Hands-on: Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance Fire. The Only True Resonance Watch in the Market.

 A few weeks ago, we brought you the exciting news about Armin Strom releasing a Resonance watch —a true horological feat that only a couple watchmakers like F.P. Journe and Breguet had mastered. Well, today, we finally bring you our hands-on review with our usual live pictures of this fascinating timepiece that is nothing but spectacular.  Fitted with an 18K rose gold case measuring 43.4 mm in diameter, the Armin Strom Mirrored Resonance Fire is truly the only Resonance watch in the market. Equipped with two oscillating bodies in close proximity that influence each other and eventually synchronize, the Mirrored Force Resonance Fire is a sophisticated and very demanding horological technique that has rarely been attempted, let alone mastered. Creating the Mirrored Force Resonance Fire took two and a half years of labor intensive research and development. When Claude Greisler —Head of Horology at Armin Strom— came up with the idea behind this new watch, he knew that improving an old concept wasn't going to be easy but he was also aware of how high the reward would be. Armin Strom's Mirrored Force Resonance is a new, better and more interesting way of executing and displaying an old idea by highlighting the interesting functionality of the resonant balances while improving the watch's overall precision.

Explaining Resonance

The phenomenon of synchronized motion in horology has fascinated watchmakers since the time of Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). Huygens, inventor of the pendulum clock, was the first to discover the resonance of two separate pendulum clocks, which he logically surmised should keep slightly different time. When hung from a common beam, however, the pendulums of the adjacent clocks synchronized; subsequent researchers confirmed that the common wooden beam coupled the vibrations and created resonance. The two pendulums functioned as one in a synchronous manner. In the eighteenth century, Abraham-Louis Breguet demonstrated his mastery of the phenomenon with his double pendulum resonance clock.

In the pursuit of horological accuracy, precision, and rate stability resonance has generally involved utilizing two independent mainsprings, gear trains, escapements and balances each connected by a rack and pinion to allow fine tuning of the distance between them. Precise adjustment of the distance between the two regulators is necessary to incite resonance, which sees the two balances finding a concurrent rhythm in opposite directions so as to continuously average out errors for maximum accuracy.

One body in motion relays its vibrations to its surroundings. When another body with a similar natural resonant frequency to the first receives these vibrations, it will absorb energy from the first and start vibrating at the same frequency in a sympathetic manner. The first body acts as the “exciter,” while the second acts as the “resonator.”

To provide an idea of how difficult the horological execution of this concept is, an exhaustive list of watchmakers that have successfully used resonance in an extremely limited number of timepieces only includes Antide Janvier (1751-1855) and Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823). In modern times only Francois-Paul Journe has attempted a somewhat similar complication that in reality is not that much of a Resonance Watch but a timepiece with two independent movements.

The Dial

Following the traditional art of skeletonization mastered by Armin Strom, the new Mirrored Force Resonance Fire features a skeletonized dial with off-centered black subdial for the hours and minutes at 3 o'clock and two black rings for the running seconds indicators at 11 and 7 o'clock. These two indicators make their revolutions in opposite directions —one rotating clockwise and the other counterclockwise—, as if they were performing a magic trick. Additionally, as you will see in the pictures below, the movement mainplate and bridges visible through the dial side are exceptionally decorated by hand and a real treat for the eyes. 

The two running seconds indicators feature a three-spoke hand with luminescent material on one of the spokes. On the other hand, the black subdial features gilt Arabic numerals and the traditional Armin Strom hands this time miniaturized in 18K rose gold with luminescent material. But what makes this dial simply unbelievable, are the two independent balance wheels supported by exquisitely finished bridges and connected by two resonance clutch springs in sweet steel and the symmetrical twin seconds indicator, which happen to be bound by a single spring.

If the 48-hour power reserve has been exhausted and the movement requires a fresh injection of energy through winding, the twin balance wheels need approximately 10 minutes to become synchronous. In case of any outside influence in the form of shock, it takes only a few minutes for the two balances to find their resonant rhythm once again. This is because it is not the balance wheels that Armin Strom’s technical team has connected using the resonance clutch spring, but rather the balance spring studs, which receive the impulses.

As you can see in the images below, the satin brushed finish and chamfering on the bridges that support the two independent balance wheels is simply out of this world. While the mainplate is decorated with perlage —circular graining— the bridges feature a beautiful satin brushed finish and anthracite PVD treatment to make this watch one of the best looking watches out there.

The Movement

Unlike the majority of watch companies operating today, Armin Strom is in reality a full-fledged manufacture with in-house manufacturing capabilities. The resonant caliber ARF15 is a classically constructed manually wound movement —composed of 226 parts and 43 jewels— that was conceived, manufactured, assembled and regulated in-house. The movement beats at the atypical frequency of 3.5 Hertz —25,200 vph—, allowing the observer to really appreciate the patented, resonant regulators in action. While the real show takes place on the dial side, the base plate of the movement is exquisitely decorated with circular Côtes de Genève and with two skeletonized mainspring barrels.

The resonance clutch spring needed to realize the Mirrored Force Resonance’s twin display of seconds was so technical that the brand’s team, under the direction of technical director Claude Greisler, was left with no choice other than to create what it needed in house. Like Calibre ARF15, the resonance clutch spring is made of sweet steel.

Greisler and his team spent fully two and a half years perfecting the shape and characteristics of the spring: calculating, optimizing, simulating, testing, and improving again and again until the spring had the optimal, unique form needed to connect Armin Strom’s two sets of oscillators, each comprising twin balance wheels and balance springs. The movement provides a power reserve of 48 hours when fully wound.

The Case & Pusher

The 18K pink gold case is satin brushed finished and rounded out by a mirror polished bezel with the traditional lip at 6 o'clock. The left case band features a pusher at 2 o’clock that is used to reset the twin seconds’ displays to zero, simultaneously resetting the twin balance wheels. The Mirrored Force Resonance is the most complicated timepiece that Armin Strom manufactures and it is not surprising that a patent has been registered on it.

The Strap

The new Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance Fire is delivered on a brown hornback alligator strap with beige contrast stitching with 18k rose gold pin buckle and with an additional brown rubber strap. A double-folding clasp in 18k rose gold is available as an option. 

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance Fire wears true to its size and with very impressive wrist presence. Without a doubt, this new watch featuring two independent regulation systems that stabilize each other connected by a resonance clutch spring is one of the most complicated watches out there and the most complicated watch ever created by Armin Strom.

This new Resonance watch will for sure catapult Armin Strom to a much higher rank in the watch industry, but might also be the watch that grants them the “Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix prize at the next Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève.

The Mirrored Force Resonance Fire is available in a limited edition of only 50 pieces.

Sticker Price CHF 67,000 —Approximately $69,000 USD. For more info on Armin Strom click here.

Posted on November 21, 2016 and filed under Armin Strom.