INTRODUCING: Armin Strom Tribute 1 Fumé
The independent watchmaker’s alternative dress watch gets an aesthetic update.
When Armin Strom launched its Tribute 1 in 2021, we couldn’t help but do a double take at the entry-level three-hander from the independent watchmaker. After all, the brand is best known for its highly technical timepieces that showcase its mastery in engraving and skeletonisation, a legacy that dates back to its founding in 1967. Its namesake founder even earned a Guinness Book World Record in 1990 for producing the world’s smallest hand-skeletonised watch. That said, the surprise release proved successful, with all 25 pieces of the first edition quickly snapped up, and the company finally has a classic – by Armin Strom’s standards, at least – dress watch in its stable. Appearing in various incarnations since, the Tribute 1 is now available in four different fumé dials, each limited to only 10 pieces.
As much as we appreciate the astounding complexities of Armin Strom’s modern timepieces, such as the Dual Time Resonance and the Gravity Equal Force, the Tribute 1 was like a breath of fresh air from the brand. The co-owners of the revitalised Manufacture, Serge Michel and Claude Greisler, aimed to offer their unique take on a time-only manual-winding dress watch with it, and they nailed it. The latter shares: “The Tribute 1 is a twist on the classic dress watch – literally. From its slender 38 mm steel case with the crown unusually positioned at 2 o’clock to the off-centred small dial displaying the hours, minutes and seconds, there’s harmony in its asymmetry. Like all Armin Strom creations, there’s something mechanical and quite ingenious to be admired from the dial side.”
Fans of Armin Strom would probably find the Tribute 1 Fumé a tad familiar as it is almost identical to the California-dialled version, which was unveiled in late 2021. The new release, however, returns the Tribute 1 to its original dress-watch intent, ditching the Roman and Arabic numerals for baton indexes. The offset dial comes in four colours – burgundy, sky, ocean, and slate – each with a gradient effect, imbuing the watch with an indelibly retro vibe. The sunray-brushed metallic base of the dial further enlivens the watch, as it catches and reflects light at different angles. Although it lacks any form of skeletonisation that the company is known for, it more than makes up for it with intricate engraving, another house signature, in the form of an anthracite guilloché plate handcrafted by celebrated independent watchmaker and friend of the brand, Kari Voutilainen.
Another highlight of the Tribute 1 is its “motor barrel”, which is still prominently displayed on the dial of the Fumé editions. Held in place by an open finger-style bridge, another calling card of the brand, the barrel sets itself apart with an arbour that turns around the mainspring within the barrel itself, resulting in greater efficiency while taking up less space. Endowed with an impressive 100 hours of power reserve and beating at 3.5Hz, the in-house manual-winding Calibre AMW21 continues to be showcased by a sapphire crystal caseback, through which exquisite hand-finishing and decorations can be admired.
Also retained in the Tribute 1 Fumé is the discreet “lip” at 6 o’clock on the slim bezel that subtly calls back to historical Armin Strom watches, with the founder originally intending for it to be an additional surface for personalisation via engraved initials. The finishing touch for this timepiece that bridges classicism and modernity is an ultra-comfortable grey Alcantara calf leather strap with white stitching.
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