Strom Revs it Up

In 2006 Serge Michel and Claude Greisler took a big step to­ward cre­at­ing some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary out of some­thing that was al­ready very good, but not very well known beyond the scope of the in­sider col­lec­tor mi­lieu.

Plaza Watch International - - Strom Revs It Up - WO R D S EL­IZ­A­BETH DO­ERR

In 2006, Michel,

the young man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of his fam­ily’s newly ac­quired Ar­min Strom, and Claude Greisler, an ex­pe­ri­enced move­ment de­signer pre­vi­ously em­ployed by Christophe Claret and now prod­uct man­ager for the newly redi­rected young brand, had a big job ahead of them. But, as re­cent his­tory shows, it was one they at­tacked with verve, vigour and, ul­ti­mately, suc­cess.

In or­der to un­der­stand Ar­min Strom’s present, let’s back up a few years to when Swiss en­graver and skele­tonizer Ar­min Strom’s name was one that con­jured up vi­sions of lat­ticed gold and brass twin­kling with an in­ter­spersed shine of red bear­ing jew­els alive with the mo­tion of ro­tat­ing gear wheels and os­cil­lat­ing es­cape­ment parts in the heads of cen­tral Europe’s col­lec­tors.

Strom, with his heart­felt smile, burly mous­tache and thick Swis­sGer­man ac­cent, had been a fix­ture in watch­mak­ing for the pre­vi­ous quar­ter cen­tury. His claim to fame among col­lec­tors was his life’s work of 200 or so uniquely hand-skele­tonized, be­spoke time­pieces com­pleted for var­i­ous clients. His work was not nec­es­sar­ily com­pleted within the frame­work of a ‘brand’ as the term is un­der­stood to­day, but rather as an ar­ti­san prac­tic­ing his craft.

Now 77 years of age, Strom is of­ten viewed as a ‘skele­tonizer’, but in fact he is a watch­maker who had spent many of his first years in restora­tion, re­pair, and re­tail ser­vice be­fore pur­chas­ing a watch­maker’s work­shop in Burgdorf, near Bern, in 1967 and set­tling down.

Ini­tially, his own business was based on a pocket watch he had cre­ated. Spurred on by praise for this piece, but told that the move­ment needed to be more vis­i­ble, he came up with the idea of re­mov­ing all the un­nec­es­sary parts of it to make it more trans­par­ent and unique. Skele­toniz­ing was never part of a class at any watch­maker school, so he taught him­self how to do it. For his third pocket watch – he pre­ferred us­ing the larger sur­faces of the pocket watch move­ment at first –he added dec­o­ra­tive tech­niques such as en­grav­ing and plat­ing, which were per­formed by out­side spe­cial­ists. He thus cre­ated a style that was all his own upon pre­sent­ing it in 1983.

By 1985, Strom was in­clud­ing wrist­watches in his reper­toire as the mar­ket de­manded by this time, and promptly sold his first one to a Ger­man cus­tomer dur­ing the Basel fair of that year. “The small move­ments may have been harder to work on, but for this rea­son they pre­sented a greater chal­lenge for me,” Strom re­mem­bered in 2006 as he proudly par­took in the cel­e­bra­tions sur­round­ing the cre­ation of a brand around his work.

Each one of Strom’s cre­ations was unique, of­ten be­spoke or tai­lored to a cer­tain cus­tomer, and there­fore he per­son­ally de­liv­ered the

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