Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force: Invention Is No Accident, Or How To Start Fresh
Children learn in school that people like Thomas Edison, Eli Whitney, the Wright Brothers, and Galileo are examples of genius inventors that changed the world. To be sure, these people all contributed great things to the world at large.
The assumption, though, is that these inventors had a stroke of sudden inspiration that led to their inventions. This is almost always far from the truth.
The fact is that most inventions are the result of years of trial and error from a number of inventors working to solve a problem. The incandescent lamp, for example, was invented 78 years before Thomas Edison’s first commercially successful design took off, and Edison himself worked for years to perfect the bulb after the first patent was awarded.
The Wright Brothers used ideas and research data of previous inventors in combination with a new invention called the internal combustion engine to develop the Wright Flyer after years of research.
Sometimes the inventor that gets the credit isn’t even the person who was first to invent, but the one that had the resources to jump to the front of the line: Nikola Tesla is the best example of such a loser in those battles as his genius was used by a variety of other inventors who ignored his patents and got all the glory (and often money).
This also is part of why there weren’t many famous female inventors early on (though there were indeed many female inventors): it was easy to discredit females in business and higher learning circles.
Most accomplishments were simply the result of years of hard work and research built on top of discoveries made by multitudes of clever people in every possible discipline. The best inventors find inspiration in the work of previous generations, spotting opportunities that might have been missed or that were simply beyond the technological abilities of the age.
That brings us to today’s feature: the Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force, a brand-new watch that seeks to innovate with the help of historical inspiration and a healthy dose of research and development.
Gravity Equal Force by Armin Strom
The Gravity Equal Force is the official beginning of a new direction at Armin Strom as with it the brand also launches a new line, the System 78, which seeks to build an entry-level core on innovation and a more refined design sensibility.
Gravity Equal Force modifies the typical Armin Strom design codes, altering the proportions for a more modern aesthetic and creating a more functional usability for the wearer. The watch’s diameter has been reduced to 41 millimeters, a first for the brand, and the “Armin Strom lip” at 6 o’clock has been shaved to match the more modern shape of the case.
Gravity Equal Force incorporates a familiar movement layout that has been modified to include new triplet bridges supporting the barrel, micro rotor, and keyless works inspired by historical pocket watch movements. This now becomes a highlight as the time display is moved from a large, slightly offset open dial to an off-center dial with subsidiary seconds display.
While it is similar in essence to the original Gravity models, the Gravity Equal Force is designed to be easier to read at a glance while highlighting the mechanics and time display separately.
The rear of the entirely new Caliber ASB19 takes on a new aesthetic as well, serving as a combination of past Armin Strom design cues (such as the style of the winged plate supporting the micro rotor) and historical pocket watches (repeating the style of individual cocks for the going train and balance).
The new caliber also sports upgraded finishing for a true haute horlogerie package. The aesthetic changes should be enough to mark the Gravity Equal Force as a shift, but the most significant change is the attitude of the brand going forward, leading to the mechanical innovations within.
Gravity Equal Force: inspiration and innovation
Gravity Equal Force is the manifestation of a principle near and dear to the hearts of Armin Strom CEO Serge Michel and technical director Claude Greisler, one that the pair wants to influence every watch coming from the manufacture: always innovate.
Starting with the development of the Mirrored Force Resonance, and continuing with masterpieces like the Dual Time Resonance, the brand looks toward the future of its collection, implementing a directive that every new watch must include at least one innovation.
At least one significant technical innovation per watch sounds like a tall order for any watch brand, especially an independent brand, but Armin Strom has a plan: look backward and find ways to improve what has been done.
The spark of inspiration is best nurtured when one looks to the past, and this is what Armin Strom will build upon. The resonance phenomenon was a great place to start, a technical element so underdeveloped in the watch industry that there were loads of possibilities.
When you combine this directive with a building full of talented watchmakers and engineers, letting them pour over horological standards and theories, you are bound to find a lot of issues to work on. Some may be historical blind spots, while some may have simply occurred due to the lack of advanced manufacturing capabilities at the time.
The nerdy watchmakers at Armin Strom are given the chance to discuss horological theory and debate the possible improvements in search of future opportunities. One such discussion led to the desire to deliver consistent power to the regulator in a way that proved reliable and easily implemented.
Looking at past solutions, an idea was proposed to develop a unique stop-works mechanism to coincide with automatic winding to provide much more consistent energy delivery from the mainspring.
The new “stop-work declutch” mechanism derives from older stop-works mechanisms found on manual winding pocket watches utilizing a Geneva wheel as the counting and limiting feature to keep power delivery restricted to the most consistent portion of the mainspring.
The biggest difference is that this mechanism is built inside the mainspring barrel, allowing the mechanism to slip once it reaches the upper limit. This makes it work with the micro rotor so that the mainspring not only stays in the optimal operating range but will do so as long as you wear the watch.
