Posted by Robert-Jan Broer on May 02, 2014
Armin Strom is a brand that doesn’t need a formal introduction anymore I think. In case you need one anyway, have a look at this Armin Strom model overview we did last year. Earlier this year, I received the Armin Strom One Week Water Reference ST10-WW.05 timepiece during a visit to the Armin Strom manufacture in Bienne, Switzerland. The One Week Collection of Armin Strom consists of the Earth, Fire, Air and – obviously – this Water edition that rotated in the Fratellowatches team for a few weeks. We are all big guys, so the fairly big (43.4mm) diameter was not an issue.
Before I start the watch review of the Armin Strom One Week Water, let me start by telling you that I was quite impressed by their manufacture in Bienne. Director Claude Greisler gave me tour through the factory that basically started at his desk, where he designs the Armin Strom pieces using state of the art CAD software. This application Armin Strom uses enables them to meticulously design a watch as well as quickly shift through all layers of the watch. From dial and bezel all the way down to the smallest parts in the movement.
Claude Greisler also showed me the CNC machines in the lower part of the Armin Strom building. They not only produce their own little parts like screws, but also seem to do this for a number of other small independent brands. Buying these small parts with the exact specifications that are needed for the Armin Strom movements would be very expensive, so they decided to buy their own machinery in order to produce them their selves. A number of specific CNC machines are used to create the movement’s base plate. As you can see on the photos in this review, the finish of the movement is impeccable. This is mainly due to the very accurate CNC machines used by Armin Strom. The decoration of the movement and the hand-engraving is of course the human touch to the watch, a work of art really, performed by the master engravers.
The whole watchmaking process is basically performed under the same roof. The design, producing movements and parts, assembly, regulating, quality control and finally attaching the strap and buckle and making the watch ready for its delivery to the customer. It occurred to me that all necessary processes from A to Z were very optimized, something that wouldn’t have looked bad in a high-tech IT company. In any case, I found it to be quite impressive for such a small company. An interesting overview of the Armin Strom building and the various steps and departments who perform these steps can be found here.
The Armin Strom One Week Water is a conversation maker. The open dial gives a perfect view on the large hand-wound caliber ARM09 movement. Most skeletonized watches tend to be about the movement only, which surely is not the case with the One Week Water watch. The case has a modern design – sporty almost – and with its 43.4mm and 13mm height quite substantial. Perhaps this is also caused by the relative large polished bezel and beefy lugs.
One of the more controversial and most discussed aspects of the watch is the lip at 6 o’clock that is quite prominently there. Personally, I get it. It is a signature of the case and can also be used as a surface to have some personal engraving in there. Either initials or a family weapon for example. However, to some people I showed the watch it just looked a bit awkward. I guess it is a matter of taste, and firmly believe that you would start to miss it as soon as it would be gone.
As you can see on the photos, the watch has two big wheels on the dial side that will bring the watch alive as soon as you start to wind it. The watch has two barrels that add up to a power reserve of 7 days. There is a power indicator at 9 o’clock as you can see on the pictures of the One Week Water. It shares location with the second hand. The big hour and minute hand are off-center as you can see, which gives the watch an interesting and playful appearance. The finish on the movement on the dial side is quite industrial looking, the two big wheels actually reminded me a bit of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. A name plate is screwed on top of the movement, stating ‘Armin’.
Caliber ARM09 is a fairly large movement, 36.6mm and consists of 146 parts. It ticks with the relative slow pace of 18.000 beats per hour. As you can see on the photo above, the hand-engraving is done one the bridge and has this wave pattern (to match the Water). The movement has a beautiful finish consisting of parallel Geneva stripes, beveled edges and a cloud-like circular-grained finish on the plate. It can all be admired through the transparent case back. The case back has some engraving as well, stating the model name, brand name, caliber number and of course the fact that it is a limited edition. Only 100 pieces are made of the One Week Water timepiece.
Armin Strom’s One Week Water is being delivered on a genuine alligator horn-back leather strap and an ardillon buckle. A double-fold clasp is optional, but to be honest I was happy to wear this watch with a normal buckle. Those who read Fratello on a regular basis might know that I am not a fan of folding clasps on leather straps (they tend to be a bit too bulky on the wrist). I am not familiar with the Armin Strom folding buckle, but if you are interested in buying a watch from them it won’t hurt to ask for price and some photos on how it will look. The One Week Water also will come with an additional dark blue rubber strap, for sporty use. Although the watch is resistant to 50 meters / 5 atm, I wouldn’t go near water with it personally. Especially when the alligator strap is on it, stay away (yes I know that alligators can swim).
I had a lot of fun with this watch and I think I speak for the other Fratello members who have worn it as well. It is a big watch, so you should try it on before buying it in all honesty. Even though my personal favorite size of watches is between 39 and 42mm, this 43.3mm watch did the job quite well. The strap was comfortable as well, a soft and thick leather strap that perfectly matches the watch. The watch – like I said before – is a conversation maker, to both people who are into watches (especially into technical stuff) and people who just wonder what kind of watch you are wearing but have no specific interest in watches (no watchnerds like we are). I actually spoke to someone who bought one of the Armin Strom watches and he told me that he was very fond of it, what seemed to be an impulse purchase has become one of his personal favorites in his collection.
Price of the Armin Strom One Week Water is $25,800.- USD. More information can be found here.