Independent, Contemporary, Bauhaus…Nomos Glashütte
The Glashütte valley, in Saxony, is the cradle of German Haute Horlogerie. Manufacturers with an ancient tradition, restarted in the early 90s after the fall of the Berlin Wall, churn out timepieces with classic lines, made with a mix of craftsmanship and modernity that makes them unique. Among these manufacturers, NOMOS Glashütte surprises for its original approach to the watch, in which form follows function, according to the philosophy of functionalism of the early 1900s and, above all, of the Bauhaus; an approach centered on the design of the timepiece, driving the whole production process.
NOMOS Glashütte is a polycentric manufacture, with the heart of the design in Berlin and the production and administration in Glashütte. Berlinerblau is the NOMOS Glashütte design studio in Berlin. It is housed in an austere DDR-style building and takes advantage of its spaces by exploiting their width and brightness. A large open space, a creative center in which designers discuss and share ideas and suggestions for sketching the lines of the collections. Pantones, mood boards, sketches and tests hanging on the walls, creativity on the go even just to change a font or the design of a hand.
You can find this philosophy just over two hours away by car, at the NOMOS headquarters in Glashütte: the second focal point of the manufacture, which since 2005 has been established in the premises of the old railway station of the town. A location from which the brand has embarked on the second phase of its history: it was in 2005 that it produced the first in-house caliber. Founded in 1990, NOMOS Glashütte is still a family business, managed by the owners. Founder Roland Schwertner runs it together with partners Uwe Ahrendt, CEO of the manufacture, and Judith Borowski, Creative Director. The company has applied its design idea to timepieces from the very first models, with a pure industrial approach to the product that aims at reinvesting profits to ensure a constant focus on the watch.
To develop its proprietary escapement, the Swing-System, NOMOS Glashütte invested money and time, seven years of research and development in collaboration with the University of Dresden. These are important figures for a company that has about 220 employees and which aims to craft its timepieces almost entirely in-house. Consider that the name Glashütte can only be used if at least 50% of the value of a caliber is generated on site; well, the productive autonomy in NOMOS Glashütte is around 95%. A product quality that has led the manufacture to develop many patents. We will see two of these later: that of the date display in the DUW 6101 caliber and that of the power reserve indicator in the Metro date power reserve watch. In addition to the NOMOS Swing-System, Glashütte produces eleven in-house calibers and all its watches are equipped with proprietary mechanical movements, both hand-wound and automatic.
The mechanical parts of the watches are crafted in the production site in Schlottwitz, a stone’s throw from Glashütte, the third focal point of the manufacture. A large mechanical workshop where the lathes, milling, CNC and finishing departments are located.
The parts produced in Schlottwitz then return to Glashütte, in the technical focal point of NOMOS, located in the ancient Chronometrie building, on the western side of the valley. This is where the pre-assembly process of the NOMOS Swing System, the assembly of the calibers and the watches take place.
The NOMOS Glashütte collection has eleven families of models with almost 80 references; there are mechanical watches with steel cases, which are positioned in the price range from 1000 to 4500 euros, along with some more refined and more expensive models in gold. Let’s take a closer look to some of them.
Let’s start with the hand-wound Tangente 38, the brand’s most iconic model. With a 37.5 mm diameter, the classic design from NOMOS Glashütte appears even thinner and more elegant with simply perfect proportions for more robust wrists. The reliable and entirely classic manually-wound NOMOS Alpha caliber ticks inside, visible through the sapphire crystal glass back. A larger timepiece, handcrafted for life.
The Tangente Neomatik 41 Update is one of the biggest successes of recent years. On the midnight blue dial the new date display stands out. The unique, patented NOMOS date ring is set far out on the edge of the dial. With Super-Luminova in green, it can be set quickly and easily in both directions. This is thanks to in-house caliber DUW 6101 with automatic winding and a date mechanism that is also patented.
The Metro date power reserve has been designed by the famous German designer Mark Braun and it is young and sophisticated. It is the model of the brand that has received the most design awards, from the Good Design, to Red Dot, to German Design Award. Its power reserve indicator doesn’t only remind wearers when to rewind, it is also one of the key design features. Others include hands as fine as quill tips and colorful hour indexes. And the hand-wound NOMOS caliber DUW 4401 is within the 37 mm steel case setting the pace, equipped with NOMOS Glashütte proprietary escapement.
The Orion 38 is the quintessence of clean lines and design. With a 38-millimeter diameter, this timepiece deserves its place among the larger models from NOMOS. Yet, with the curved dial and sapphire crystal glass, it still feels particularly slender and elegant. The tempered blue hands on the white silver-plated dial face complete its formal but yet sporty look. Inside the case, the hand-wound caliber Alpha is at work, reliably and with the highest precision.
The world-timer complication is one of the most fascinating in watchmaking and NOMOS Glashütte worked on it with a personal approach, which fully reflects the philosophy of the brand. With Zürich world time, you can travel the world by pushing a button and you automatically know the time in Sydney, Denver, Alaska, and New York. Highly complex, full of complications, but beautifully composed: that’s how the world time mechanism of this watch works. A complication that keeps things simple and that is housed in a case measuring 40 millimeters in diameter and just under eleven millimeters in height.
Finally, we come the most elegant watch – certainly the most precious – among the creations of NOMOS Glashütte. The Lambda 39 embodies the finest handcraft in a 39-millimeter diameter. This watch in 18 kt rose gold contains all the watchmaking talent of the NOMOS Atelier. In its gold case ticks the NOMOS caliber DUW 1001: its twin mainspring barrels double the power of the timepiece and ensure an impressively long power reserve of three-and-a-half days. The delicate interplay of the hands, filigree, and tempered blue according to the long-held watchmaking tradition, are reminiscent of a kinetic sculpture, and the finely drawn dial of an etching.
Finally, what to add to this quick overview of the history, vision and most significant models of NOMOS Glashütte? We can say that company’s approach to watchmaking puts the timepiece at its center, as the true value of the brand, much more than sponsorships – which NOMOS Glashütte does not pursue – or brand ambassadors – it does not have. Because a brand can sell an experience to the customer, but all in all what he wears is always simply a watch.