The Armin Strom The Orbit is the high-end Swiss watch brand’s first serious entry into a “case with integrated bracelet” timepiece, as well as the first watch I know of with an “on-demand date” system. If you’re wondering what that means, it goes like this: In the default position, the pointer date hand doesn’t point to the current date, but instead shows the word “Date” at the 60-minute marker. on the bezel. When you press the pusher at the 10 o’clock position on the case, the date hand moves to the current date position (the date scale is also written on the black ceramic bezel insert) and stays there unless you press the pusher again. . Around 11 o’clock on the face, you can see the column-wheel transmission system for the on-demand pointer date complication. So, the concept of how a chronograph mechanism starts and stops is very similar.
Armin Strom came up with the idea out of a desire to do something different. The brand is not the only one. A relatively small manufacturer, such as Armin Strom, which can produce its own movements, is generally reluctant to release products unless it is possible to develop something original. The artistry inherent in watchmaking of this ilk lends itself poorly to emulation, so there is always a healthy search for novelty. Armin Strom isn’t trying to claim that he’s offering new functionality here, but Orbit offers a fresh perspective on a complexity that can be very boring most of the time. Brands are generally wise to stop trying to invent new ways to reach a more accessible feat by thinking of new ways to represent time and display classic secondary complications. So, in that regard, I’m all for what Armin Strom is trying to do with the Orbit Watch.
The movement inside the Orbit is the Armin Strom in-house caliber ASS20. It’s similar to the current aesthetic the brand is building into its movements, which is more classic and a little less futuristic than some of its (pretty cool, I might add) previous-generation products. What I’m most excited about is that the ASS20 is one of Armin Strom’s automatic movements, which uses a hard-to-see micro-rotor on the dial side at the 1 o’clock position on the case. The movement operates at an exceptional frequency of 3.5Hz (25,200 bph) and offers a power reserve of three days. The movement is 8.42mm-thick (on the thick side) but designed to look like a visual spectacle rather than being truly thin. The three parallel bridges on the dial side of the movement are now a common signature of many Armin Strom watches. The movement is also highly decorated with hand-polished and -beveling elements in a mix of luxurious yet industrial lines.
Armin Strom uses a system called an “equal force barrel”, which I believe is a form of constant force (for timing accuracy) mechanism, which is based on addressing the fact that the mainspring does not release a constant level of force during its winding. Chakra because it is tight when fully wound, weak when almost wound. How this works is not explained to me, but the idea is that the equal force barrel system adjusts for this change in force released by having some type of non-linear gearing associated with it. I’m very interested in how systems like this impact real-world performance. Most watch brands (including Armin Strom) don’t typically report on performance, so these systems are mostly about emotional impact and concept, or how impressive gains in performance can be. My suspicion is that most of these systems help performance quite a bit but not with impressive enough numbers to shout about. In any case, I really like stuff like this, and anyone who wears an Armin Strom Orbit is probably the type of timepiece enthusiast who loves nothing more than telling people they don’t know about the engineering of their mechanical wristwatch. For example, they may puzzle onlookers by mentioning that their Armin Strom mechanical watch movement also comes with a 10-year warranty.
The Armin Strom Orbit case is 43mm-wide and 12.6mm-thick with a lug-to-lug distance of 49mm. The case is in steel (water resistant to 50 meters) with an attractive polishing, and the lugs, which integrate into the bracelet, taper from 22mm wide to 20mm wide at the clasps. The bracelet is a classic H-link version with polished center links. It has a nice look, but doesn’t feel as original in design as the rest of the Orbit watches. The case and bracelet make good use of contrast polishing and the case is mostly clean, save for the inset pusher to adjust the date. I have to say that I prefer this movement to not need an inset pusher to adjust the date. It just feels off in a product that focuses so much on the date, which is why, in my opinion, such a complication should have integrated its adjuster into the crown.
Reading the time on the unusual subdial for the time on the dial isn’t too bad, actually. As this is a sportier watch, Armin Strom decided to put luminant in the hands and hour markers, a welcome departure from similar dials that the brand brands with hard-to-read skeletonized hands. The integrated subsidiary seconds dial at the 8 o’clock position on the case is also nice. Yes, reading this dial requires good eyesight if you want to see it in detail, but with a bright red “A” arrow hand and clear text in white ink on a contrasting black ceramic bezel insert, read the date (when the system is activated) is an easy read on the Orbit watch.
Armin Strom launched the Orbit collection with a 25-piece reference ST22-OR.75 “Orbit First Edition”, featuring a dark gray color (which I pictured for you in this article) for the subdial that indicates the time. The watch currently on sale is the reference ST22-OR.90 Orbit Manufacture Edition with a black (vs. gray) subdial, and it’s a non-limited-edition piece, although Armin Strom only makes them to order, I understand. Both First Edition and Manufacture Edition watches have the same price. I think Armin Strom did a good job with the Orbit, but this concept still has some improvements to make before we consider it a new classic. The whole concept is still very appropriate and, for now, the competent Armin Strom will appeal to the most serious enthusiasts who appreciate the brand’s novelty and vibrant aesthetic. Price of Armin Strom Orbit First Edition and Manufacture Edition watches 29,500 Swiss Francs. Learn more on Armin Strom’s website here.