Armin Strom Orbit Offers Novel Take On The Date Complication

There is nothing watch enthusiasts enjoy bickering over more than the execution of the date complication. On the one hand, it’s arguably the most practical compilation, on the other, they tend to be implemented in a fashion that breaks symmetry, adds holes to the dial, or just generally get in the way of visual harmony (don’t get me started on framed date windows). One solution that skirts this controversy is the pointer date, which sets the days of the month along the perimeter of the dial, and a centrally mounted hand serving as the indicator. But what if you want that pointer date read on-demand? Enter the new Armin Strom Orbiter. 

Armin Strom certainly have a knack for re-imagining classic designs and complications in thoroughly modern ways, and the Orbiter is no exception. Here we’re treated to a typically Armin Strom openworked dial, showcasing their signature bridge work and gear train symmetry, and most importantly, a column wheel mounted above the dial. This component is a part of the unique date system built for the Orbiter, which sends the pointer date hand back to a 12 o’clock position. See it in action below:

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If you’re wondering why you’d need to send the pointer date hand back to the 12 o’clock position, it’s because the Orbiter date complication is on-demand. With the press of a button, the date hand will be sent to the correct date, where it will remain until the changeover at midnight, or until the wearer presses the button again, sending the hand back to its rest position at 12 o’clock. The days of the month appear on the ceramic bezel insert, outside of the dial altogether. Given that the dial upon which the time is read is located offset, to the left of the hand stack, this allows for a clear view of the time, any day of the month. 

This retrograde on-demand date hand is among the most unusual executions of a date complication I’ve come across, and while it potentially adds a step along the way to get a reading of the date, it’s one I’d happily take to get the experience of the hand launching itself to the correct date at the push of a button. Given the unique layout of this particular watch, it make sense in this package, where it might feel a little more confusing on a more traditional dial. 

Just 25 examples of the Orbiter are planned for production, each at the price of CHF 29,500. This feels like a bit of a mechanical flex from the brand more than anything, but hopefully this isn’t the only watch that will end up featuring this impressive bit of engineering. Armin Strom

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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