The best thing of being a journalist when talking about watches is the wide variety of beautiful timepieces we get to test-drive. A big part of writing a watch review of course is that we receive the item, wear it for a few days, weeks (in this case months) and then pen our impressions, thoughts, and feelings in connection to the watch. Is it comfortable? Is it worth the money? Is it, God forbid, accurate? These, and more, are all question we all have to keep in mind. As you know we tend to focus on the affordable watches, we’d like to call it the sub-€5000 category. While you can argue that even €5000 is not affordable but astronomically high for some, it is indeed an amount that can get you a whole lot of different watches without actually breaking the bank. Of course for every guy that likes an affordable watch there are the ones who can buy the more expensive options. This watch falls into the later category with its whopping 33.000 CHF retail price.
Armin Strom Pure Earth
Armin Strom is an independent brand from Switzerland. They are not new to Fratello Watches readers. You probably saw our event report from the Gumball party in Amsterdam or Robert-Jan’s Armin Strom One Week Water Hands-On from a while back. Our friends over at Hodinkee also covered one of their watches and believe it or not the founding father Mr. Armin Strom was even featured in one of the episodes of Speedy Tuesday. It was during the aforementioned Gumball event that, for the second time, I got mesmerized by the design of these watches. I am a vintage guy, to be fair every time a modern piece tempts me I think about all the vintage watches I could acquire. This watch however is something I would be happy to add to my collections. The watch in question is the Armin Strom Skeleton Pure Earth.
The Skeleton Pure collection consists of 4 different watches, each produced in a limited number of 100 pieces. They symbolize the 4 elements; Pure Fire in 18kt Gold case, Pure Water in stainless steel, Pure Air in titanium and my subject the Pure Earth in PVD coated titanium case. The Armin Strom Pure Earth is pretty large at 43mm yet it does not feel uncomfortably big on the wrist. I wore it every day to the office for weeks, around and about in the city during the weekend even traveled with it on a 7-hour long train ride. Due to the titanium case and leather strap it is unnoticeable on the wrist. The height of the case is 13mm so not extremely thick and because of the black color it even wears smaller then it actually is. The titanium case and the leather strap make it very light. The watch is fully skeletonized, if you take it off and hold it up against the light you can see through it, and what a view that is. The heart of the watch is Armin Strom’s in-house caliber, the ARM09-S. It is a 34 Jewel, manual wind, double barrel movement with 146 individual parts and 8 days of power reserve. This is framed by the PVD black titanium case with sapphire crystal and case back.
Since the watch has no dial the founded indices are placed on a sapphire dial ring around the inner rim of the case. There are no numbers on it either. You find the second hand at the 9 o’clock and under the second hand towards the center of the watch the little hand with the red tip shows you the power reserve. You have the usual hour and minute hands in stainless steel (with Super Lumi-nova) and the brand name also on the ring at the 3 o’clock. It is obvious that the whole watch was designed to bring the viewer’s attention to the movement. The center of every Armin Strom watch is the visibility of entire watch movement and this is exactly the case with this watch too. To the untrained eyes it could look busy at first but the more you stare at it the easier it gets to read time. I found something interesting every time I looked at it. My advice is to source a loupe it’s even more fun that way. Flipping the watch over to view the back is equally fascinating. You have a full total view of the two barrels.
The Armin Strom Pure Earth watch is – unfortunately – not in the affordable category. For this kind of money there are numerous high-end watches you can buy from vintage Rolex Daytonas to brand new Patek Philipes. However if you do a bit of a research, if you understand the essence of true independent watchmaking and if you appreciate the materials, the technicality this watch bears then you might want to consider buying it. This is something you won’t see in the flesh too often, that much I can guarantee. It’s a statement watch though, in case you want to send one. For a statement that says: ‘I know my watches! Do you?’