Truth be told, it was quite a shock to hear about the Resonance Minute Repeater from Armin Strom, since it seems that it was only late last year when we first saw the Dual Time Resonance for the first time, followed not too long after that at SIHH 2019 by the Dual Time Resonance in Sapphire.
In fact, when one thinks about it, one realises in astonishment that the Resonance Minute Repeater is actually the fourth ‘resonance’ watch in a very nice family of watches already, effectively making the original Mirrored Force Resonance from 2016, less a one-off experiment and more a launching pad for a full blown collection.
Armin Strom has certainly been very productive these past few years, and the direction that they have been pursuing has been paying off. By carving out a unique niche for themselves as the specialist in ‘resonance’ based watches, they have been able to decisively and conclusively stamp their mark on this unique genre, leaving no doubt that when one thinks of the ‘resonance’ phenomenon in horology now, no other brand comes to mind as forcefully as Armin Strom.
The Minute Repeater Resonance, as the name tells us in a straightforward way, combines the signature ‘resonance’ inducing Clutch Spring of Armin Strom with a minute repeater. The first thing to realise about this fact is that many brands already have minute repeaters, but only one other aside from Armin Strom has ‘resonance’. The means that this Minute Repeater Resonance could very well be the first in a series of other firsts. I mean, just imagine it, who else could produce from now on, a Resonance Chronograph, a Resonance Double Tourbillon* or, maybe even as Serge Michel, CEO of Armin Strom suggested, a Resonance Diver.
But back to the watch under discussion here, the Minute Repeater Resonance is the world’s first and only resonance chiming wristwatch, offering two forms of resonance (oscillators and sound propagation); two independent mainsprings in one barrel; two vertically-stacked independent movements; and two complications, resonance and minute repeater. Lastly as well, two top development teams in Armin Strom (resonance) and Le Cercle des Horlogers (repeaters).
On that last point, it was Armin Strom’s Chief Watchmaker, Claude Greisler who sought the expertise of an old friend and former colleague at Christophe Claret, Alain Schiesser, founder of Cercle des Horlogers, with regards to the development of the minute repeater portion of the watch. Having worked behind the scenes for many prestigious brands over the years, his company, Le Cercle des Horlogers has helped to develop around half of the minute repeaters launched over the last few years.
Looking at the watch, you can see what has been done to these complications in order to achieve what I would consider a very sublime design that showcases what the watch can do well. For the first time, we have the time indication sub-dial, right smack in the centre of the watch (as opposed to off to the side with the Mirrored Force Resonance and Pure Resonance or with two time indicating dials on the Dual Time Resonance), with the Armin Strom Clutch Spring right below it, which is connected to the two balance wheels that are themselves each held on by a large tremblage hand-engraved decorated gold balance cock hand on either side.
The symmetry doesn’t stop there, for the space above the watch contains two hammers, that are placed to hit, when the watch chimes, the steel wire gongs that circle the time sub-dial. Also of note, visible right underneath the time sub-dual, the centrifugal governor, a device that regulates the “going train” of the repeater mechanism.
It is a very beautiful arrangement of elements on the front presentation of the watch, with the minute repeater slide on the left side of the case, balanced off by a correspondingly large and meaty crown on the right.
With the hammers on the dial side, you might wonder, if you’re familiar with minute repeaters where its mechanism is, and for that you’ve got to turn the watch over. Now, obviously, most minute repeater hammers are situated next to their mechanism, but here, because of the aesthetics that Armin Strom was going for, wanting to place all the animated parts up front, one of the challenges was to invert the traditional layout of the minute repeater works. Their solution: use pinions to drive the repeater hammers and the hour and minutes transversing the two vertically stacked calibres.
On that last point, yes, there are two calibres inside the watch, since each has to have its own gear train connected to each balance wheel. Each calibre of course has to be connected to its own mainspring barrel, and for that, unlike the previous resonance watches where there was space to have two separate barrels, in this case, Armin Strom have engineered a single barrel that contains two mainsprings inside. It’s like a city that builds upwards instead of sidewards because land is limited.
So it begs the question, since there is only one set of hour and minute hands, with not even a two seconds hands to check if the two balance wheels are in sync, where does the time display come from – one or both of the gear trains?
Turns out we don’t have to look far for the answer since the Pure Resonance does this part the same way as the Minute Repeater Resonance. Aside from the visual enjoyment that the dual balance wheels and the Clutch Spring provides, the resonance system has always been about precision. In the Pure Resonance, the time display receives energy from the lower regulator, while the upper regulator remains in place to create resonance. In the Minute Repeater Resonance, it is the right regulator that does the former and the left regulator that does the latter.
On the wrist, the 47.7mm wide case is large, and with the 16.1mm thick case, the watch will certainly make a big statement. Yet it is not too big to be unwearable – the dimensions are about the same as one of the bigger Breitlings after all – and the titanium case helps to keep things manageable as well as sound projection good.
Speaking of the sound, how does it sound?
The Minute Repeater Resonance is offered in a limited series of 10 pieces in Grade 5 titanium with the limitation number chosen in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Manufacture.
So what’s next Armin Strom? How far can you bring resonance further?
*Since the resonance system involves two balance wheels