Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance: Synchronized Oscillations Driving Sonorous Vibrations (Plus Video – It Sounds Fantastic!)
Firsts come in many forms, but the large majority is the result of the combination of earlier principles, inventions, and theories. Coming up with something generally new isn’t actually that difficult (for example, tuna fish-smothered mint onion ice cream); coming up with something original with no antecedents is extremely rare.
This is because almost all inspiration is seeded by previous experience, and in terms of physical inventions, other previous inventions that are themselves based on even earlier inventions.
The first true bicycle (that we might call a bicycle) was based on nearly 70 years of ideas that stemmed from an invention called the wooden horse, a contraption with two wheels that one sat upon and walked/pushed with feet to propel forward. It could be argued that this was also developed from earlier wagon technology combined with the usefulness of individual horses.
This same story can probably be laid out for almost every invention in the last 1,000 years, as even Da Vinci had many natural and manmade inspirations for his inventions. This isn’t to say that you can’t have a spark of genius or think of something never thought of before, but the reality of inventing, even at the fringes of science, is often a continuation of what came before.
I can imagine that the first primate to ever use a stick or a stone as a tool did so after seeing something else in nature that worked in a similar way.
We can’t escape external inspiration, but we can embrace it, and understand that we are the benefactors of thousands of years of technological evolution without which we may not be able to do anything we currently do. The same goes for watchmaking, and I am thankful for that every day as brands come up with ever more impressive creations that amaze and astonish.
Armin Strom has fully embraced external inspiration to develop a string of creations in the last few years all based on one rarely seen phenomenon: resonance.
You may have seen the Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance that laid the groundwork for a handful of improvements and advancements on the theme and also resulted in the latest release: the Minute Repeater Resonance.
This is the first time in history (thanks to the rarity of resonance in watches) that the resonance phenomenon has been combined with a chiming watch, let alone a full minute repeater. Thanks to the clever development of the resonance mechanism at the beginning, the doors to this incredibly complex and technical creation were opened.
This brand-new creation is built on inspiration from the past (both the resonance phenomenon and classic minute repeaters), but also that of the thirteenth-century Zytglogge clock in Bern, a landmark for the region where Armin Strom is based in nearby Biel.
This combination of influences led Armin Strom’s head technician Claude Greisler to propose a grand complication to mark the tenth anniversary of the Armin Strom manufacture, and the Minute Repeater Resonance was born.
Built to highlight the resonance mechanism as well as the chiming function, the caliber uses the front of the central plate to house the dual going trains, the balances with Resonance Clutch Spring, and the hammers and gongs for the repeater.
Thanks to the offset sapphire crystal dial for the time display, we are privy to a view of the gearing for the time as well as the repeater speed governor at 12 o’clock. The hammers and gongs are mounted above the dial at the top with the gongs curving to wrap around the exterior of the sapphire crystal dial.
Below the dial and gongs, we find the familiar dual balance setup connected by the Resonance Clutch Spring. The design of the bridges supporting these balances perfectly complements the main bridge supporting the going trains and, combined with the hammers and gongs, makes for an extremely well-balanced display for the Minute Repeater Resonance.
The symmetry is a function of the mechanics and is an ideal layout for such complicated mechanics.
Staying fairly true to classic minute repeater styling, the repeater mechanism is activated by a slide on the left side of the case. However, if you continue to the rear of the watch you see that classic mechanics give way to modern progress.
The rear of the movement is dominated by the mainspring barrel that actually holds two independent mainsprings, one for each gear train. On the other half of the back of the movement we find the counting and hammer activation portion of the minute repeater mechanism.
Flanking these on either side is the keyless works and the internal components of the repeater slide supported by a large triple-legged bridge.
Mechanics on display
As with many Armin Strom timepieces, nearly every piece of the mechanics is on display, with many of the wheels skeletonized and bridges as open as possible to highlight the functionality of all the components.
Yet the Minute Repeater Resonance isn’t a skeletonized watch; there are still solid base plates, bridges, and wheels. In only a very small area can you see through the movement.
This avoids a big aesthetic pitfall of openworked watches: seeing a hairy wrist underneath. Without making the movement very see-through, Armin Strom was still able to make the movement feel completely exposed while controlling what we actually see.
