The latest new watch from Swiss Armin Strom is a more entry-level (though still clearly luxury-priced) product known as the Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force — and it arrives with a few dial styles. The Gravity Equal Force introduces several new elements and is meant to be a more classic, smaller, and elegant approach to wearing an Armin Strom timepiece — which, for the most part, has had an edgier or even futuristic twist. Futuristic watches are a bit on the back-burner these days when it comes to consumer preferences, given that the past seems, to many people, like a better time than the future. It is interesting how collective human sentiment can do things like effect taste for watch designs.
Based on existing Armin Strom in-house watch movement architecture, the new calibre ASB19 nevertheless represents a new look with more traditionally styled bridges and decoration work. The movement features just the time in an off-centered dial, along with an automatic winding mechanism and a new “stop-work declutch mechanism and equal force barrel.” If none of that means anything to you, then just know that they are two systems designed to make sure the Gravity Equal Force watch movement offers more accuracy over time.
Let’s start with the tech specs. The movement is made up of 202 parts and uses a micro-rotor (visible at roughly the 1 o’clock position on the dial) for the automatic winding system. The movement operates at an uncommon 25,200 bph (3.5Hz) and has a power reserve of 72 hours. The rear of the movement, which is visible through the caseback, is also quite attractive, and it’s also where you can appreciate the regulation system amidst the backdrop of a blued metal plate. The movement bridges and plates are given an attractive traditional decoration style and other high-end efforts, such as hand-polished “anglage” (angles). Overall, the ASB19 automatic movement is an appealing highlight of the watch.
So what does the Gravity Equal Force mean? Well, gravity, perhaps because of the automatic winding system, but equal force is directly related to Armin Strom’s efforts to battle poor isochronism. The problem with mechanical spring-powered watches is that, when a mainspring is fully wound or nearly fully unwound, it delivers a very different volume of power to the gear train. Constant force from the spring to the rest of the movement is a key part of what allows the watch to be acceptably accurate while telling time over a two-day, three-day, or whatever period of power reserve is included in the movement. It doesn’t make any practical sense for a watch to be accurate for 10 hours of the power reserve when, during the rest, it is terrible inaccurate. For this reason, watchmakers have tinkered with various forms of constant force mechanisms over the years.
For the Gravity Equal Force watch, Armin Strom created a system called a stop-work declutch mechanism, which is a personalized interpretation of a classic complication — apparently never before included in a movement with an automatic winding mechanism. The idea, I believe, is to ensure that the mainspring barrel stops transmitting power to the gear train if it is over- or under-wound. That means only the “sweet spot” range of power will move from the mainspring barrel to the regulation system to ensure that the movement operates as accurately as possible over its 72-hour promised period. Unfortunately — and as is common among watch makers — Armin Strom does not make any reports as to how much more accurate its new movement is as compared to others, nor does the brand provide any particular metrics on the matter. Again, it is routine for brands not to discuss this — but if they want their special mechanisms to be taken more seriously outside of watch-lover cocktail conversations, they should offer some metrics as to how their interesting mechanisms actually perform.
A challenge Armin Strom has with the Gravity Equal Force watch is dial legibility. The different dial colors are really attractive, and I like the overall design. however, the mostly glossy dials are paired with skeletonized and polished hands. That means that, on certain dials such as black or blue, the hands mostly entirely blend in with the watch dial. That’s not good. Things are a bit better on the rose Champagne-colored and silver dials, but the hands really need to be given a different finishing if Armin Strom is to enjoy peak sales performance with this otherwise lovely new watch collection.
On the wrist, the Gravity Equal Force watch is considerably smaller than many other Armin Strom watches, being 41mm-wide and 12.6mm-thick. The watch is presented in steel, but the brand can happily produce it from other materials, as well. The case is water resistant to 30 meters and has sapphire crystals on both sides. Note the vestigial “lip” on the bottom part of the case. On other Armin Strom watches, this piece is larger and was originally designed so that Armin Strom could engrave the owner’s initials there. With a few tweaks (easy to do), the Gravity Equal Force watch could be another big hit for Armin Strom. Prices start at 16,900 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the Armin Strom website here.