Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance: Simplifying With Complexity

Quill & Pad
Nov 4, 2018 · 10 min read

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by Joshua Munchow
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Design is a fickle thing. Sometimes the best way forward is reducing complexity so that a design can shine without being overwhelmed by details. But other times addition is the only thing that can make something simpler. For example, let’s look at the claw hammer.

The claw hammer was designed to simplify a task by reducing the tools needed and expanding the capabilities of the simple hammer. The oldest hammers are just that — hammers that have a large heavy body and flat surface with which to hit something.

It works wonders when all you need to do is smash something. But if you are hammering nails, there are circumstances where you might need to pull a nail out or pry apart the thing you are nailing together.

If all you had was a basic hammer, then you would also need a crowbar or other pry tool. So not only would you have to carry two tools to get the job done, but you might constantly be switching back and forth between them. The claw hammer took the capabilities and features of a pry bar and added them to the opposite side of the hammer so it became two (or more) tools in one.

Added complexity in one place was a trade-off for simplicity in another. It is often the case that the design must increase in complexity to simplify the task for which it is being designed. In the best cases, new features or functions are discovered when complexity is increased, such as the ability to use a claw hammer as a miniature pickax.

So while complexity is often an undesirable outcome, in other circumstances it is a welcome and integral part of the design process.

I believe independent watch brand Armin Strom understands this and has demonstrated as much with its new release, the Dual Time Resonance. This watch sees the Resonance concept from the brand expanded for a different function of simplicity than its sibling, the Pure Resonance, and has grown into a formidable mechanical wonder for the wrist.

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1: Dual Time Resonance
Armin Strom Masterpiece 1: Dual Time Resonance

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1: Dual Time Resonance

The new direction shows creativity and the willingness to add a bit of complexity in search of a better way to utilize the concept.

Second dial, third style for the Armin Strom Resonance

The Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance is part of an entirely new line: the Masterpiece collection. As the inaugural timepiece, it holds the distinction of bearing the title Masterpiece 1 and sets a new direction for the brand.

But the new style isn’t just about adding complexity or milking a concept for all it is worth; it is about honestly exploring ways to create more function from a mechanical concept that has just barely been explored by the watch industry at large.

The resonance concept as a whole is one of the least explored systems in all of horology. Due to the difficulty of construction and the relative benefits overall, most brands and watchmakers have avoided building a resonance watch, and so possible iterations are still almost unexplored.

The Dual Time Resonance is akin to the F.P. Journe Resonance in that it features twin dials driven by the two resonating gear trains, but the concept is closer in spirit to Beat Haldimann’s H2 Flying Resonance, where balance springs are linked mechanically.

But the Dual Time Resonance grabs the resonance baton and runs with it, taking the brand, and taking Armin Strom, to a new level of presenting its research.

Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance Fire
Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance Fire

Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance Fire

The original movement of the Mirrored Force Resonance had two gear trains connecting to a single hour-and-minute dial while showing each gear train’s running seconds separately.

Armin Strom Pure Resonance
Armin Strom Pure Resonance

Armin Strom Pure Resonance

The Pure Resonance eliminated one running-second dial for a visually simpler display, but now the movements are separate aside from the single connection point of the Resonance Clutch Spring. This means that each of the movements run completely independently for timekeeping, and resonance increases the isochronism and rate stabilization of each.

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1: Dual Time Resonance
Armin Strom Masterpiece 1: Dual Time Resonance

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance

These two independent movements allow for one dial to be used for home time, the other as a second time zone (or a GMT reference) or, as stated by the brand, a countdown timer or a passive minute and hour chronograph. There is a center subdial showing a 24-hour display with two hands driven by each movement (with corresponding steel or pink gold finish), making it clear which dial is set for which time.

Since the time displays are independent of each other, any use can be applied to the second dial while ensuring that both are equally consistent thanks to the Resonance Clutch Spring.

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance on the wrist
Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance on the wrist

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance on the wrist

Style derived by the Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance form

This layout is driven largely by the construction of a movement that is perfectly symmetrical. The only differences between the left and right side come from two closeout plates and the main dial plate on the front of the movement. They differ mainly in which closes out which part of the gear trains and where the screws end up as a result.

Armin Strom Caliber ARF17 with two independent movements in resonance
Armin Strom Caliber ARF17 with two independent movements in resonance

Armin Strom Caliber ARF17 with two independent movements in resonance

This is the only divergence from a perfectly symmetrical watch (that is visible from the outside) and doesn’t affect the layout one bit. With the dial in place, there are no visual clues that there isn’t perfect symmetry to the Dual Time Resonance.

View through the display back of the Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance on the wrist
View through the display back of the Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance on the wrist

View through the display back of the Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance

And that style goes a long way from the Pure Resonance, which reduced the vertical symmetry of the original Mirrored Force Resonance. There is something about a perfectly symmetrical watch that changes how you view it and makes it feel effortless to understand.

