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Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

We all deserve a handsome skeletonized watch in our timepiece collections. The question is whether or not we can afford one, and then after that, the issue becomes finding one that fits into our lifestyle. Armin Strom‘s Skeleton Pure collection offers an ironically rather uncommon approach to the skeletonized watch dial and movement because the theme of the watch family (at least in style) is more sporty than formal. Alas, the majority of watches out there with carefully skeletonized and hand-decorated movements are a bit formal in their approach to design. What does one do if they are a more casual, short sleeve-wearing sort of guy who still wants this type of artistry on their wrist?

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Armin Strom isn’t the only operation in town servicing this demographic of watch needs, but “casually cool skeletonized” timepieces of this ilk aren’t exactly common. I suppose you might throw in the rare skeletonized-dial Audemars Piguet Royal Oak into this mix, but those aren’t exactly common either, and the prices are typically a lot more. Come to think of it, the skeletonized high-end sports-style watch market may just be woefully underserved at the moment. That’s probably good news for Armin Strom, but it also means that, at least for now, they are among the few brands asserting this category of timepieces, which means many watch consumers don’t even know to look for such watches.

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Armin Strom has two important talents to note when it comes to considering their timepieces. First is that the boutique Swiss watch maker produces their own movements (which, thankfully, further have a very distinct look to them), and second, that the company benefits from having a rather sophisticated in-house decoration department. In fact, prior to the company ever producing their own movements, they gained notoriety for their beautiful decoration of sourced watch movements.

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In 2009, Armin Strom first introduced the in-house-made caliber ARM09. With a unique architecture and over a week of power reserve, it was a very noteworthy achievement at the time. Inside this Armin Strom Skeleton Pure collection of watches is the ARM09-S which is the skeletonized version of that original movement that has served as a base for the brand’s other movements, including micro-rotor-based automatics as well as tourbillons.

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The ARM09-S is made up of 146 parts operating at a steady 18,000 bph (2.5Hz) with eight days of power reserve. The power reserve is spread between two coupled mainspring barrels. In this watch, the mainspring barrels are very visible, as well as skeletonized. One of the best experiences in operating the ARM09-S movement is simply winding the movement through the crown and seeing the barrels turning as a result (along with the springs inside of them tightening).

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

One of the quirks of the movement (which isn’t to everyone’s taste) is the fact that the axis for the hands is not perfectly centered on the dial. Thus, the dial for the time is slightly off-centered to the left. Some people find this lack of symmetry disturbing, but it hasn’t bothered me. You really don’t invest in a timepiece like an Armin Strom because you aren’t looking for some quirky elements such as that.

The manually-wound movement provides the time with a subsidiary seconds hand as well as a power reserve indicator integrated into the subsidiary seconds dial. This latter feature really helps make the wearing experience of a manually-wound movement palatable for me – especially for such a movement where you need to remember to wind it each week. The power reserve indicator is diminutive, but certainly there when you need it.

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Armin Strom’s “Skeleton Pure” collection matches the brand’s element-based approach to product naming, with the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Fire, Earth, Air, and this Water model which is the focus of my review. I first went hands-on with the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure collection here in 2014. While the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Water was the timepiece I wore for the review, we’ve also included a few images where I’ve had other version of the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure timepiece on my wrist.

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Each version of the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure mixes it up with a different case material as well as how the movement bridges are colored and textured. Armin Strom likes to play with various PVD coatings on elements of the movement to get unique looks. On the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Water, for instance, you’ll see a combination of rhodium-plated silver-colored bridges as well as others in PVD-coated blue. In reality, I believe that the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure collection is more than just the Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, as I’ve seen various “special versions” here and there.

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Moreover, in addition to the design experimentation inherent in Armin Strom’s production of new and interesting watches, a big part of their business is being able to customize watches for each consumer. For that reason, you’ll see statements on their website such as “Price from….” This is perhaps too subtle a hint that they are happy to produce something unique and special for each client.

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Comments

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  • While the power reserve indicator is welcome, I wouldn’t need it. A very real joy of this watch is winding it (as Ariel noted). Watching the dual mainspring barrels respond to you winding the crown is somehow just plain satisfying.

    I always enjoy visiting AS at BaselWorld if for no other reason than seeing the pride everyone there has for the timepieces. You can meet their finishers there as they are introduced as the valuable team members that they are.

