Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire: Highlighting Technicity With Transparency
by Martin Green
One of the best things about being a watch journalist is that you get to observe from a distance, which allows you to take in both trends and market developments plus the rise and fall of models and brands. The longer you are in the business, the more refinements you are able to detect in these developments.
While ups and downs are a part of life, I take far more pleasure in witnessing the ups. These are often moments when passion, vision, and capability come together in synergy and boost a brand to the next level. In that light, it has been a true pleasure to see the developments at Armin Strom over the last few years as evidenced by a brand-new highlight: the recently introduced Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire.
Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire: making a great watch even better
In late 2019, Armin Strom delighted us with the introduction of the Gravity Equal Force, an automatic watch that includes the brand’s triplet bridges supporting the barrel, micro rotor, and keyless works inspired by historical pocket watch movements as well as a “stop-work declutch” mechanism that 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 torque portion of the mainspring. The Gravity Equal Force marks the first time that this mechanism has been combined with automatic winding in the history of watches.
While the Gravity Equal Force combined sensational, innovative technology in an haute horlogerie package, it was the way that Armin Strom aesthetically presented all of this in a timepiece that pushed it directly into the stratosphere of mechanical watchmaking: it is not form that follows function or function dominating form, but the perfect synergy between them.
It is even impossible to determine who took the lead in the development process – the engineers or the designers – as these are seamlessly one. While that is already quite an achievement, Armin Strom proves that it can even further perfect this with the latest version: Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire.
Armin Strom perfected the design by adding more depth to the watch. This starts with the base plate of the movement, which is visible from the front. In previous versions, this was a dark tone or other color with a subtle textured finish topped off with a subdial to tell the time. This made these watches surprisingly understated, which is quite an accomplishment given their technical nature. Armin Strom highlights the technical details by putting them on display.
For the Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire, Armin Strom teamed up with Kari Voutilainen to give the backplate a refined guilloche motif. We clearly see the hand of the master in this: while the design of the guilloche is not particularly outgoing, it shows its refinement in the way that it is draped around the other parts of the watch. It gently directs the eye to all the right places, allowing admiration for this piece to grow further.
Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire: sapphire crystal done right
I have to disappoint those who might be expecting a sapphire crystal case based on the name of this watch: aside from the typical front and back crystals, it is “only” the dial that is made of sapphire crystal.
Here again, Armin Strom shows its deep understanding for subtleties. The crystal itself has a light grey tone to it with an opaque finish for the small seconds. Visually it seems to interact with the dial train while covering an area underneath where not much is happening. It gives the watch that sense of depth I was talking about earlier, but also takes its refinement to an even higher level as each detail is meaningful.
This also includes the strap, where Armin Strom opted for fabric instead of leather. In my opinion, it is the right choice as it continues the theme – and even the texture – of the watch further on the wrist. It also gives the Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire a slightly different character than its siblings.
I specifically wr0te “different” as I like how the brand has elevated this model, but that doesn’t immediately make the other editions a thing of the past. With this watch has a slightly more conventional and restrained design, it has no problem holding its ground regardless of variation, all the more as the Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire production is limited to around 15 pieces per year.
I am also careful to call the latest edition to the collection sportier as this would be primarily based on the choice of strap. I feel it is more appropriate to say that this watch has a more technical focus to its design, changing the character ever so slightly but not what it stands for.
Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire: keeping the best
It is also good to know that the rest stayed the same. Like its siblings, the Ultimate Sapphire features a 41 mm case crafted in stainless steel with a height of 12.65 mm. This makes the watch very well proportioned; it sits exceptionally well on the wrist.
As the bezel is very slim, you get to fully appreciate the spectacle underneath the sapphire crystal where antireflective treatment ensures that light reflections don’t interfere. The layout of the movement is a true delight and continues to mesmerize: from the front thanks to the micro rotor and the back due to the highly visible balance wheel.
Committed to improving chronometric performance, the movement is fitted with a “stop-work declutch” mechanism that stops the movement when the mainspring unwinds beyond a certain point. This way, the movement is constantly performing at its best, ensuring an overall stabler rate and performance.
The price that Armin Strom wants for this all is CHF 22,900. That is CHF 6,000 higher than a stainless steel Manufacture Edition, yet CHF 4,000 less than the watch in pink gold. With an annual limited production, the Voutilainen-decorated base plate, and refined sapphire crystal dial, the brand has cleverly positioned its new sibling in relation to the rest of the collection.
I believe it is worth it as it is that extra sense of refinement that makes this timepiece even more desirable than its siblings. It is also another important step in Armin Strom’s continuing path upward, one I suspect won’t be the last.
For more information, please visit www.arminstrom.com/en/kollektion/system-78/gravity-equal-force-ultimate-sapphire.
Quick Facts Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force Ultimate Sapphire
Case: 41 x 12.65 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 22,900