Five Questions with Monochrome’s Frank Geelen on His Latest Collaboration with Armin Strom
Watch enthusiast website Monochrome recently announced its third watch brand subscription collaboration with great aplomb.
The day before Monochrome’s announcement of its third subscription-based watch brand collaboration, I sat down with Monochrome’s owner, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief Frank Geelen to get the inside track on why the new Monochrome x Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Maillechort is so special.
Marco Gabella: What is Monochrome’s ambition/approach for issuing limited editions with watch brands?
Frank Geelen: We’re very passionate about watches and, by now, I think, also very knowledgeable about them. So, when we see a timepiece, we discuss, in-ternally, what could be even better about it. What could be cooler or nicer. What would [elevate] the watch or add something for our tastes.
This Monochrome x Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Maillechort is our third watchmaker collaboration, and we added some focus on historical relevance and wearing comfort to the process.
So, what drew you to Armin Strom’s Gravity Equal Force for that third subscription watch?
FG: First of all, I’ve been following Armin Strom since the very beginning of the brand, and it is quite dear to me. I’m particularly interested in how it has evolved and its strong focus on improving precision. I really appreciate its inno-vation with the proper respect for watchmaking precision. Precision. Precision. Precision.
That goes for the Gravity Equal Force, too, because it’s doing something in a wristwatch with an automatic movement for the very first time. Before, it was something that was only done in old pocket watches. Plus, I love how it looks; the way the entire mechanism is exposed to show how a it works. It’s a watch-making lesson on the wrist.
If you look at how the watch was built – constructing a motor barrel and cutting off the energy when the power from the main spring is too low and would negatively influence the amplitude – it’s a very old-fashioned approach done in a historically relevant way.
Where did your inspiration come from for the Monochrome take on the Gravity Equal Force?
FG: When Armin Strom debuted the anniversary edition of the Resonance Zeitgeist with a German silver (maillechort) main plate, I think the entire Monochrome team was swept off its feet.
We wanted to see more of that, so we proposed the Gravity Equal Force Maillechort version. We knew we couldn’t completely replicate the Resonance Zeitgeist (since it was a unique piece), but we wanted to get as close as we could to its stunning nature. It’s not loud in terms of decorations or colors; it’s extremely discreet.
What were the challenges on this project?
FG: Mainly to go for a watch that not only looks good but is very true to the Monochrome aesthetic. We wanted to find good hands so that it would be legi-ble, even in low light. And we tried many options: open hands, closed hands, Super-LumiNova.
In the end, we opted for darker hands so the contrast in certain light wasn’t too low. We had quite a few prototypes and tested them. I’m super happy with the very dark gray rhodium-plated hands we used; they pop just enough, not too much.
Why do you always do 33 pieces in your limited editions?
FG: That’s a funny story: We started doing our collaborative limited editions with Habring2, an Austrian watchmaker. We were discussing doing maybe 25, maybe 50, you know? But doing 25 felt like not enough, while 50 was a bit too much.
At the same time, there was a Formula One race happening in Austria, and Max Verstappen (prominent motorsports racer and big watch fan) drives car number 33, so that is where it comes from. So far, we’ve kept it at 33, but for some future limited editions, we might do 22 or 11 and keep that double-digit tradition going.
About the Watch
In Monochrome’s re-envisioning of the Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force, the watch keeps its open-work, visible format, showing the same mainspring barrel approach that delivers stable force to the regulator and the mechanism that stops the barrel when the mainspring driving force is too low.
However, for this subscription-only collaboration, Monochrome has selected German silver, or maillechort (a cherished material for hardcore watch enthu-siasts), for the main plate, which has a more muted look that will patinate over time. Plus, the muted eye appeal works well with the white opaline, off-center dial and the small seconds indicator overlaying the main dial at 8 o’clock.
Meanwhile, its striking trio of finger bridges carry the superb level of finishing and beveling that we expect from Armin Strom.
Finally, the color theme is completed via a color-matched gray Alcantara calf leather strap.
Pricing & Availability
While not officially on sale until Thursday, September 7th, at 15:00 CET (9:00 am EDT), the 41mm Monochrome x Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Maillechort (limited to 33 editions; €22,900) is available for pre-order exclusively at the Monochrome Shop with a €7,500 required deposit.