Over the last two months I’ve had my hands on the Ace x Nomos Limited Edition ‘100 Years De Stijl’ on a lot of different occasions. I connect with this watch in a different way than I do to other Nomos watches, mainly because of my relationship with the conceptual story behind the design.
The Ace x Nomos Limited Edition Orion celebrates the 100th anniversary of De Stijl. The De Stijl art movement was founded in 1917, and made famous by noteworthy artists such as Rietveld, Piet Mondriaan and Theo van Doesburg, to name a few. De Stijl was a body of work using mainly primary colors, squares and rectangles to create an interesting composition by juxtaposing these shapes and colors.
I have always been an art lover, creative and hands-on. I went to an art and design university in New York City. My lectures were made up of studying art history, metalsmithing, painting and drawing lessons. We often had lectures at the Museum of Modern Art where we could see Mondrian’s Composition with Red and Blue in the flesh, along with many other famous works. While my painting skills never amounted to much, it made me respect the talent these artists have more than ever. Mondrian actually began painting realistic landscapes and his work eventually evolved into painting squares. In 1917, the concept behind painting just a red square was so new and never done before, that it was actually brilliant.
That is something that Ace accomplished when they teamed up with the design team at Nomos- create a timepiece with a design that has never been done before. Ace being a Dutch retailer, they used inspiration that was close to home, literally and figuratively speaking. The 100th anniversary of De Stijl is being celebrated all through out the Netherlands. Nomos is a brand that built their brand off of designers whose ethos was the form must follow function such as Louis Sullivan and Adolf Loos, so it is no surprise that the design team was inspired by the minimalist works from the De Stijl movement, from Reitveld and Mondriaan in particular.
The dial of the limited edition watch is bright white with almost a silvery sheen. The index of the watch is what sets the watch apart from any other watch I had ever seen. Every single hour marker is a different in size and shape. Some are square, some are rectangle. Some are short, some are long. The variety actually reminds me of the variety of buildings in New York City. Some are a pre-war five story building, some are modern and tall skyscrapers. Mondriaan actually moved from Amsterdam to New York. It was in New York where he created some of his most famous works such as the Broadway Boogie Woogie. After being hands on with this watch enough, it not only resembles what De Stijl was all about, but it takes me back to my time in New York as well.
New York, or shall we call it New Amsterdam, is the city that never sleeps. Take a walk from the Lower East Side up to Union Square, your eyes will wander all over the place with amazement. The juxtaposition of the hour markers on the dial does that as well, my eye keeps moving clockwise around the watch at all the different shapes. Although it is asymmetric, it is not chaotic. There is almost a pattern of the line weight of all the hour markers, which makes the design balanced despite the different lengths of the markers.
What one may say is missing from the watch, are the primary colors painted on that plain white dial. The dial is set within a 38mm Orion case in stainless steel. The design team could have just as easily decided just to change the hands to red, blue and yellow, or made one single index another color. The possibilities are endless, but predictable. One of the reasons why De Stijl has become such a legendary art movement is that the artists went out of their comfort zone. Nomos pushed the boundaries, and created a stunning and exclusive watch on the outside, with the primary colors tucked away on the inside. Ticking away at the heart of the watch is the hand-wound Alpha movement, which features blue steel screws, red synthetic rubies, and a yellow balance wheel. I guess we can say that the color palette also follows function with the Ace x Nomos Limited. The dial and movement are protected by a scratch resistant sapphire crystal on both the case front and back.
On the wrist the watch is easily legible with the stark contrast of the plain black and white color palette. Admittedly, the 38mm size takes me a little bit out of my own comfort zone. I have a delicate wrist and normally wear a 33mm Orion (photographed above), so the size is a pretty big jump for me. Lets be honest though, I’m not the only one pushing boundaries for the sake of celebrating De Stijl. The longer I had the pleasure of the Ace x Nomos Limited on my wrist, the more and more I wanted it to be mine.