In ‘hands-on’ we go hands-on with NOMOS watches for either an extensive review or a quick first impression. These articles come with original high-res pictures show either on location or in our own photo studio.
NOMOS is known for their modern and playful mechanical watches at an accessible price point. What I love about Nomos, is that they’re not afraid to make daring design choices that are surprising, playful and fun. When I first saw the champagne collection from NOMOS, it was love at first sight. Having the opportunity to wear any watch from the champagne collection was an honor, but a tough decision. Admittedly, the Ludwig was probably the least likely choice for me, but it was the model I selected in the end. Here’s why…
What watch would you choose if NOMOS offered to lend you one, carte blanche?
My #1 choice was the Club Neomatik Signalrot, introduced at BaselWorld 2017, and one of the latest, greatest and most colorful Club models yet.
My favorite NOMOS is the Club. More specifically it’s the Club 701, which is one of their most affordable watches. I’ve worn mine almost non-stop ever since I acquired it, and I am not about to stop. In fact I love it so much that I would seriously entertain the idea of adding another Club to the stable. So, when NOMOS asked me which watch I’d like to wear for a Minimatikal review, I instantly knew the first one had to be the Club Neomatik Signalrot – a self-winding Club with a powerful red dial. How would this funky upper class Club compare to my simple 701, and would that funky red dial feel after a few days?
The Club Neomatik was introduced at BaselWorld 2017. It features a stainless steel case of 37mm excluding crown, which is rated water resistant up to 20 atmosphere of pressure. It is fitted with sapphire crystal glasses on both front and back, the latter allowing for a view of the in-house, self-winding caliber DUW 3001. I measured the lug to lug to be about 47.2mm, and it takes 18mm straps.
The Club Neomatik is not the most expensive Club model – that’d be the Automatic Date. However considering it is powered by NOMOS’ latest and thinnest self-winding movement, it is arguably the most high-end model of the range in terms of specifications. Finally, at the moment of writing it is available with a choice of four dials; silver, dark blue or ‘Atlantik’, light blue or ‘Signalblau’, and finally red or ‘Signalrot’.
Club Neomatik versus Club Alpha
When I first took the Club Signalrot out of its packaging and strapped it on, it instantly felt at home. Of course the dimensions are very similar to my Club 701; 37 versus 36 mm diameter, 48.4 versus 47.2 mm lug-to-lug, and finally 9.2mm versus 8.1 mm in height. They’re all rather modest increases. I found the difference in height to the most noticeable – which is probably partly caused by the different shape and feel of the sapphire crystal back compared to the stainless steel one found on my own.
The finish of the case seems to be one or two notches above the simpler Club – or is it just difference in price that’s playing tricks with my mind? The transition between the case body and the lugs seems more articulate on the Neomatik , with sharper separations between the two on both the side as well as on the top.
The difference in movements is mainly a matter of taste. I’m a fan of the simple Alpha movement and I enjoy the ritual of winding it. However, the DUW3001 ‘Neomatik’ is a beautiful movement and a perfect representation of the direction NOMOS’ is heading in. It does come at a price though; when both have a sapphire crystal back the difference is almost 100%, and it’s even greater when compared to my 701.
So, let’s talk about the dial. In German it’s called Signalrot, but surprisingly it isn’t quite the RAL color of the same name. Also, in real life it appears a bit lighter than it does on the NOMOS stock images, and the grain is not as obvious. It is a warm and vibrant red. According to NOMOS it should remind you of corals and rubber boats. I was mainly thinking summer and sunsets on the beach though – and longing for those every time I looked at it! The Club is a pretty playful watch to start with and this color really takes it to the next level. At the same time the subtle dimensions of the watch prevent it from being overly loud.
As this was a loaner I didn’t play around with straps but rather wore it on the grayish textile it was supplied with. It’s a good match that enhances the overall summer vibe. I imagine finding a better match would be quite a challenge, as of course the dial color does limited your options. It is a challenge I’d gladly take on though!
I love this watch. It’s cheerful yet packs a serious horological punch, and it stands out without being overpowering. It wears much more easily than I expected, and it was every bit as much fun once the novelty wore off. It’s not for everyone, and I wouldn’t recommend it as a first watch – but it makes for a fun addition if you already own a NOMOS (or other watch) in a more traditional color. I’d love to add it to my own little stable, though not without thoroughly inspecting the Signalblau, which I adore too. Last but not least, I think it’d make sense for NOMOS to also offer at least one of these vibrant colors in the more accessibly priced Alpha-powered Clubs.