And there is definitely a lot to see. The three-dimensional gongs are attached both to the main plate and the case as their mounting block is positioned at one of three movement-retaining screws that screw into the central case. This feature can be seen from the cutout in the case structure where the block extends beyond the dial space.
This tactic combines with the choice of a titanium case for a louder and clearer chime than if it was isolated on the movement and then placed into a dense gold case, not to mention it adds subtle details that one notices upon subsequent viewings.
Those gongs are also three-dimensional as they bend down from above the hands and make their sweeping curve level with the sapphire crystal dial. Yet even considering the sapphire crystal dial’s effectiveness at highlighting the gearing underneath, much of the show also takes place on the rear.
That is where we find the single mainspring barrel with two independent mainsprings that were developed specifically due to the lack of space for twin mainsprings once the minute repeater was added.
This is a focal point of the rear of the movement and possibly the most unique individual creation for the Minute Repeater Resonance, which required parts of each movement (since each going train is technically independent) to be on both the front and rear of the main plate.
The minute repeater components aren’t overshadowed, however; they are clearly laid out so one can watch the ballet of racks, springs, and levers dance to create the delicate chime.
The entire ARR18 caliber is a fantastic collaboration between Armin Strom and the folks at Le Cercle des Horlogers run by Alain Schiesser, an old friend of Armin Strom co-founder Claude Greisler. Together the two companies strove to create something brand new, inventing along the way, but also getting a helping hand from history and the inventions that came before.
For me, this is the real legacy of the Minute Repeater Resonance: a culmination of centuries of history, but at the same time a groundbreaking exploration into possibilities separate from tradition.
In a way, that describes Armin Strom as well: a fluid synthesis of history and tradition melded perfectly with a desire to keep advancing every day.
The original Mirrored Force Resonance was already something to be awed by, and the Minute Repeater Resonance kicks everything into high gear. It takes the epitome of haute horlogerie concepts and puts them definitively on point for the philosophy of the brand.
Given the success and relative ease it seems that Armin Strom has in combining the Resonance Clutch Spring with new ideas, I feel that the future of the brand is on very stable ground. I am excited for where it might go next!
So let’s break it down . . . accompanied of course by the sweet music of the chimes!
- Wowza Factor * 9.8 This is a special watch among special watches and a first in history that isn’t contrived (like the first use of a PVD coating on a bridge in a chronometer from a brand that starts with the letter P released on a Tuesday). It literally combines two of the hardest accomplishments in watchmaking in one!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 118.5» 1,162.088m/s2 This is a significant amount of late-night lust, it is so much I can feel my very bones vibrating! Or perhaps that is just the resonance of balances or even the chiming of the gongs?
- M.G.R. * 71.05 When people make complicated watches, it can often be a bit overwhelming for the average watch lover, even those who love the complication. But the effort to keep this movement as focused as it is has made for a lustworthy mechanical creation!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate I have to be honest with these categories, and while a minute repeater is extremely complicated, it still only counts (in my book) as one added function. But I can’t ignore how serious of an addition it is, so I’ll give this a diagnosis in the middle and say it requires extra-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for a serious case of a single added function!
- Ouch Outline * 12.4 The sudden impaling of your foot on a small but extremely sharp metal sliver hiding in your carpet! Working in a shop means there are times when things magically transport themselves to my home and wind up being found in the most random of places. None of these discoveries can beat the tiny metal sliver that lurks in your carpet to attack you the minute you are without shoes and socks. The surprise is the worst part, yet I’ll take that surprise if it means getting the Minute Repeater Resonance on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Gong! All it takes to make the heavens swirl with adoration is to hear one little chime while watching the resonating springs keeping constant time in sync with each other!
- Awesome Total * 918 Begin with the number of pieces in the limited edition (10) and multiplying by the number of jewels found in the movement (51), then add the number of components in the ARR18 caliber (408) for a completely resonant awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.arminstrom.com/en/collection/model/11minute-repeater-resonance.
Quick Facts Armin Strom Minute Repeater Resonance
Case: 47.7 x 16.1 mm, titanium
Movement: manual winding Caliber ARR18 with two symmetrically mirrored regulators resonating at 25,200 vph, 408 components, 96-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; minute repeater
Limitation: 10 pieces
Price: starting at 380,000 Swiss francs (may be customized)