Our eyes like symmetry — it is evolutionarily programmed into us — so when a timepiece can achieve a perfect, mirrored layout, it will stand out as something that seems complete or finished. That symmetry helps the wearer to use the watch more efficiently, and so the dual time becomes easier to use compared to the co-axial display seen on many GMT pieces.

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance
Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance

Symmetry also makes for a watch that stands out more. When you are investing in a piece of horology with this much going on, it would be a shame for it to go unnoticed in a quiet and unremarkable package. The dual-dial display with twin, mirrored balances will catch the eye, entertaining your own peepers anytime you need to check your wrist for the time.

Core concept of the Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance

But it all comes back to the invention driving this dual display: the Resonance Clutch Spring. This is, and always will be, the star of any resonance watch by Armin Strom. The substantial research and development behind the innovation deserves to be utilized to its full potential.

Armin Strom truly developed a mechanism as good as gold. Since it is only one of, at most, three resonance watches in production (depending on what F.P. Journe and Beat Haldimann are working on), it is an ambassador for an entire area of physics study and a gateway into complex theories of horology for the more passive watch enthusiast.

That is a huge responsibility if you take horology seriously (which Armin Strom does), so it allows for nearly endless possibilities to utilize such an amazing mechanism. New ideas for what a resonance movement can accomplish can be dreamed up every day, and there will be more ideas than time to attempt them all.

That truth is probably what makes me the most excited about the Dual Time Resonance and Armin Strom’s continued pursuit of the concept. Neither Haldimann nor Journe have gone to any great lengths to expand upon the concept through the years and may never try.

It is very hard as an independent watchmaker to work on such a finicky concept when it is much easier to build simple things like tourbillons or split-second chronographs (not a hyperbolic statement), so I am thrilled that a brand with full production capabilities like Armin Strom is continuing on this path.

I think the Dual Time Resonance is a fantastic example of the possibilities of the resonance mechanism, and based on the three current iterations of the Resonance concept it seems clear that Armin Strom has no immediate intentions of letting it fade to the background.

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance
Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance

And that is probably why Armin Strom is positioned so well as an independent brand. The core business is built on very cool and customizable pieces at (relatively) competitive prices that might appeal to a broader range of collectors.

But Armin Strom also understands that overdoing the marketing and heritage angle and having tons of special editions or extravagant products will only cost it revenue and likely not add to its bottom line. The resonance concept is the most extravagant complexity from the brand, but it still feels natural and measured.

Honestly, it just feels right for the brand. I wouldn’t be surprised if it brings more fans into the fold and expands the brand’s reach for its more mainstream models.

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance on the wrist
Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance on the wrist

Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time Resonance on the wrist

I urge you to take another long look at the Dual Time Resonance and its predecessors to better understand a cool function of physics and an awesomely independent brand. I think it will be worth it!

But before you go, check out the breakdown!

  • Wowza Factor * 9.4 Any large dual time watch makes some people go wow, but when it is the Dual Time Resonance it wows even harder!
  • Late Night Lust Appeal * 94.1 » 922.805m/s2 How many times have I found myself browsing through press photos in the wee hours of the morning? A lot, that is for sure. And the time spent with this piece was definitely one of the better times!
  • M.G.R. * 71.2 Not much is going to beat a resonance movement, and this one is no exception!
  • Added-Functionitis * Moderate Outside of its awesome movement, it does have a second time zone, two power reserve displays, and a 24-hour dial, which makes for a decently complicated piece. I would recommend extra strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the perfectly in-sync swelling!
  • Ouch Outline * 12.1 Accidentally shocking yourself with a welder! Always, ALWAYS, make sure you are not creating a shorter pathway from the electrode to the ground cable when welding, lest you find yourself lighting up like Marv in Home Alone 2. Still, if I could ensure no lasting damage I might take that jolt again if it meant getting this watch on my wrist!
  • Mermaid Moment * Immediate! It doesn’t take long to fall head over heels here: I’ve already booked a DJ and the florist!
  • Awesome Total * 946.1 Multiply the diameter in millimeters in the long direction (59) with the thickness (15.9), and add the number of pieces being made (8) and you find one symmetrically balanced awesome total!

For more information, please visit www.arminstrom.com/en/collection/model/10dual-time-resonance.

Quick Facts Armin Strom Dual Time Resonance: Masterpiece 1
Case: 59 x 43.4 x 15.9 mm, titanium
Movement: manual winding Caliber ARF17 with two resonant movements
Functions: hours, minutes; second time zone, 24-hour display, double power reserve
Price: CHF 180,000

You may also enjoy:

A Watchmaker’s Technical Look At The Mirrored Force Resonance Fire By Armin Strom: A Dual-Balance Watch With A Difference

A Synchronistic Technical Tour De Force: Armin Strom’s Mirrored Force Resonance

Armin Strom Pure Resonance: Less Really Is More And That Resonates

Understanding Resonance, Featuring The F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance, Armin Strom Mirrored Force Resonance, And Haldimann H2 Flying ResonanceA Watchmaker’s Technical Look At The Mirrored Force Resonance Fire By Armin Strom: A Dual-Balance Watch With A Difference
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Originally published at Quill & Pad.

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