When Nomos lent us several watches to wear, I wanted to go with the most unconventional model. That’s why I chose the Tetra Nachtijall, a small and mysterious watch that I couldn’t wait to discover.
THE TETRA COLLECTION
The Tetra collection is probably the edgiest collection from NOMOS thanks to its square case form. Sometimes square watches simply look and feel better on the wrist. According to Nomos “Tetra is a fine Glashütte timepiece: straightforward, clear, and perhaps rather independent-minded”. The collection is mostly known as the square version of Tangente, but its typography is not identical. The numerals on the Tetra are slightly elongated, and more narrow than on the Tangente.
Within the Tetra family, there are three variations:
– The Tetra Neomatik: extra large (33x33mm), extra thin, with the automatic caliber DUW 3001.
– The Tetra with manual winding: entirely classic available in 27.5×27.5mm or 29.5×29.5mm.
– The Tetra Berlin set: best-known their boldly colored dials.
THE TETRA BERLIN SET
The Tetra Berlin set was released in 2014. Every member of the Berlin set highlights a significant symbol of Berlin and has gold-plated hands. A nice tribute to the German capital, and home to Nomos’ in-house design studio, Berlinerblau.
Four different models are included in the Tetra Berlin Set:
The Tetra GOLDELSE, inspired by the golden statue crowning Berlin’s Victory Column.
The Tetra KLEENE, “little one” in Berliner dialect, with an eye-catching turquoise dial and the hand-wound caliber DUW 4301.
The Tetra CLÄRCHEN, a tribute to the renowned Clärchens Ballhaus (dancing hall) in central Berlin – featuring an audacious billiard green colored dial.
Last but not least, the intriguing Tetra NACHTIJALL.
In my opinion, the Tetra Nachtijall is the most poetic and mysterious watch of the Berlin set thanks to its deep midnight blue dial. The case size of the watch, a 29.5mm square, flatters small wrists.
However, I disagree with people saying that the watches in the Tetra Berlin set are the most feminine in the Nomos collection. I believe that a “small” square watch can also be a real statement piece for a man. Of course, the watch appears to be quite small comparing to the 40 to 44mm watches many men wear today, but the subtlety of this timepiece can be way more powerful than any other ostentatious, oversized watch. Sometimes, less is more.
It is true that wearing a square watch is quite unusual. The sharpness of the case can be confusing at first. But the Tetra is incredibly thin and lightweight which makes it easy and comfortable to wear. The hands on the watch still move around in a circle; the Tetra functions the same way as a round watch would.The strap is soft and flexible and its neutral color creates a nice contrast with the deep blue dial. The Tetra Nachtijall adds a touch of originality to any outfit with its bold color and interesting form. Moreover, the gold hands and numerals make it easier to mix and match the watch with gold jewelry and accessories.
The Tetra Nachitjall is powered by the hand-wound Alpha movement- Nomos’ oldest caliber and most popular one. A short summary of the technical data: diameter 10½ lines, power reserve circa 43 hours. With stop-seconds mechanism, Glashütte three-quarter plate, Glashütte stopwork, Triovis fine adjustment regulator, and 17 jewels.
One might wonder, where did the Tetra Nachtijall get its name? ‘Nachtijall’ translates to Nightingales in English. A Nightingale is a small passerine bird best known for its powerful and beautiful voice. The song of the nightingale has been described as one of the most beautiful sounds in nature, inspiring songs, fairy tales, opera, books, and a great deal of poetry. According to Nomos, there are more nightingales in Berlin than in any other city, as Berlin is on their migratory path.
Scientists from the Freie Universitat in Berlin discovered the mystery behind the nightingale’s beautiful song. Male birds sing complex notes to prove to females that they would be a good father to their children. Nomos has succeeded once again, in creating a seductive timepiece representing a perfect mix of traditional elements and modern design.
