Since 2009, when Armin Strom’s fully-integrated Manufacture was opened in Bienne, the brand has been creating increasingly more intriguing timepieces, much to the joy of its fans and clients. For the 10th anniversary of its manufacture, it decided to go all out and combine its expertise in Resonance with a chiming minute repeater, produced in a limited series of 10 pieces.
The minute repeater idea was inspired by the city of Bern’s famous clock, the Zytglogge. This 13th century clock has served the city for over 500 years and the tower served as a reference point for travel times indicated on stone markers along the canton’s main streets. Legend has it that it also helped Albert Einstein hone his special theory of relativity while working as a patent clerk in the city.
What makes the clock one of the city’s most popular attractions is its many automatons that never fail to draw a crowd throughout the day. Four minutes before the change of the hour, a cock crows, a bear (the symbol of Bern) makes his rounds, and a jester announces the hour, amusingly in advance. The clock also chimes on the hour and on every quarter, informing the city’s inhabitants of the time, day and night.
Incorporating chimes into a watch requires a particular savoir-faire, and for this Armin Strom called upon experts at the Cercle des Horlogers, who have developed around half of all the minute repeaters that have been produced these last few years.
Adding a minute repeater to an existing movement wasn’t possible due to the lack of space, so everything had to be rethought. The Armin Strom team decided to put the minute repeater mechanism on full view on the dial side of the watch, along with the resonance mechanism. Everything is skeletonized, in true Armin Strom style, plunging the eye deep into the movement.
Another interesting feature of this movement is that to give equal attention to the minute repeater and the resonance, the team inverted them so the pinions driving the repeater hammers and the hour and minutes traverse the two vertically stacked calibers.
The resonance complication remains in full view and makes this timepiece extremely precise and accurate. It works by having two independent movements that fall into synchronisation. It can be compared to an adult pushing a child on a swing. If the adult pushes at the wrong frequency, either too fast or too slow, then this blocks the motion and slows the swing down. But if the adult pushes at the same natural frequency, the swing will increase in amplitude.
In watchmaking, resonance and synchronised motion has fascinated watchmakers for hundreds of years. It was invented by Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) and expanded on by Antide Janvier (1751-1855) and Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823). It is now Armin Strom’s turn to be inspired by this phenomenon and it is has developed a patented Resonance Clutch System that improves on the technology. The Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique has officially certified that this new system creates true resonance, creating a new chapter in the history of this incredible technology.
Whatever way you look at it, it is a beautiful timepiece and a great way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Armin Strom’s manufacture.