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press: How people tell the time – and how watches measure it

The caliber of a good mechanical watch is made up of many small and tiny parts. As the wearer moves their arm, the rotor swings back and forth, winding a spring, which stores the energy and releases it bit by bit. Pictured here: the proprietary DUW 3001 automatic caliber from NOMOS Glashütte.

How people tell the time—and how watches measure it

A recent study shows most people read the time in the traditional way, from a wristwatch. However, watches measure time in completely different ways.

GLASHÜTTE, JANUARY 2023. A population-representative survey* conducted on behalf of the comparison website Verivox shows that 38 percent of Germans look at the screen of their smartphones when they want to know the time. A further nine percent use nearby clocks, whether that’s at home, at the station, in the car or at work. However, no less than 52 percent look at the watch on their wrist.

This is where the biggest number of mechanical watches Made in Germany are produced: the NOMOS Glashütte workshop. The best watches have been manufactured in this small town in the Eastern Ore Mountains and sold all over the world since 1845.

How time is measured

How is time actually measured? How do seconds, minutes and hours get into a watch? How do they get into hand-wound or automatic watches, into quartz watches, smartwatches and smartphones?

Mechanical watches are the crème de la crème, representing watchmaking tradition and craftsmanship, culture and prestige. They are valuable and usually have a long life. Such watches have movements that are hand-wound or automatic. In both cases, their energy store is a mechanical one: a spring. Automatic watches are wound using a rotor. The movement of the wrist causes it to swing, winding the spring. Hand-wound watches, on the other hand, are wound by turning the crown. The spring is then able to release the stored energy for hours—or in the best case, days—and keep the movement ticking.

Swing-powering the watch: The NOMOS swing system is to the mechanical wristwatch what quartz is to a quartz watch. This assembly, manufactured in-house, is the pacesetter, ensuring that the watch divides time extremely precisely into hours, minutes and seconds.

Quartz watches have battery-powered quartz movements. And smartwatches are purely electronic devices that are usually connected to a smartphone and are often not primarily intended to display the time at all, but rather to monitor health data, for instance. These watches also have batteries where they store energy, and these generally need to be charged via an outlet.

How precision is achieved

That all seconds are always the same length, that watches run neither too fast nor too slowly, is thanks to a pacesetter that swings at regular intervals and is consequently responsible for the tick-tock. In a quartz movement, a crystal—quartz—sets the pace, oscillating under voltage at high frequency and very regularly, like a tuning fork, only smaller and very quietly. Most smartphones get the time automatically from servers on the Internet. If they are offline, the time simply continues to run in a local clock. But what about the energy? For these, smartwatches and quartz watches need rechargeable batteries.

No quartz watches or smartwatches: Around 200 people work at NOMOS Glashütte as engineers, designers, toolmakers and, of course, as watchmakers. They build mechanical watches—both hand-wound and those with automatic calibers—in the tradition of 175 years of watchmaking.

Neither quartz nor a battery can be found in mechanical movements. Instead, an escapement, consisting of a balance spring, pallet fork, pallet and crucially the balance cock, keeps the time; the latter is a fine wheel that swings back and forth regularly. Very few watchmakers worldwide produce these escapements themselves: at NOMOS Glashütte, for example—the manufacture that produces the highest number of mechanical watches in Germany—watchmakers install a special escapement called the NOMOS swing system, which is developed and manufactured in-house. The finest watchmaking expertise, which guarantees the exceptional precision of these mechanical watches.

What else wristwatches can do

Either way, although most people still consult a traditional watch to tell the time, there are more smartphones than watches around. After all, almost everyone owns at least one smartphone, even those who wear a wristwatch. And another finding of the study reveals that the likelihood of a person wearing a watch does not correlate with age, but increases with income and level of education. Jens-Uwe Theumer, Vice President at market analyst Verivox explains: “Wristwatches aren’t just timepieces; they’re also status symbols.”

*Online survey of 1,184 people in Germany in July 2022 conducted by Innofact on behalf of Verivox; population-representative in terms of age, gender and federal state.

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“Highest Quality” Seal Awarded to NOMOS Glashütte

Benchmark: NOMOS Glashütte prevails over more than 80 other watch manufacturers, receiving the “Highest Quality” seal from the Institute for Management and Economic Research (IMWF) and F.A.Z.-Institute. The NOMOS Tangente model—pictured here, the Tangente neomatik 39 version—has been one of the most well-known watches made in Germany for decades.