    I especially like the use of baton markers on these references as the minute numerals on some of other references are not their best feature IMO. Thanks for the review Ariel, I really enjoy these watches a lot and this just gets me amped up for BaselWorld in 4 weeks.

  • iamcalledryan

    I like a skeleton, and I like this!

    From what I have heard, the owner is encouraged to use the little extension on the case at 6 o’clock as a plate for engraving – would like to see an example.

    As Mark mentioned, I also love reserve indicators but there is little need for one on a watch that a) allows you to see the mainsprings and b) is so much fun to wind!

  • THIS is how you do hands on a skeleton. Big, solid and with plenty of lume!

  • Berndt Norten

    Nice watch but its high price underscores the value of Tissot’s gorgeous T-Complication, a watch that delivers a similar aesthetic for 1/30th the price.

    • iamcalledryan

      I don’t see the connection, sir. The T-Complication is decent enough but more resembles an Accutron spaceview, or a cut-up Unitas, than this…

      The T-complication hasn’t seen a minute of hand-engraving, chamfering and doesn’t actually posses any complications despite it’s name! Here you get visibly decent finishing, two barrels, reserve indicator – it’s at least 30 times nicer! (ok maybe 20 times..).

      • Berndt Norten

        I guess I am more in the ‘less is more’ camp. I find this at once hyper-busy and underwhelming. The Tissot is cleaner looking, less busy, and clearly footed in the industrial-chic camp. This one I find to be confused. It tries to be elegant but in my books doesn’t succeed. It’s a dog’s breakfast to my eyes. I used the word ‘aesthetic’ in my original post; I’m not denying your point about the quality of parts, finishing, sophistication of the movement…. But at first glance, I see ‘busy.’ With Tissot, I see a sleek and beautiful design. I concede this is, by objective standards x times ‘nicer’. But the law of diminishing returns…. Anyway, my two cents….

        • somethingnottaken

          The Tissot Squellette was the first watch that came to mind as another casual/sporty skeleton watch. I also prefer the Tissot’s more industrial look, and it also helps that I could actually afford the Squellette.

  • BNABOD

    See ublot this is how you do a skeletonized dial that is still legible and very well finished.
    see the macro pics of the beveled edges. so 60K for the crystal cathedral ublot or 30k for yes a steel version of a very nice looking piece which also has crystal in it. you decide

  • SuperStrapper

    2.5hz at this point is just lazy watchmaking. AS always has an uphll battle with me due to my distaste for the design ethos, but the technical points are not good.

  • Roma KLM

    If I was such a rich man, I would buy this watch without hesitation.

  • pkansa

    This is no doubt nice, but I think I prefer their Elements series if I was picking from across the range of the catalog.

  • Marius

    In my opinion, Armin Strom makes very good movements, yet consistently undermines them by using a very dubious design language. The dial, the case, and sometimes even the leather strap just appear to be thrown together with no apparent connection or symmetry.

    Moreover, the price, considering the recent price decreases, seems pretty high. It’s true that it has a good finish, but for around $40,000 you can buy the AP Double Balancier (also skeletonized and with two balance wheels), or the Breguet 7727 (with the magnetic pivots)–both watches that have fantastic movements, and adittionaly, also have a more prestigious brand name.

  • DanW94

    To busy for me. I like the skeleton dials where they scale back on the amount of bridges, plates, etc…and create separation and negative space between the elements. That way you can independently appreciate each dial component. This is a bit like metal spaghetti.

  • cluedog12

    Armin Strom has done a nice job with this casual skeletonized dial. For legibility though, I prefer the version with the open dial.

    Maurice Lacroix offers a nice skeletonized (manual wind) chronograph for $20k, but its finishing is more industrial. Maurice Lacroix is still up for sale though, so I’d avoid anything but a great deal for now.

    Armin Strom is a young brand, one that exists outside the dressy independent sphere that includes the likes of Laurent Ferrier and FP Journe. The value spoken of in this review is offset by the small chance that the brand won’t be around to service the watch in 10 years. That’s worth considering, if just for a brief moment.

  • nice shots Ariel, love the finishing!

  • Nelson

    great review

  • funNactive

    The Escapement & balance wheel would be nice to be seen from the front while wearing the watch. The case is a little large from my taste/wrist – if it were shrunk by the size of the watch face (off centered for the brand name) – it would go down to a 40-41mm size that would look good.