December 19, 2013
Whatever you may think of the practicality of a tourbillon in a watch, there’s no escaping that they are quite a visual treat to watch while they work away. Normally when a watch has one, though, that’s all you really see of the movement from the dial side. The folks over at Armin Strom give us more of a show, however, as they follow the design direction it’s namesake founder (a Master Skeletonizer) set for the brand 40 years ago. Their latest gives us another treat that I don’t know I’ve ever seen visible from the front of a watch.
The trick that the Armin Strom Tourbillon Gravity Fire (ref RG14-TF.M.90) has up its sleeve is a micro-rotor. As you might suspect, a micro-rotor is simply a smaller version of the rotors we’re used to seeing in an automatic watch; these usually lead to a thinner watch than you might normally have as well.
In this watch, Armin Strom makes the micro-rotor plainly visible over at the 4 o’clock position. Now, obviously, a rotor of any sort makes use of gravity (and your motions against gravity) to help get it spinning around to wind up your watch. This makes for an interesting juxtaposition against the tourbillon (at 8 o’clock) which is (theoretically) working to negate the effects of gravity. A sort of yin and yang, if you will. It is very much worth seeing the evolution from the previous Armin Strom Tourbillon collection watches (hands-on here).
Those are just the more obvious aspects of the ATM13 movement, which is just about on full display through the skeletonizing of the movement, and the relative lack of a dial. That all said, it does look like a fairly readable watch (which is a real risk with dials this open), with wide, lume-filled hands (reminiscent of buildings, if you ask me) contrasting against the darker finishes in the dial.
The relatively large minute/hour track around the outer edge certainly helps in this regard as well. What’s more surprising (to the eye, at least) is when you notice that the track is actually off-center in the watch – which means the hands are off-center as well. Fortunately, these align to each other, so there’s no weirdness there. It’s just a crescent that’s been added to the right side of the dial.
Why is the crescent there? I suppose it’s possible that they needed a little extra space in the case for some component of the movement. However, I think it’s far more likely that it’s a styling exercise. Not only does it give them a spot to put the brand nameplate, it’s also a way of making the watch just a little bit different than the others out there. While wildly off-center watches can look and feel unbalanced, I think what Armin Strom has done here really works quite nicely – just enough different that it takes an appreciative eye to notice.
Oh, and I almost forgot – why the fire part of the name? Well, that’s due to the engraving they’ve done on this 50-piece limited edition watch. Simply put, it’s got the same flame-inspired engraving showing up that all of the Fire timepieces have.
As you might imagine, pricing for a limited edition of this nature (in rose gold) is firmly in the luxury end of the realm: $148,000. And while this is a piece that I’ll likely never run across, I love that fact that it’s really showcasing the micro-rotor, which is a feature I’ve become quite interested in ever since I discovered they existed.
With this Armin Strom, you’ve got a piece that puts all the mechanically (and visually) interesting bits of the movement front and center, which only helps to reinforce why we love having these precision machines on our wrists. arminstrom.com
Tech Specs from Armin Strom