we see with the Armin Strom Gravity Date, to move components around in other ways. While many watches will have a rotor (be it regular or micro) on the back of the movement. Here, it is actually on top, which of course presents its own engineering “opportunities.”
Frankly, if you were to look at the back of an Armin Strom Gravity Date Fire (or most any Armin Strom watch) you might think that the movement is a manually wound one. Its viewing it from the dial side that you can see the microrotor (down at 4 o’clock), paired off with the almost identical looking barrel up at 2 o’clock. In this way, the wearer is able to see a majority of the kinetic movements (and plenty of gearing) at work without the need to remove the watch from their wrist. Think of it as the reason people opt for open heart (or skeletonized) dials, albeit on a much higher level. Even without the rotors and gear train lines, you would be hard-pressed to find a dial with as many layers as this one that maintains its readability.
While there is a lot of “gee whiz” sort of stuff going on with the Armin Strom Gravity Date, it is not just done for wow-factor alone – there is some very nice functionality included. Aside from the standard timekeeping functions, the subdial over at 9 o’clock incorporates a three-for-one practicality. In that dial, you get a sub-seconds readout (the slender hand), a date display (the longer skeletonized hand) and a day/night indication (the remaining hand). Yes, it is a lot packed into a small space, but it packs a lot of utility into the dial without hiding away the details and finishing off the ADD14 movement.
While I have been critical of using a hand to display the date in other watches, I think here it makes a lot of sense. If they had used a standard date disc, the movement would have been obscured – and that would anathema to what they are creating (in fact, that is why they use micro rotors as well, to allow the owner to see more of what they have paid for). Speaking of paying for these, I did mention that these are relatively more affordable than the previous tourbillon I wrote about, right?
The two Armin Strom Gravity Date models that come in steel (Water and the PVD-coated Earth) come in at a price of $18,300. When you go to theArmin Strom Gravity Date Air, which features titanium, your price is $21,300. Finally, the Armin Strom Gravity Date Fire tops the line, with its 18k rose gold commanding a price of $31,500. It is also worth noting that all four models are limited to 100 pieces. Last, but not least, I did have one other thing to point out – the elements that name these watches are not just color schemes. There is engraving on the back of the movement that represents the element as well. Just another very nice detail on what is already quite a stunning watch. arminstrom.com