Armin Strom has been making a nice habit of surprising watch collectors in the last few years. Notwithstanding their family of Resonance watches that have arisen, they even come up with the very nice Gravity Equal Force, a watch that signalled a new direction for the brand in terms of genre and accessibility.
Well, today was another surprise, with the introduction of the Tribute 1, a watch that the brand bills as “A Contrarian Bet On A Modern Dress Watch Revival” as stated in their press release.
We all know the story, there’s really no getting around the fact that the appeal of dress watches has taken a beating given our modern era where casual attire is accepted most times, not to mention the effect of the current pandemic, with no formal events or work meetings to attend where a nice dress watch would be appropriate.
In this context, says Serge Michel, co-founder, the Tribute 1 can be seen as “an expression of hope (to normality) – and a meaningful connection to both the past and the future”.
I can get behind that. There’s nothing like a good dress watch to help straighten out the posture and behave respectfully in the presence of good company, at least for me. It certainly helps to take the edge off the hyper masculine induced aura of a 300m diver.
So the Tribute 1 comes, as you would expect all good dress watches to have, with great attention to finishing. The barrel bridge, which is one of the main dial side features and specially offered in white gold for this iteration, is hand polished, requiring a minimum of 12 hours to complete.
The same attention has been brought to the other parts of the watch – look at the bevelling on the gear train bridge, balance cock and stepped escaped wheel cock on the back side. Also note the hand polished barrel and the Côtes de Genève with polished jewel sinks.
All this brings me neatly to what would inevitably come to mind when you first look at the design of the Tribute 1. Aside from the emphasis on hand-finishing, the Tribute 1 also resembles, in spirit and aesthetics, the Lange 1 from A. Lange & Sohne.
There’s no denying it, there’s the similarity of the off-centered time sub-dial indicator, the open case back view with the lavish finish, the similar size (38mm vs 35.5mm) and the long power reserve (100 vs 72 hours).
Yet there are enough differences to make the Tribute 1 its own thing. Of course, it doesn’t have the big date display, power reserve indicator or a small seconds sub-dial of the Lange 1. Instead it has its crown at the 2 o’clock position, with its central seconds located within the time sub-dial. In this way, by paring back the features, the Tribute 1 adheres closely to its stated intention of being a modern dress watch.
And what do us snobs want in a proper dress watch? No complications, only the time.
So aside from the time sub-dial, the remaining space on the dial is reserved for the highly efficient motor barrel which is unusual in that the arbor turns around the mainspring within the barrel itself. This conserves space for the barrel within the movement, which is a nice technically distinctive feature. It’s great that while it is given pride of place on the dial side, it doesn’t call attention to itself.
The Tribute 1 as I have discovered as well, wears quite similarly to the Lange 1. How do I know this? Well, it’s the first time that I’ve received a 3D printed rendition of a watch. Nice idea Armin Strom – I’m keeping this one!
While it’s no replacement for the real thing, it is useful for assessing the wearability of the watch, which is definitely one of the factors that is important in determining if it is right for you. My conclusion is that it wears similarly to the Lange 1. There are some slight dimensional differences – the lugs of the Lange 1 are a touch longer, but the round of the case is slightly smaller, but all in all, they both feel similar, with the Tribute 1 I suspect, being a touch lighter due to its thinner case (9 vs 9.8mm) and being in stainless steel instead of gold or platinum.
The Tribute 1 is offered in this launch version at a limitation of 25 pieces for a surprisingly accessible price of CHF 13,400 which is a comparative bargain all things considered.
Aside from that, I think this offering from Armin Strom has the real possibility of disrupting the manual winding dress watch category by offering an alternative to those from established players. Afterall, it has all the important features that most buyers of a watch like this will be looking for, with a modern edge in its design.
Armin Strom manufacture Caliber AMW21; Manual Winding; 100 hours power reserve; 3.5 Hz (25,200 vph); 135 components.
Hours, minutes, seconds
Offset Black gold
Stainless steel, 5ATM Water resistant
38mm wide; 9mm thick
Grey Alcantara calf leather strap and double folding clasp in stainless steel
CHF 13,900, Limited to 25 pieces