The newest watch from Armin Strom demonstrates one of the brand’s core principles: always innovate. Boldly redesigning the brand’s typical movement, dial and case, Lady Beat marks a milestone of the new System 78 Collection, which highlights innovative watchmaking at a competitive price.
The latest no-compromise watch from the Biel-based manufacture is a decidedly feminine one, but one exuding the technical look and feel of the genuine manufacture movement powering every Armin Strom timepiece.
Lady Beat’s design features differentiated aesthetics that make it wholly unique and feminine. And this is thanks to the fact that the men behind Armin Strom know their boundaries: instead of using the brand’s testosterone-influenced in-house design, the company (wisely) consulted freelance designers of the opposite sex to ensure authenticity and a decidedly feminine feel.
Lady Beat features an off-center dial and slimmer new case with a much smaller diameter. The 38 mm case diameter of Lady Beat is a first at Armin Strom, hitting the sizing sweet spot of many women.
The highlight of the front of this watch is the visible triplet of bridges echoing the pocket watch inspiration behind Caliber ALA20, just one of many mechanical elements visible on the dial.
The contemporary dimensions maintain the essence of Armin Strom DNA while shaping a new aesthetic that showcases the brand’s love for reduction to the essential, enhancing legibility, and maximizing the user experience for discerning female collectors, enthusiasts, and casual wearers.
The Armin Strom Lady Beat is the very first model created specifically for women by this Swiss manufacture. It features a stainless-steel case and is priced at CHF 16,900.
Lady Beat inspiration
Lady Beat is the manufacture’s answer to finally serving women also interested in fine mechanics.
Technical head Claude Greisler and owner Serge Michel felt that the time was precisely right to include women in Armin Strom’s high-quality Swiss made offerings. “There is more to discover with this watch than women are used to,” Greisler opines. “Our passion for visible mechanics is also evident at first glance here.” Greisler refers to the brand’s history in skeletonization and open worked movements, a consistent leitmotif continued in Lady Beat.
While the inspiration for this watch originated with Greisler and Michel, they wisely collaborated with two women very well acquainted with designing watches for other women. It was important to the two male company founders that they collaborate with female professionals, one of which had previously been a product manager for a well-positioned company famous for feminine watches and jewelry, as they judiciously recognized they were not qualified by themselves to create such a sophisticated, ambitious, and challenging product for the opposite sex on their own. This watch is by women for women without men in the middle interpreting. And these women understand the fascination of Armin Strom. “We listen to women,” said Greisler. “We listen to all our customers.”
Armin Strom had been experiencing great demand for a watch like this for quite some time, but the team hadn’t been sure how to go about it until now nor had it wanted to overextend its capacities. With the new collaboration team in place, the first thing to do was make a shape analysis. What they found was that softer shapes were the order of the day, perhaps something moon inspired.
And it had to be a celebration of mechanical transparency.
It has only been ten years since Greisler and Michel re-founded Armin Strom, transforming the brand into a real manufacture focused on making its own timepieces. This is such a short amount of time in which to have achieved so many highlights – manufacture base movements, tourbillon movements, and the celebrated resonance movement of the Mirrored Force Resonance and its offshoots. The founders are cautious, clever, and sensibly work at their own pace. And this natural progression now leads to a fabulous watch just for women. “It would not have been right or good to rush this watch,” Greisler is sure.
“Good design is honest and functional,” Greisler says of the manufacture’s latest creation. “It does not need makeup to be attractive.” But there is an Armin Strom-typical element that increases its attractivity: Lady Beat can be customized in color and other elements in the Armin Strom online Configurator. “We know that colors are so important to women,” Greisler continues, “so we offer plenty of choice.”
Lady Beat’s particular challenge
Lady Beat was conceived from the get-go to be a technical ladies’ watch, which meant that the concept had to be holistic and not just a shrunk-down men’s watch, which is the most commonly traveled route for creating timepieces for women in the watch industry. But Armin Strom never does things like everyone else; this manufacture prefers to work from the ground up every time.
The watch’s winding is automatic for maximum comfort. The visible micro rotor from Gravity Equal Force was redeveloped into a full-sized central rotor on the back to ensure more winding power and a long power reserve. “While a man might think it’s cool to watch the rotor make its eternal revolutions winding the watch on the front, we collectively didn’t feel that women would be as interested in watching the winding system at work.”
Finally, though technical, the entire watch should still exude a feminine feel – and that without resorting to diamonds and mother-of-pearl to “prettify” it. This watch should not be a compromise of any sort: it is unapologetically for women, but in the minimalist Armin Strom style.
“The most complicated part of making this watch was trying to get into the heads of our potential female customers,” Greisler laughed.
Lady Beat development
Working with the female design consultants, the Armin Strom team decided to orient Lady Beat’s look on Gravity Equal Force to both build on and highlight the freshly launched System 78 collection. “What does a woman desire on her wrist?” This all-important question was answered in typical Armin Strom method: by examining the brand’s own values and combining them with new thoughts and practices.
While the base idea is rooted in Gravity Equal Force, and the movement remains the centerpiece of any Armin Strom watch, the mechanics have been reordered to ensure both the svelte, wearable character of the watch and to put the spotlight on mechanical dial animation. The previous case design has been trimmed down even further from the already relatively lithe proportions of Gravity Equal Force (as compared to the rest of Armin Strom’s line) to create the first 38-millimeter case at Armin Strom.
Greisler and the two female designers very quickly settled on a watch filled with soft shapes: the normally very classic lugs of an Armin Strom watch were cast aside in favor of an integrated strap, and the overall look is filled with circles and semi-circles rather than the angular shapes generally associated with this classically male brand. “These soft, moon-like shapes fill the optics of this watch,” Greisler said. Look closely and you will see a half-moon-shaped plate sharing the watch’s lower level with the mechanical elements, while a full moon-shaped subdial sits atop it.
Another example is that the dial no longer has numerals, but rather more softness thanks to a reduced logo that simultaneously functions as the 12 o’clock marker. Visible screws holding the undulating, patterned dial to the plate below remain visible, though, reminding us unmistakably that this is a technical oeuvre by Armin Strom.
The second hand, which can quickly turn a watch into more of an instrument, has also been foregone here in favor of a clean look. There is no shortage of technical elements on the dial: first and foremost, the visible balance with its mesmerizing rotations practically occupy the position of honor on the dial. The indications, on the other hand, are off-center, as is often the case at Armin Strom, and given less focus than the watch’s beating heart.
Conceived from the get-go to be a technical ladies’ watch, the movement was redeveloped to bring the balance, the beating heart of any watch, to the front of the watch where it is visible at any time. Its hypnotizing movement also allows the wearer to see at a glance whether the watch is running. “I like to produce animated watches,” Greisler explains of this choice. “The wearer should be able to see life in the watch immediately; that it is running, breathing.”
Additionally, the team removed the ingenious stop-works declutch system and motor barrel design crafted to transmit equal force to the balance from Gravity Equal Force’s movement to minimize Lady Beat’s movement height and keep its dimensions svelte. And, finally, the team decided to remove the running seconds, deciding that they distracted from the beauty of and focus on the balance in motion, the watch’s pulse.
“This collection had to be coherent, consistent, and harmonious for it to function within Armin Strom,” Greisler sums up. “It could not be a rush job, but needed our full attention. By having women practically make it for other women, we took the onus off ourselves of having to second guess our instincts and possibly making hasty mistakes.”