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Wheels large and smallClaude Greisler meets Dave O‘ Neill

Claude Greisler, Director and Chief Designer at ARMIN STROM Manufacture and his counterpart, Dave O’Neill from the Marussia F1 Team, share their experiences of operating in highly technical and precise industries.  

From the start of the partnership between ARMIN STROM and the Marussia F1 Team, it was clear that lessons could be learnt by examining how the other half lives. And after ARMIN STROM’s brand ambassador, Timo Glock, had visited the watch manufactory of his F1 team sponsor, it was the turn of the two company figureheads: development process, prototype construction, raw materials and transmission technology. In short, an exchange of know-how was envisaged.

Naturally, Claude Greisler was fascinated, when he visited the Marussia F1 Team Technical Centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire, with its huge workshop; large enough for pit stops to be practised whilst the racing cars are prepared side by side for the next event. The workshop is beautifully white and sterile in its cleanliness, everything is sparkling bright. Here you could even set up watchmaking benches. The materials normally used by the team include carbon, graphite and titanium.

Titanium is used by ARMIN STROM as the material of its cases, but other materials used by the Marussia F1 Team also intrigued Claude Greisler, for whom the possibilities as far as watch design are concerned are far from exhausted. Also the team’s computer-simulation design process impressed him, the optimisation of components and the testing of the physical and technological characteristics of the materials.

And then the short design and production cycle of Formula 1 parts, which are adapted during the season. “Rapid prototyping” – this concept could not apply at all to the protracted, concentrated development of “his” timekeepers. The exclusive mechanical construction processes are based on the same highly manual demands of more than a hundred years ago. And they will go on for much longer yet.

All factory components that ARMIN STROM itself manufactures – bottom plates and bridges, wheels, springs and screws – must be produced with meticulous precision at the prototype stage, in order to meet the standard required for every future watch. Prototypes made of plastic like the Marussia F1 Team’s “rapid prototype” parts – out of the question.

ARMIN STROM does its own drilling, milling, turning and wire drawing, using the latest computerised machine tools.

What astonished Dave O’Neill the most during his visit to Biel was the dimensions involved in watch manufacturing. Although not mentioned much, measurements are exact to a hundredth of a millimetre, or even sometimes to a thousandth and, shaking his head incredulously, Dave O’Neill acknowledged that the interlocking machines could be milling up to 96 teeth in one tiny wheel.

However, in the end, both individuals shared the same interests: technology and perfection, and their fascination with each new product creation.