The mechanism uses a Geneva wheel mounted in the barrel housing and a counting finger attached to the central arbor. An arm is attached to the Geneva wheel acting both as a power reserve indicator and part of the declutch mechanism.
The Geneva wheel limits the rotation of the mainspring barrel to just 9 turns out of a possible 12.5, representing the central 72 percent of the mainspring’s torque curve.
Improvements large and small
This is the first time a stop-works mechanism has been combined with automatic winding in a wristwatch.
And that’s not all: the entire construction of the mainspring barrel has been rethought based on a vintage pocket watch that came into the workshop for repair. Seeing that the pocket watch had a traditional motor barrel design (which sees the mainspring barrel housing rotate during winding and the central arbor drive the gear train), the watchmakers realized this is a much more stable and secure method for barrel design.
By constantly turning, supported by two jewels instead of rotating around the arbor (like the common going barrel found in most movements), it reduces operating friction and increases precision, separating the Gravity Equal Force from many of its peers.
Since that pocket watch movement was largely rebuilt from the ground up, Armin Strom’s watchmakers and engineers also took this opportunity to overhaul the entire movement, looking at geometries across all the components to improve functionality and reduce friction and wear.
Miniscule changes to gear teeth, part spacing and tolerances . . . no detail was too small to reconsider.
The watchmakers at Armin Strom understand that what was considered the gold standard in the past may not actually be the pinnacle of engineering today, though an inspection of the horological theories of the past often provide clues as to where improvements can be made.
New techniques, materials, and technology might be able to improve upon what was once considered perfection since tighter tolerances are possible nearly everywhere. It also creates opportunities to explore ideas that simply didn’t work because the know-how and capabilities were still decades away.
System 78 and more
That is where Armin Strom hopes to tread moving forward: into the edges of theory where others have yet dared to venture, into the once dead ends of theory that needed technology to catch up.
The experience with the Mirrored Force Resonance and the development of the resonance clutch spring sparked a shift within Michel and Greisler that is clearly leading to a slightly new path for the brand.
Gravity Equal Force also marks the launch of the System 78 Collection, which will replace the Single Barrel collection as the entry point to Armin Strom moving forward.
System 78 also signals the end of the production for the original Manual, Gravity, and Gravity Date models as the System 78 collection will begin anew with the Gravity Equal Force.
The shift will eventually lead to all-new collections that represent the ideals of innovation and high-quality watchmaking at different levels across the brand.
As the entry level collection, System 78 demonstrates a commitment to constant development tied to true haute horlogerie at an affordable price. The brand is looking to create a “system” of fine watchmaking that brings more watch fans into the Armin Strom family.
The second part of the collection’s name – 78 – hints at the birth year of childhood friends Serge Michel and Claude Greisler, who want the collection to represent their watchmaking philosophy, which underlies the entire brand.
Given what the brand has accomplished over the last few years, I for one am confident this will shine through.
The Gravity Equal Force is a cool new take on some traditional ideas, all presented in a very modern package from one of the most flexible independent brands out there. With a dedication to customizability across most of the watches and now a firm commitment to provide innovation with every new watch, Armin Strom has no plans to rest on its laurels.
Armin Strom clearly has a defined strategy moving forward and could very well be the site of many good things to come.
So just like Armin Strom does during research, let’s break things down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.1 Sometimes looking back allows a move forward, and this new direction definitely wows!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 91.0» 892.405m/s2 There is a strong amount of desire wrapped up in this watch, enough to keep you up for days!
- M.G.R. * 66.8 Taking a “standard” movement and completely redoing it from the ground up while improving functionality and taking historical direction for innovation is enough to make any movement nerd sit up and take notice!
- Added-Functionitis * Mild Despite all the updates and innovation, the only added function is a power reserve. So there is still only the need for children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream!
- Ouch Outline * 10.8 The existential pain of knowing that cute doggo in the car next to you can’t come home with you! We’ve all seen that dog, the one that almost breaks your heart it is so adorable. But once you calm down you realize that it isn’t your dog. And barring dognapping the pooch, you will probably never see it again. I guess I need a new watch to comfort my soul.
- Mermaid Moment * Look at that barrel! Having a clearly complicated mainspring barrel with unique stop-works is enough to make anyone call the reverend!
- Awesome Total * 767.6 Begin with the number of components in the movement (202) and multiply by caliber number (19), then divide by the balance frequency in Hz (5) for an innovatively awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.arminstrom.com/en/collection/model/gravity-equal-force.
Quick Facts Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force
Case: 41 x 12 mm, stainless steel
Movement: in-house automatic Caliber ASB19 with micro rotor on dial side and Geneva-drive constant force barrel, 25,200 vph, frequency, 72-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve
Price: CHF 16,900