Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire: Totally Transparent Synchronicity
Here’s a hypothetical question.
If you worked for years creating a marvelous sculpture, toiling over every detail and ensuring it was absolutely perfect, and upon finishing your masterpiece and wanting to show the world what you had created, would it make much sense to put the sculpture in a steel box with a small window on each side?
Would you want to hide most of the views of the sculpture in a container, limiting the ways it can be appreciated to just two small windows?
I feel that I can say with reasonable certainty that the answer would probably be no.
If museums did this, no one would go because staring at Michelangelo’s David with your face pressed up against glass peering into a poorly lit box is a sad way to experience art. It would diminish the appreciation of such a spectacular sculpture and likely make you feel like it wasn’t deserving of your attention.
It seems that the good people at Armin Strom agree, and that is why the latest release is the Dual Time Resonance Sapphire, a version of the pinnacle of Armin Strom engineering housed in a completely transparent sapphire crystal case to show every possible angle of the incredible caliber.
The Dual Time Resonance Sapphire, launched during SIHH 2019, is a bit of a Lion King moment for the brand in that it is holding its baby high and proudly proclaiming that all should come see what has been created. So let’s do just that.
Sapphire crystal as a case material
As trends go, full sapphire crystal cases are still a rarity, though are becoming more viable as sapphire manufacturing and machining is increasing (see a few recent examples in Give Me Five! Sapphire Crystal Cases At Baselworld 2016).
The benefit is that for true works of art and engineering, nothing must be hidden by the necessary yet sometimes obfuscatory case. It won’t be as durable and shock resistant as steel or titanium, but the sheer brilliance of a case made from pure sapphire crystal can’t be understated.
Yet that brilliance comes at a price in both cost and time. To create a full sapphire crystal case, a large amount of the extremely hard and expensive-to-machine corundum from which the crystal is formed is wasted. And with a case of this size, you have to start with an extremely large block of solid sapphire crystal. Which is then meticulously shaped with diamond-tipped tools.
First the block is roughly cut into a shape suitable for machining, and then diamond-coated tools proceed to very slowly and methodically cut away the material, often taking several days of straight machining, day and night, just to reach the near net shape.
During this process, just one wrong vibration could cause the entire piece to crack or shatter, ruining it. This is a very real possibility, too: I have heard estimates for different manufacturers that there can be anywhere from 35 to 90 percent scrap rates during this process, meaning there might be a nine-in-ten chance the part will crack before machining is even completed.
Talk about a high-stakes process.
After machining, the sapphire crystal must be left to rest for multiple days as any tension in the material caused by the heat and stress of machining could still cause the part to warp or crack. This could be compared to annealing in glass blowing or firing pottery in a kiln, where the material needs to be slowly cooled to prevent stresses from destroying the nearly formed glassy compounds.
This process for a sapphire crystal case is as critical as any part of the manufacturing because if the case has an area of higher tension (sort of like tempered glass) it could be more prone to shattering from the internal stresses.
After machining and the rest period the case is then methodically polished on every surface, often taking several more days as the only way to polish sapphire crystal is with progressively finer diamond abrasives: trying to polish something nearly as hard as diamond is no small task.
After what may have amounted to multiple weeks, the case is finally ready to hold the ultimate prize: a piece of masterful craftsmanship and engineering.
Armin Strom Caliber ARF17 on full display
The production of this case may be extremely difficult, but the entire process of creating it is worth it when you consider what is inside: the spectacular Caliber ARF17, whose phenomenal dual movements have their regulators connected by Armin Strom’s superbly engineered (and scientifically certified) Resonance Clutch Spring. And given the three years of intense research and development on the spring alone, being proud of the accomplishment is understandable.
The movement, a further development from the original ARF15 and ARF16 Mirrored Force Resonance calibers, incorporates two gear trains to create a dual time display, only coupled together by the Resonance Clutch Spring to clearly demonstrate the resonance phenomenon.
Resonance (for those just hearing about it) is the phenomenon where two linked oscillating systems will eventually oscillate in sync with each other as vibrations from both slowly alter the period of its partner. See more in Understanding Resonance, Featuring The F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance, Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance, And Haldimann H2 Flying Resonance.
And while the phenomenon has already been on display in the brand’s previous models incorporating the Resonance Clutch Spring, the movements haven’t quite been displayed to the fullest as it is here.
Armin Strom already has a history of “uncovering” its movements, at least to a certain extent, to display the craftsmanship and engineering behind its watches. This means it is no slouch when it comes to finishing a very lovely movement. But the Dual Time Resonance Sapphire takes that up a notch.
Since the entire movement is visible from every direction, no ounce of effort could be spared in making it 100 percent visually perfect: the ARF17 is finished to excellent levels and can be seen from any angle thanks to its sapphire crystal home.
The sapphire crystal makes the mechanics appear to float between the straps, a piece of mastery suspended for your appreciation. That mastery isn’t just visually impressive, it stands out technically too.
The Resonance Clutch Spring system has been officially certified by CSEM (Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique) as a true resonance system, cementing its position in history as one of only a handful of watches ever created using resonance.
The system has also been shown in testing to increase precision by 15-20 percent over C.O.S.C. chronometer standards (when two C.O.S.C.-certified chronometers are placed in resonance), which would result in a 1-2 second decrease in deviation per day.
The accuracy of such a system is definitely worth celebrating.
And that is why it is now positioned within 360 degrees of sapphire crystal – so that it can be more fully appreciated in every way possible. Having two separate gear trains linked by the resonance phenomenon is incredible, and when that also gives you the ability for a second time zone (or GMT), overlapping 24-hour indicators, and twin power reserve indicators, the mechanics become an even more highly sought-after viewing experience.
Why would you want to hide all of that inside a little gold or titanium box with a couple windows when you could allow it to be seen from every angle imaginable? I wouldn’t want to hide it, and neither does Armin Strom. This follows the philosophy of Armin Strom as well since the brand is very transparent about its production and products, striving to not only be incredible, but honest as well.
The Dual Time Resonance Sapphire is an awesome edition of an incredible movement putting on display Armin Strom’s commitment to excellence.
Sadly, it is limited to just eight pieces and has a price tag that matches its intense mechanical and visual achievement, so I will have to yearn from afar.
For more information, please visit www.arminstrom.com/en/collection/model/10dual-time-resonance.
Quick Facts Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance Sapphire
Case: 59 x 43.4 x 13 mm, sapphire crystal
Movement: manual winding Armin Strom Caliber ARF17 with two resonant movements
Functions: hours, minutes; second time zone, 24-hour indicator, double power reserve
Limitation: 8 pieces
Price: CHF 280,000/$268,000