Less But Better: The New Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force
By applying a functionalist approach to watch development, Armin Strom is putting the fundamentals of industrial design at the center of the game. The quest for the essential essence of horology is always a good way to cross perfection.
Generally, watch design is the exercise of hosting a movement, most often a pre-existing caliber, in a new case. But this approach limits opportunities for innovation to the watch’s external attributes, including the dial, hands, glass, strap, and a few specific finishing or decorations of the caliber parts. A few extraordinary watches, including iconic references, are created under this formulaic methodology, and we must admit, this formula works well time and time again because of the readily available calibers and an eager collecting public hungry for new watch references.
On the other hand, in the mid-1990s, a new generation of watchmakers started to revive watchmaking dialogues from the 17th and 18th centuries, some of them also introduced the use of CAD design software, computer-automated tool machining, and eventually 3D printing to the industry.
This rebirth of a golden age of watchmaking brought to market revolutionary movement constructions and finally allowed for distinctive looks, exemplified by 1998’s radical Vianney Halter Antiqua.
With the Gravity Equal Force, Armin Strom is exploring new territory, conceiving of a full watch with the fundamental functionalist approach more widely known in modernist architecture and industrial design circles.
Functionalism As An Innovation
With Serge Michel (Founder) and Claude Greisler (Co-Founder) at the helm, Armin Strom’s team is venturing into terra incognita with the Gravity Equal Force, focusing all their research and development on reducing the components to their primary and fundamental uses. It is quite remarkable because applying this kind of radical functionalism to an entire watch conception is extremely uncommon in watchmaking.
The process of creating an essential object was probably best defined by the German industrial designer Dieter Rams’ famous phrase “Weniger, aber besser," which means "Less, but better." Chief of design at Braun from 1961-1995, Rams was one of the first to prove that a functionalist approach to design could achieve undebatable success. Rams is also well known for his 10 principles of good design:
1. Good design is innovative
2. Good design makes a product useful
3. Good design is aesthetic
4. Good design helps us to understand a product
5. Good design is unobtrusive
6. Good design is honest
7. Good design is long lasting
8. Good design is includes every detail
9. Good design is concerned with the environment
Back To The Primary Function
With Rams’ radical essentialist concepts in mind, Claude Greisler and the Armin Strom team designed and developed the Gravity Equal Force with one guiding desire: to achieve accuracy through consistent power delivery to the balance spring.
By defining the primary function of the Gravity Equal Force at the very start of the design process, Armin Strom gave this new time-only watch a state-of-the-art, yet fundamentalist design, featuring a low-friction rotation axis on the mainspring which delivers a constant stable flow of power from the barrel.
Three floating half-bridges are the only parts that support the energy chain. With architectural minimalism and a characteristic suppression of non-functionalist elements, they deliver equal force to the regulating system using a stop-works declutch mechanism ingeniously added to the barrel itself in order to deliver a stable power to the balance and escapement.
In a continuation of the Armin Strom tradition of skeleton watches, the Gravity Equal Force embodies the brand's approach to contemporary watchmaking by offering a radical industrial design merged with watchmaking innovation to create a simple but accurate timepiece.
The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force, featuring a 41mm stainless steel case and new Caliber ASB19, is the first model of the new System 78 Collection and is available for CHF 16,900.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)