Identity is a brand’s main objective. Look at a Rolex and you’ll recognize it at first glance. Same goes for a Ferrari or a Louis Vuitton bag. Even though its introduction is recent (2006), Armin Strom has forged for itself such an identity, boasting a coherent collection with clearly defined design cues. The Armin Strom Racing Gravity is a superb example of this identity, and we at Monochrome Watches review it here for you.
Usually, when it comes to explaining Armin Strom watches, it always ends up with the concept of the four elements. Most of the timepieces created by Armin Strom are divided into groups and take their names from the four elements: fire (rose gold case, dark dial, gilded parts in the movement, brown strap), water (stainless steel case, silver dial, blue tips and blue strap), earth (full black PVD stainless steel case, black dial, black strap) and air (titanium case, white or grey dial and strap), as we previously touched on when introducing the Gravity Collection. However, one collection sets an exception to this rule, with bridges and plates made from the original motor block of an F1 car, carbon inserts on the dials and straps, and a black color scheme. So whereas the Armin Strom Racing Collection contributes an element of Formula 1 to the package, courtesy of its close association with the Marussia F1 Team, its design actually remains very true to the rest of the collections. A feature that is common across the Armin Strom range is that all models share similar styling, distinctive to the brand and therefore immediately recognizable, but with the many variations being differentiated mainly by the movement within. All share the skeletonized movements (whose legacy can be traced to the company’s earliest days, when it was a specialty of the founder), the off-center dial and the protruding lip at the 6 (which we have learned is an engraved personalization in the form of the owner’s initials or a logo or crest).
The Armin Strom Racing Gravity is clearly a sports watch. It has a sporty feeling in its design, in the colors used, and in the materials employed. The size and the design are far removed from the restrained elegance of a tuxedo watch (like a Piaget Altiplano). Features are also simple (on paper) as we’re in front of a time-only watch: hours and minutes on the central axis and small seconds at 9 o’clock. It could be that simple by only looking at the functions, but in reality, this movement’s got way more to tell you than the time, as it comes with plenty of pleasant details and specifications, executed with a good deal of watchmaking skill.
Case and strap
The Armin Strom Racing Gravity comes with the brand’s usual case, but offered here with a new color scheme. The case measures a solid 43.4 mm x 13 mm, and is made of both titanium (for the bezel and the caseback) and black PVD stainless steel for the central part of the case (as you can see on our photos, the case bands and the lugs are coated in black). Considering the size, the use of a case fully in titanium could be welcome as it is lighter that steel and more resistant to scratches, and PVD simply works better on titanium. The caseback is made of sapphire crystal in order to let the owner admire the movement. One thing that could be improved is the water resistance, limited to 50 meters. Not that the Armin Strom Racing Gravity should be seen as a dive watch, but considering the sports watch feeling, a 100-meter rating would be more useful and safer in case of a misadventure.
The strap also participates to the racing/Formula 1 feeling, with its carbon inserts on the central part. It is made of thick alligator leather and comes with a black PVD pin-buckle (a double-folding clasp in black PVD stainless steel is available as an option). However, thickness is no issue here, since the strap is flexible and curves well around the wrist.
The dial – at least what used to be a dial – is the main attraction of the Armin Strom Racing Gravity. It allows a view of all the technical elements of the movement without distracting from time reading. One of Armin Strom’s typical features is the off-centered dial, slightly moved to the left side of the face of the watch. The space left on the other side is filled with a plate engraved with the logo of the brand and held in place by two screws. The hours and minutes are indicated by two large hands, generously filled with luminous material. Time can be read on an external black chapter ring, finished with a concentric pattern. Considering that the Racing Gravity is a skeletonized watch, legibility is good thanks to its large and polished hands that pops out from the base plate of the movement.
As said, this Armin Strom is a skeletonized watch, meaning that the opened dial allows a view of its technical elements. The small second at 9 o’clock is also opened to show the first and second wheel, as well as the escapement wheel. The right side of the watch also reveals interesting technical elements, such as the barrel at 1 o’clock and the micro-rotor at 5 o’clock. Both are held in place with superbly finished opened bridges, coated in dark gray, with a circular graining on the top and large, polished beveled angles. All these finished elements contrast with the rough mainplate made of a unique material. Which leads us to the movement.
The movement of the Armin Strom Racing Gravity is no stranger to us, as we already reviewed it when handling the Armin Strom Gravity Water. In his review, our contributor Max said: “The calibre AMR13, an in-house movement, has 32 jewels and 171 components. It uses a variable inertia balance, the free sprung balance variety, which means the balance is regulated only by screws on the balance wheel, versus a smooth balance wheel that uses a regulator to shorten or lengthen the balance spring. The balance spring has a Breguet spiral curve (or overcoil) to improve its isochronism, or equal rate of coiling and uncoiling. This is old school watch making. Recalling artisan watches of yesteryear, the movement beats at a slower 2.5Hz, which allows for an ample power reserve of 5 days.” The only possible criticism might be the lack of a hacking second mechanism. On the other hand, the finishing is superb, with polished, beveled angles on the bridges and the wheels, graining on the gears, and black polishing on flat surfaces. Some nice traditional watchmaking.
A very cool feature is the use of a micro-rotor to wind the watch, but on the dial side, allowing an attractive and dynamic feeling while wearing the watch. Another interesting detail is the use of bridges made from the original motor block of an F1 car, totally in keeping with the context of a racing watch. This is all due to Armin Strom’s partnership with the Russian Formula 1 team Marussia.
This new Armin Strom watch is totally imprinted with the brand’s DNA and identity. However, the context of racing and Formula One is pushed quite far with the interesting use of real F1 parts in the movement – “engine” might be more appropriate – and carbon on the strap. Armin Strom is good in the game of creating new editions, all with their own feeling, without detracting from the rest of the collection. The finishing is very good for such a sports watch and comfort on the wrist is excellent despite the robust dimensions. The movement is both technically interesting and superbly finished.
The Armin Strom Racing Gravity is a limited edition of 50 pieces and comes at a price of 16,500 Swiss francs.