Continuing to up their game, Armin Strom presents the world’s first and only resonance chiming wristwatch. The new Masterpiece 2 Minute Repeater Resonance offers two incredible complications with its resonance capabilities and a minute repeater. Fitted with two vertically-stacked independent movements; two forms of resonance —oscillators and sound propagation; two independent mainsprings in one barrel; and two top development teams in Armin Strom and Le Cercle des Horlogers for the minute repeater part of things. Limited to only 10 pieces, the Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance celebrates the 10th anniversary of its fully integrated manufacture. Cased in grade 5 titanium, the Masterpiece 2 Minute Repeater Resonance gets its inspiration from Bern’s centuries old chiming tower clock.
Activated by a slider on the left side of the case band, two hand-polished hammers at 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock respectively, chime the hours and minutes on two three-dimensionally curved gongs encircling the hour/minute subdial. The hammers are visually and technically balanced by the two independent regulators – one for each of the two movements – at 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock. The case is in grade 5 titanium for optimal sound transmission and comfort, and its 47.7 mm diameter allows for a generous volume for the sound to propagate from. The sonorous chimes are also enhanced by attaching the gongs directly to the case.
A specially developed security system maximizes ease-of-use by protecting the minute repeater from accidental damage by blocking operation during time setting and winding. Fully visible between the two oscillating balances is Armin Strom’s patented Resonance Clutch Spring and the result of three years of intensive research and development. While it has been long known that resonating coupled oscillators in watch and clock movements improves accuracy, less known is that resonance also conserves energy. Under a virtually invisible sapphire crystal dial, the dual balances oscillating in synchronization and the two hammers striking the time, the Minute Repeater Resonance stages an unparalleled horological spectacle for both the eyes and the ears.
For the 10th anniversary of its fully integrated manufacture, Armin Strom decided to develop a world-first masterpiece fully highlighting the brand’s savoir-faire. As the industry leaders in resonance, including the brand’s laboratory-certified resonance technology was an easy choice. But Armin Strom’s chief watchmaker Claude Greisler wanted something more, he wanted Armin Strom’s first grand complication.
The 16th century tower clock that gave its inspiration to this new watch is based in Bienne in the Swiss canton of Bern. While the French-speaking region of Switzerland is known for a multitude of famous historical timepieces, Bern has far fewer. That one landmark clock is the Zytglogge. The clock in this tower has not only served as the city’s main clock for more than 500 years but the tower also served as the reference point for travel times indicated on stone markers along the main cantonal roads. Additionally, this clock tower supposedly helped Albert Einstein hone his special theory of relativity while working as a patent clerk in Bern.
The impressive tower clock is animated with automatons: four minutes before the change of the hour, a cock crows, a bear —the symbol of Bern—makes his rounds, and a jester takes the liberty of announcing the hour in advance. And at the top of the hour and on the quarters, the clock chimes the time for all to hear.
For this particular watch, Armin Strom, the masters of resonance movements wanted to work in partnership with masters of chiming watches, and Claude Greisler knew the perfect person and team, his old friend Alain Schiesser, founder of Cercle des Horlogers, with whom he had worked with in the past at Christophe Claret. Working behind the scenes, Le Cercle des Horlogers has developed around half of the minute repeaters launched by prestigious Swiss brands over the last few years.
Originally, the minute repeater mechanism had been envisaged to be in the traditional position at the back of watch, but the team decided that it deserved equal billing with the resonant regulators dial side where it could be appreciated by all. This brought many technical challenges of its own. Armin Strom not only wanted the resonant regulators and minute repeater hammers and gongs to be fully visible on top of the movement dial side; Greisler and his team did not want appreciation of the animated mechanisms to be potentially diluted by the associated gearing necessary to drive the repeater and going train for the time display. So the movements are inverted with the pinions driving the repeater hammers and hour and minutes transversing the two vertically stacked calibers in a case that is still relatively not too thick at 16.10 mm thick —slightly thicker than an AP Royal Oak Offshore for sake of comparison purposes.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and that’s certainly the case here. Space constraints meant that there was insufficient room for separate large mainspring barrels for each of the two movements, so Armin Strom developed an innovative single barrel with two independent mainsprings inside, each driving its own movement. The high visibility of the complications dial side also dictates that the watchmakers have to pay very special attention when assembling and regulating the watch as the slightest scratch or mark on the beautifully hand-finished surfaces would be visible to all. Skeletonized bridges and plates which are an Armin Strom specialty, allow visual access through the sapphire crystal dial deep into the movement.
While the vast majority of the components were produced in-house at the Armin Strom manufacture, the gongs were made by Le Cercle des Horlogers in a process involving more than 30 different stages including multiple thermic treatments. While the exact process is a closely guarded secret, it is said to be very similar to Patek Philippe’s process for making gongs. All components are finished to the very highest level, but of special note is the tremblage hand-engraving on the large golden balance cocks supporting the two oscillating balances. While titanium is the perfect metal for both transmitting the resonating sound from the gongs to the ear and ensuring that the watch is relatively light and comfortable to wear, it is a ‘cold’ metal; this coolness is balanced by the warmth of gold. The 408-part movement with 51 jewels, beats at a frequency of 25,200 vph to provide a power reserve of 96 hours when fully wound. The watch is available in a highly exclusive limited edition of 10 pieces and delivered on a dark grey alligator strap with stainless steel double folding clasp.
Sticker Price CHF 380,000 Swiss Francs —approximately $385,000 USD. For more info on Armin Strom click here. Price: CHF 380,000.-