Despite the fact that most enthusiasts agree that resonance watches are flat-out lovely (both from a horological and aesthetic perspective), only a handful of brands actually produce them, and Armin Strom is one of them. Featuring two balances, the inherent concept of a resonance watch will be appealing to nearly everyone who appreciates intricate mechanical complications, and adding any further complexities to a resonance movement is virtually guaranteed to result in a heavy-hitter piece. A similar statement applies to other high complications that sit near the top of the horological pyramid, and just like its name suggests, the “Masterpiece 2” Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance (ref. TI19-RMR.SA) pairs a dual regulator resonance movement with minute repeater functionality to create a thoroughly modern timepiece that is inspired by the centuries-old chiming clock tower in Bern, Switzerland.
Originally announced in 2019 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand, the Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance holds the distinction of being the world’s first wristwatch to incorporate both a dual-escapement resonance system and a minute-repeater chiming mechanism, and it embraces a largely gray and rose-gold color profile for a distinctly contemporary overall appearance. Crafted from grade 5 titanium, the case of the Armin Strom Masterpiece Minute Repeater Resonance measures 47.7mm in diameter by 16.1mm thick, with lugs that are set 23mm apart and extend to create an overall lug-to-lug profile of 54.33mm. Although there almost appears to be a third middle lug on the 6 o’clock side of the case, it is really more of a partial lug hood than an actual lug itself, and a fairly standard straight-end strap is connected to the two actual lugs below it.
At the 3 o’clock location is a large fluted winding crown, while the slider to operate the minute repeater function sits opposite it on the 9 o’clock side of the case. Sapphire crystals are fitted to both the dial side of the watch and its screw-on display caseback, and although no one will likely ever be going for a swim in this high-horology timepiece, the Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance still offers 30 meters of water resistance in order to protect against daily incidental contact. Aside from its large size and grade 5 titanium construction, the case itself is fairly traditional in its overall form, and while it does offer a rather modern take on a classic round profile, it is arguably the most restrained aspect of this entire watch.
While the Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance does have a dial, it only represents one small component that makes up its display. Unlike most timepieces that offer similar complications, the two balances, minute repeater gongs, and hammers are all located on the dial side of the watch, which places them on full-display and highlights the model’s mechanical complexity. The dial itself is a fairly small and slightly off-center transparent disc that has rose gold markers and a pair of matching rose gold alpha hands. Surrounding the dial are the gongs for the minute repeater, with the hammers placed at the 12 o’clock location. Meanwhile, the lower part of the dial showcases the dual balance wheels, with each one positioned at the end of a large rose gold balance cock that is decorated with a hand-engraved tremblage pattern.
Beyond just configuring the components of the movement in order to display its complications on the dial side of the watch, Armin Strom has also managed to do this in a manner that allows the “Masterpiece 2” Minute Repeater Resonance to offer an almost entirely symmetrical display. This detail creates a strong sense of visual harmony and gives the watch a very intentional overall design, rather than just looking like a bunch of micro-mechanics crammed inside a case. Additionally, rather than having to flip the watch over to admire its two signature party-piece complications perform their respective functions, the most dynamic and impressive components can all be viewed without ever having to remove the watch from your wrist.
It goes without saying that the Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance isn’t powered by an off-the-shelf movement, and inside its titanium case resides the Caliber ARR18, which was co-developed by Armin Strom and Le Cercle des Horlogers. Consisting of 408 individual components, the Cal. ARR18 is a 51-jewel manually wound movement that runs at a frequency of 25,200vph (3.5 Hz), while offering users a power reserve of approximately 96 hours. Unlike other resonance watches that have their two separate balances entirely synchronized via the vibrations of their oscillations through the movement, Armin Strom takes a different approach and facilitates this transfer of vibrations by directly connecting the two outer ends of each balance spring with a clutch spring mechanism that appears as a thin intricately curved structure between the two balance wheels at the 6 o’clock location. Additionally, while the dual balances and minute repeater gongs are all located on the dial side of the movement, the various gears, cams, and springs that control them sit on display through the large sapphire window in the caseback.
Completing the Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance is a dark gray alligator leather strap that tapers from 23mm at the lugs to 20mm where it connects to a signed folding clasp with a double push-button release. Although the chunky design of the clasp is very much in-line with the bold size and styling of the watch, the clasp is crafted from stainless steel rather than titanium, and this somewhat feels like a slight oversight, especially given the ultra-premium nature of the watch itself. That said, this isn’t the only titanium Armin Strom model to feature a strap with a stainless steel clasp, and while I would like to believe that this is intentionally done by the brand due to the different properties of the metal, many other companies produce titanium clasps, and the use of a stainless steel one on the titanium Minute Repeater Resonance is probably done simply so that Armin Strom can use the same 20mm clasp that is fitted to some of its stainless steel models.
Given the modern and mechanically-focused styling of the watch, it can initially be a bit difficult to see how the Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance was inspired by a 13th-century chiming clock tower in Bern, Switzerland. However, if you look at photos of the ancient clock tower (known as the Zytglogge), the aesthetic similarities become immediately apparent. Parallels between the designs of the two dials are obvious, but even the placement of the balances and minute repeater hammers are reminiscent of the windows and aesthetic embellishments that sit above and below the face of the clock tower. While this historical inspiration is certainly an interesting feature, it also lends itself to a highly symmetrical layout and an incredibly satisfying visual display that simultaneously offers an unobstructed view of the watch’s key components.
Produced as a limited edition of just 10 pieces to celebrate the brand’s 10th anniversary, the Armin Strom “Masterpiece 2” Minute Repeater Resonance is accompanied by an official retail price of CHF 380,000 (or about $410,000 USD at the time of writing). While this makes it undeniably an expensive timepiece, it’s also important to note that the Minute Repeater Resonance is a word-first and there really isn’t anything else that exists within this exact same category. Aside from being an objectively impressive timepiece and easily one of the brand’s most premium offerings, the Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance also represents the inaugural pairing of two of the watch industry’s most fascinating and prestigious complications. For more information on the Armin Strom Masterpiece Minute Repeater Resonance, please visit the brand’s website.