The little town of Glashütte has provided the watchmaking world with plenty of stories to last a lifetime. We covered its history here and a little of its present but the real beauty of Glashütte lies in its future. For a tiny town that has birthed the likes of A. Lange & Söhne, Moritz Grossmann, Glashütte Original and Mühle Glashütte, the DNA of Saxon watchmaking is relatively clear.
The pattern lies in a classic German aesthetic such as Bauhaus design, backed by a high-level of movement design and manufacture. It’s a look that we’ve come to love and appreciate out of Glashütte. But what then happens when every watchmaker from the town looks similar?
That’s precisely where NOMOS Glashütte comes in.
While the brand is still young, having been founded in 1990 two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has already amassed a cult following across the world. The brand’s popular following can be attributed to two major factors – first, its value proposition and affordability (majority, if not all of its collections fall under the S$10,000 mark) and secondly, the fact that NOMOS hasn’t been afraid to think outside the box.
Take its Ludwig collection for example. As a product of decidedly Saxon aesthetic, the range presents NOMOS at its most austere and formal (it’s in fact the first NOMOS that the writer bought). The blued steel hands against a monochromatic dial with Roman numerals and a track make for a compelling dress watch and one that’s an easy substitute for many a dress watch at this range.
Inside, however is what makes the difference. NOMOS’ calibres have been produced in-house for the past 12 years. While the requirement for the “Made in Germany” label is at 50 per cent of the watch’s entire make-up, NOMOS prides itself on a 65 to per cent total. The value proposition it then affords a newcomer to the watch world, and one that’s interested in German watchmaking, is undeniable.
At this price range however and competing against the more well-known Glashüttian brands like A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original, NOMOS’ ability to think outside the box is what truly sets it apart.
And when we say think about the box, we mean outside of Glashütte. Unlike most watch manufactures, who keep its entire staff in the same vicinity, NOMOS’ entire design department resides in Berlin. Labeled as its own in-house creative design agency, the folk at Berlinerblau work with external designers on everything from watch design to websites for the brand.
In a sense, this has allowed NOMOS to get an oft-needed input from the outside world. If anything, it’s not quite unlike the heyday of watchmaking in the ’70s and ’80s where brands looked for external watch designers to create timepieces.
Its collections such as the Club (as shown above) are examples of this slightly more quirky form of design that comes from Berlin. We recently sat down with the head of product design, Thomas Höhnel who shared that having the creative team in Berlin was necessary. “A town like Glashütte is great for watchmaking but a bit small and can stifle creativity a little,” he jokes. We understand what he means, of course, having visited the town before.
But a balance needs to be struck of course. Höhnel explained that it was required for every designer to visit the manufacture itself in Glashütte to understand the intricacies of watchmaking. “A lot of external designers come in and they have extravagant ideas so we bring them to show exactly how important the relationship of the movements to the watch is.”
This 50-50 between form and function is where NOMOS has excelled at over the past years.
Collections such as the Zürich see the brand’s worldtimer complication, another great value proposition at less than S$8,000. Other complications featured in various collections include power reserve indicators as well as GMT functions. We’re certain that NOMOS will introduce more complications over the next few years at attractive price points. When we asked the brand in regards to its Lambda and Lux ranges, the only two collections that feature 18k gold (red and white), the brand was happy to admit that these timepieces weren’t their bread and butter.
“For us, these collections were to show that NOMOS can easily do gold should we want to but that would drive up costs ridiculously. It’s not our main focus,” shared Uwe Ahrendt when we met him last year. It’s a nice sentiment, especially for younger audiences looking to buy into their first timepieces. That market as it seems is NOMOS’ next target. This year’s Club Campus was designed specifically as graduation gifts with the option of engraving available.
The myriad colours of the collection of course, and its distinctive “anti-California” dial design make it the perfect first watch for those not looking for the traditional “stuffy” dress watch.
And that is where NOMOS Glashütte lies as a brand – ready to receive newcomers and quite easily attract them, but at the same time backed with true manufacture status that any watch connoisseur can appreciate.
Stay tuned next week for AUGUSTMAN’s Tried & Tested review of the NOMOS Glashütte Zürich Worldtimer Nachtblau