Today, I am humbled and honored to bring you this special feature. If you are an avid reader of WCL, you know that only a handful of times I've written stuff this personal. Well, just as promised throughout our Instragram and other social media accounts, here's the special feature on the Armin Strom Gravity Date Watch Collecting Lifestyle Edition Unique Piece that arrived this Tuesday after almost five months of wait.
As a watch collector, owning a unique piece marks a very special moment in your watch life and as a watch journalist, is a moment that shows the world how passionate you are about horology and why you are writing about watches. This unique piece is something I never even thought would be possible. After more than 25 years as a watch collector, little did I know the day I got my first watch, that one day I would become a leading voice in the watch industry, that I would launch a watch publication that has turned into one of the top destinations for watch content worldwide —in three years— and never in my wildest dreams, I ever thought that one day I would be sitting down with a 'haute horlogerie' independent watch manufacture like Armin Strom to design my very own unique watch. This is not a customization of an existing timepiece with a company logo, this is a unique timepiece with various elements that I chose.
For this unique timepiece I chose the metals I wanted for the case, the movement with certain functions, the type and color of straps matching the design and added a few touches here and there to remind me of where I come from and where I am going. This unique piece represents many dreams come true and many aspirations fulfilled. From the bottom of my heart, I really hope that many watch collectors get to experience one day, the happiness that comes with owning a unique piece that was designed by them. Special thanks to Armin Strom for bearing with me through the design process and thanks to all of you that come to the website on a regular basis and that have supported me through this journey called Watch Collecting Lifestyle.
Now, without further ado, let me present you the unboxing and unwrapping of my Armin Strom Gravity Date Watch Collecting Lifestyle Edition Unique Piece.
The Design Process
After the initial conversations took place around April of this year, the design process took almost two months from the time I shared my initial thoughts with the brand to the receipt of the first rendering. As far as choosing the materials for the case, I initially wanted to have a interesting dichotomy with a tantalum case and a titanium bezel —the heavy density of tantalum one of my all time favorite metals paired with the lightness of titanium.
Unfortunately, to get that done, Armin Strom needed to order at least 300 cases in tantalum —definitely a deal breaker. After receiving the sad news, I went back to the drawing board and started thinking about how the four terrestrial elements within the Armin Strom collection pillars could be mixed in an interesting combination. As I've explained it before, Armin Strom timepieces are exclusively done in four different metals associated to four terrestrial elements: Air/Titanium, Earth/Black PVD Stainless Steel, Fire/18K Rose Gold and Water/Polished Stainless Steel.
Finally, after a few weeks, I decided to go with Air/Titanium for the middle case and Fire/18K Rose Gold for the bezel and case back. The reason why I decided to go with this combination is because these two metals represent a similar dichotomy to the one that I had originally thought of, but also because you can't have fire without air —oxygenation. Therefore, both of these terrestrial elements are meant to go together and visually they pair extremely well. Furthermore, this unique metal combination has never been done by Armin Strom and combining different metals in one watch is something they've done only a couple of times for very special unique pieces for their top clients.
The Special Elements in the Design
Besides the special metal combination for the case, it was also important to me to have an automatic calibre and a date function. I also really wanted for my Armin Strom unique piece to feature several special elements that have never been used before by the brand on another Gravity Date. For those of you that don't know, I was born in Mexico City; therefore, having elements that represented my heritage was a must have for this very special timepiece.
Since I didn't want to alter the beautiful layout of the skeletonized dial on the Armin Strom Gravity Date model which I chose to go with, I asked Armin Strom to do a black hour/minute ring and then add a green hand for the day/night indicator and a red one for the running seconds hand. Against the white background on the day segment of the day/night indicator, these hands form the Mexican flag. Armin Strom even matched the color of these hands, to the actual Pantone numbers of the colors in the Mexican flag per my request.
As far as the hour/minute hands, I wanted to have them blend in with the rest of the elements on the dial and appear relatively stealthy but without compromising readability at night, as I am a sucker for good lume. In order to attain this, Armin Strom used black luminescent material on the 18K rose gold hands, which is something that the brand has done only a couple of times on other unique pieces.
Considering that Armin Strom masters the art of skeletonization and their hand-decorated movements are drool-worthy, I wanted to add a special touch to the finishing on the movement plate that is visible on the dial side. For that, I decided to ask for the cross-grinding finish that's on the new Armin Strom Edge Double Barrel and which I absolutely love. Since I've never seen this type of finish elsewhere in the industry, I thought it would be a good way of making the watch more modern and even more exclusive. Along with the cross-grinding finish, I wanted to add some contrast on the dial side by adding perlage —circular graining— around the jewels on the bridges that support the micro-rotor and the mainspring barrel.
The Engraving on the Movement
As it is the norm with Armin Strom timepieces, the back always displays the movement in its full glory and there's typically a special engraving on the bridge that supports the balance wheel. Since I wanted something really special and the space on that particular bridge is relatively small, Claude Greisler —Director of Horology at Armin Strom— came up with the perfect idea. The result, a powerful and tasteful engraving with the name of my publication —without being tacky or going overboard— on the watch.
After several conversations, we decided to create a mosaic with WCL's logo in different sizes throughout the whole plate of the movement and with a cross-grinding finish. Powered by the Armin Strom in-house automatic calibre ADD14 with 30 jewels and 206 components, the movement beats at a frequency of 18,000 vph and provides a power reserve of 5 days —120 hours— when fully wound. Very few automatic movements out there provide such a long power reserve and that's something that I also love about this unique piece.
My Armin Strom Gravity Date Watch Collecting Lifestyle Edition is fitted with a grey rubber strap with a titanium and steel matte finished deployant double folding buckle. Additionally, I decided to also have a grey alligator hornback strap with dark grey contrast stitching. Since the contrast stitching that I requested as never been done before by the brand, that strap is still under production and should arrive soon. For now, it is simply perfect to wear the watch on the rubber strap.
The Work in Progress
Along the five month wait, I had asked the team at Armin Strom for some pictures of the work in progress. However, after receiving them, I had second thoughts and decided to not look at them until after I had received the watch. At the end of the day, this was such a milestone and special occasion in my watch life that I didn't want to ruin the surprise. While Claude Greisler and other members of the Armin Strom team worked thoroughly with me to make this unique piece dream a reality, without the skillful hands and the finesse of the watchmakers that worked on my timepiece, this would've never been possible.
The Wrist Shot
Very few watches in my collection have made me as happy as I felt when I received this unique piece. The feeling that comes with strapping a watch that was designed by you and that bears the name of something that you've worked so hard on is simply indescribable. In all, this is a big milestone in my watch life and an unforgettable experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. After reading this post, I really hope that many of you start thinking about what your unique piece would look like, if you were to get one someday.
Now, if any of you think that we should do a small run of the Armin Strom Gravity Date Watch Collecting Lifestyle Edition —but without the green and red hands as mine should remain unique— please drop me a line and we'll get the ball rolling.
For more info on Armin Strom click here.