A Closer Look At The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire
Independent watchmaker Armin Strom uses an off-center sapphire dial, monochromatic color scheme, and Voutilainen engine-turned mainplate to give one of its hit watches a technical and aesthetic makeover.
In 2019, when Armin Strom launched its Gravity Equal Force, it rapidly became a collector favorite. And it’s easy to see why. The model’s minimalist design, well-finished automatic movement – including a visible, performance-enhancing mechanism – and wearable proportions made for a compelling combination; that its price started at CHF 16,900 only added to its appeal.
The first iterations of the Gravity Equal Force – presented in a 41mm case made of either stainless steel or 18K red gold – featured a solid, off-center hours and minutes dial that incorporated a small seconds sub-dial spanning 7 and 8 o’clock. This off-center dial sat handsomely across from the visible micro-rotor and mainspring barrel, supported by eye-catching finger bridges, with a matte-finished main plate forming a sober backdrop to this ensemble of elements.
But it was inside the mainspring barrel that the performance-enhancing mechanism could be found – specifically, a clever Geneva stop-work de-clutch system. This mechanism ensures the first turns of the barrel are not used, thus removing from the equation the portion of the mainspring that delivers lower torque and less stable chronometric accuracy. That, in turn, helped the Gravity Equal Force become what is said to be the first self-winding watch to feature constant-force transmission
Breathing New Life Into the Concept
Two years later and Armin Strom has breathed new life into its Gravity Equal Force concept with the Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire. As its name implies, the Ultimate Sapphire makes use of the transparent properties of this synthetic material. Albeit the family-owned brand uses it in a much more measured way when compared to the other sapphire-tastic timepieces released this year, such as Hublot’s Big Bang Integral Tourbillon Full Sapphire, Chanel’s J12 Boy. Friend, Squelette’s X-Ray, or Purnell’s Escape II Absolute Sapphire.
Indeed, the Bienne-based brand has opted to make just the off-center hour and minute dial disc out of sapphire, allowing the gears, plates, and pinions driving these indications to become visible underneath the hand-finished, Super-LumiNova-filled steel hands.
Accompanying the use of sapphire is a contemporary color scheme that stays within a spectrum of black, dark grey, and light grey. The three-finger bridges opposite the transparent dial are treated with dark grey ruthenium, while the mainspring barrel and micro-rotor are rhodium treated. These finishings are both modern and technical looking, with a lot of circular and straight graining at play.
Even more impressive is the blackened mainplate, which was engine-turned at Kari Voutilainen’s dial manufacturer, Comblémine. It is not the first time that Armin Strom has called upon the guillocheing talents of the Finn’s. For instance, other editions of the Gravity Equal Force as well as the brand’s Mirrored Force Resonance timepiece feature Voutilainen’s decorated dials
A Watch in Demand
It would be a bit odd if a watch sporting the name “Ultimate Sapphire” didn’t have a sapphire caseback. So, fittingly, it does. And besides being able to see more of the smartly-finished, dark and light grey movement through it, the three-quarter plate, triangular bridges, balance wheel, and balance cock are also visible.
Both the case and strap continue the monochromatic theme, with the grey of the stainless steel case matched by the grey stitching on the black fabric strap, which features a buckle or deployant clasp in stainless steel.
Priced at CHF 22,900, the Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire will be limited to fifteen pieces. However, demand is such that there is currently a waiting list. You can find out more about this piece by visiting Armin Strom’s website.
(Photography by Kat Shoulders)