“Highest Quality” Seal Awarded to NOMOS Glashütte

Clearly Number One: NOMOS Glashütte prevails over more than 80 other watchmakers, becoming the best in the industry, ahead of Omega and Rolex. 

GLASHÜTTE, JANUARY 2022. NOMOS Glashütte was the clear winner in the competitive comparisons conducted by IMWF Institute for Management and Economic Research and F.A.Z.-Institute. Product and Service, Availability, Customer Satisfaction, Innovation and Quality: In nearly all categories of the “Highest Quality 2021” study, “NOMOS Glashütte emerges as the industry winner and clearly occupies 1st place,” according to the study.

NOMOS Glashütte received 100 points, Omega 77.6 points, and Rolex 74.6.  The researchers did not find any information concerning NOMOS Glashütte’s environmental sustainability efforts on the internet, which the manufacturer will have to communicate more effectively in the future. Handmade products which last a lifetime are produced onsite in Glashütte using fairly-sourced raw materials which are “already inherently very sustainable,” says Judith Borowski, the NOMOS manager responsible for sustainability. Judith is currently participating with the company in a comprehensive project with the Department of the Environment.

The “Highest Quality 2021” study, which analyzes every conceivable aspect of quality, is probably one of the largest and most extensive of its kind. Over the course of twelve months, 438 million online sources—including 154 million blogs, four million news sites, a million press releases, and several million social media posts—are collated and analyzed using artificial intelligence and social listening tools. After all, quality has long been one of the crucial factors when making a purchasing decision. Comprehensive quality assurance and quality certificates, along with more quality information, builds trust in products and brands. In addition to the online analysis on the work of over 22,000 companies, as described above, extensive questionnaires were also evaluated as part of the “Highest Quality 2021” study.

The IMWF Institute for Management and Economic Research, commissioned by the F.A.Z.-Institute to conduct the study, has the task of bridging the gap between science and business. In the wake of digitalization, the Hamburg-based institute has established itself as a laboratory for big data and artificial intelligence projects. The F.A.Z.-Institute has stood for relevant information and professional recognition for 30 years. Judith Borowski: “It’s also the distinction of these responsible organizations which makes this study so valuable to consumers. And for us, too.”

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press release: The NOMOS Advent Calendar is back for 2021!

Timepieces until Christmas Eve: This year, each open door reveals more valuable gifts than ever before. Five hand-made watches from NOMOS Glashütte are among them.

GLASHÜTTE DURING ADVENT 2021. Made for counting down the days, shortening the time until the celebrations begin and spreading festive cheer: The Advent calendar. Whereas early versions of this “clock” consisted of being allowed to place a single straw stalk in the manger each day or to wipe away one of 24 chalk lines, modern Advent calendars provide a true glimpse of celebrations to come: A little gift each day. 

This year, NOMOS Glashütte is particularly lavish. Behind the 24 doors even more watches and other valuable gifts bide their time. In addition to our own hand-made products, there are cases and bracelets, bags and other leather goods, writing utensils, and design classics. 

And everyone gets to open the NOMOS doors each day: From December 1, simply register, click, and win at the NOMOS website. Chances of winning the gift of the day have been exceptionally favorable in previous years—so it’s worth joining in this year as well. However, only heaven knows the winner, i.e. a Christmas angel at watchmaker NOMOS Glashütte—also a horologist by day—using a random generator. 

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NOMOS new friend of the brand is – Angie?

From time to time, NOMOS’ official Weibo channel hides some cool bits of information that don’t make it to English media – remember the Club Campus U? Well, today I’ve got another gem for you. Meet Angie – NOMOS latest friend of the brand!

Angie is a ‘Virtual Influencer’ with some 26.000 followers on the Weibo social media platform. NOMOS welcomed her as official friend of the brand just a few hours ago, with the words 你的·NO MOREs# Hi, 新朋友!The announcement was accompanied by a video posted by Ms. Angie – which you will find here. Angie’s watch of choice is the Tangente Duo.

The practice of using virtual influencers is certainly not new. Miquela Sousa for instance was once even named one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet by Time Magazine. I am currently not aware of other watch brands using virtual influencers, though I am sure they exist.