DETAILS OF THE WATCH:
CASE stainless steel – bipartite – sapphire crystal glass – sapphire crystal glass back – fixed with four screws
DIMENSIONS size 29.5 mm x 29.5 mm – height 6.5 mm – weight 36 g
WATER RESISTANCE 3 atm (splash-proof)
DIAL lacquered – blue
HANDS steel – gold-plated
STRAP Velour leather gray – lug width 18 mm
CALIBER Alpha – manual
MOVEMENT HEIGHT 2.6 mm
DIAMETER 10 ½ lines (23.3 mm)
POWER RESERVE up to 43 hours
Over the past couple of weeks I got to wear the Zürich Weltzeit 805, the most complicated NOMOS’ to date. How was it? Well, it was pretty awesome…
The NOMOS Zürich, either with or without date, was introduced in 2009. The Weltzeit was added to the collection two years later. It is the most complicated NOMOS to date, though it does not feature a Weltzeit (Worldtime) indication as suggested by its name; rather it allows two time zones to be shown simultaneously. First is your home time, which is indicated on a 24-hour disc at 3:00. Then there’s the time of the timezone in which you’re currently residing, which is indicated through the main hands in combination with the 24-city disc. Traveling to another time zone? A push of the button at 2:00 will have both the city disc and the hour hand jumping forward in 1-hour increments. This is all courtesy of an in-house, self-winding movement that started its life as caliber Xi, and became DUW 5201 with the addition of NOMOS proprietary ‘Swing System’ escapement around 2014.
The case of the Zürich Weltzeit measures just a tad under 40mm and consists of no less than ten parts – excluding the six screws that hold the see-through case back. It’s rated water resistant up to 30 meters and takes 20mm straps.
On the Wrist
Back when the Zürich was introduced NOMOS called it its first luxury watch. While they might be overstating things just a little bit, the Zürich does feel more deluxe than most of its siblings. It’s still 100% NOMOS, but it’s different – as if the brand managed to shed some of those Deutsche Werkbund ethics in favor of a slightly more Swiss approach. This shows first and foremost in the case, which is more elaborate than those of other models. As touched upon in the above it consists of no less than ten separate parts – easily double that of your average NOMOS. Four of these are the lugs, which are all separate parts, attached to the case through screws from the inside. Viewed from the side they feature an ever-so subtle inward curve, and they’re raised as to create a slot in which the bezel rests – pictured below on Zurich Date model.
The dial is another work of art. It consists of four distinct parts over three levels, adding a lot of visual depth and interested. Viewed from a slight angle it’s almost like a cityscape of a futuristic urban hub – which is very apt considering the traveling nature this watch. The frosty silvered finish is broken by the crisp black print, subtle dashes of blue and red on the hours, and the concentric circles of the small seconds scale. Center stage is reserved for the local time, which is indicated through a set of faceted hands of the perfect length.
On my wrist, the Zürich wears well. It’s larger than my Club in diameter, but lug-to-lug the difference is almost negligible. It furthermore looks good on a host of straps. Aside from the standard issue Shell Cordovan I tried it on a faux alligator strap and a rubber strap. The latter should’t work on a reasonably chic & dressy watch like this, but (to me) even this looked good. The clean & simple design of many NOMOS’ seems to work with just about anything and the Zürich is no exception. It’s save to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with it, especially since it’s so different from my simple Club.
A review of the Zurich Weltzeit is could never be complete without describing the utter joy of pressing the 2:00 button. The push action is perfect; requiring just the right amount of force. It results in a very reassuring clicking sound and the jump of the hour hand and city disc. It’s simply addictive, though I suppose one shouldn’t go about pressing it constantly throughout the day.
The Zürich distinctively NOMOS, yet at the same time it’s different enough to convince even the most Swiss-centric among collectors. It’s not as clean & minimalist as others in the collection, yet it is easily recognizable as a NOMOS. It has a beautiful case in a sensible size. The dial offers a lot of information but never feels overly cluttered. The movement is in-house and fitted with a great and handy complication. And it’s priced per NOMOS standards: very competitively.
Nomos launched two new mini collections in the Autumn of 2017: the ‘At Work’ series, and the 33 series- in champagne. The new models were a bit more subtle and dressy in contrast to the Baselworld novelties. While I have yet to get my hands on any of the ’33 series- in champagne’, my favorite from the ‘At Work’ series is undoubtedly the Metro Neomatik 39 At Work in rose gold, ref. 1180.