Since the creation of their first totally in-house movement a few years ago, Swiss watch maker Armin Strom has been offering a unique variety of beautiful high-end sports watches with a surprising level of detailing and expert decoration. Here are two models in their Tourbillon Collection, which represent the higher-end of what is available. We have here the Tourbillon Racing as well as the Tourbillon Earth (ref. ST13-TE.90 from the Elements collection). There are also Tourbillon Fire and Air models each with their own distinct case materials and colors. Note that the Tourbillon Racing is part of a limited edition of, we think, two watches.
So what was I doing at Frederique Constant with a reader, taking valuable watchmaker space? Watch brands don't just invite people to occupy their production space to play around with watch making. It isn't something you can pay for, and even company employees and VIP collectors only get access to special outside workshops and classes. We however sat among the other watchmakers during business as normal trying to quickly learn the ins and outs of movement assembly. It was part of a giveaway we did back in December of 2012 where (among other things), I was to join a lucky reader in Geneva and make a timepiece at Frederique Constant. It was a rare treat and doing so was a novel experience for both myself, the reader, and the people at Frederique Constant.
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we'd recommend it to first: Absolute tool watch lover who secretly loves the idea that a rather nondescript timepieces comes form the same place Rolexes do.
>Best characteristic of watch: Well-conceived and meticulously designed diver with almost no technical flaws that hearkens to what the original Submariner once aspired to be.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Not a showy watch for mainstream timepiece buyers looking for something to boast about. Or maybe that is its best part?
Vintage Rolex watches exist in bounty, but can be marked by extremely high prices depending on their rarity. Also note that compared to today's average men's wrist watch size, vintage Rolex models tend to be quite small. In fact, today's average Rolex is of "moderate" size compared to other watches (though that fact is changing, as Rolex steadily releases larger watches). Having said that, owning a good quality vintage sport or dress Rolex model can be very rewarding in both style and "cool" factor. Having a vintage Rolex Submariner, for example, is not only often less expensive than a brand new model, but is certainly more hip. They also aren't so small as to appear like ladies watches much of the time.
Then, there is the location of the manufacture in Glashütte Germany, arguably the second most important place for fine watch-making after Switzerland. Indeed, this is a place that has something of a mystical air, coming as it has into prominence more recently. In fact, Nomos counts among its neighbours in the small town of Glashütte, other notable brands like A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original.
A major question though remains unanswered. Beyond the war on numbers, axes and overall complexity, just what is so peculiar about these Gyrotourbillons that makes them so extraordinary? To understand this, before all else, one should closely study the photographs in this article. From anything as accessible as mere aesthetics to as subtle as the way the driving force travels into and within the cages, the chances to find something that moves one’s mind are more than generous. At a second stage, the visual stimulations proven to be sufficiently attractive, they have taken the time to rethink the entire the mechanism and improve the level of execution and the overall outcome. It had clearly been a tremendous undertaking merely to find the way the Gyrotourbillon could possibly work. And, at one whole other level, to finally make it through a limited, yet sustainable production run. The apparent ease of the movement at work and the sheer beauty that the complexity and lightweight components create are, to me at least, the main elements responsible for the striking and arresting nature of this terrific timepiece.
There's just something appealing about the stark aesthetic espoused by the Bauhaus design ethos, and NOMOS is just one of those brands that embodies it well, to my way of thinking. They've introduced several new models this year at Basel (see our writeup here on the new NOMOS 38 series), and I came across another one that surprised me a bit.