Nomos: Behind the Brand
In a sea of ornate and elaborately designed watches, one brand sits quietly apart. NOMOS Glashütte add no diamonds to their watches, don’t supersize their pieces, keep their designs pared-back and unfussy. They aren’t a fast-fashion brand, jumping on the minimalist band-wagon, nor are they producing cheap and garish designs with style over substance.
Founded in January 1990, two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, by Roland Schwertner, NOMOS Glashütte has remained an independent company, owned and managed by five partners, still involved in the strategic running of the business. Not being a part of any corporate group makes the brand, in their own words, “more dynamic and better placed to react, adapt, and change”.
A cut apart from other watch brands, NOMOS offer a unique combination; fine mechanical watchmaking from Glashütte and award-winning design from Berlin. The brand can claim “a very high level of in-house production, our calibers are all designed and produced entirely in-house; and we offer remarkable value-for-money for a fine mechanical watch”. It goes almost without saying though, that what draws customers to NOMOS Glashütte is the clean and understated design of their watches. As NOMOS Glashütte say “we produce elegant timepieces suitable for work and everyday life; that go perfectly with a T-shirt, a suit, or even a tuxedo”. These are truly wear-anywhere pieces, simple and discreet.
The NOMOS Glashütte aesthetic is contemporary, yes, but still timeless. The company’s design philosophy draws on a number of sources- including the Deuscher Werkbund, a precursor to Bauhaus. In the words of the brand, “this is where the concept of form follows function comes from; but our designers do not feel the need to limit themselves to a particular style when creating a new model. Rather, they draw on the cultural influences prevalent in Germany and Northern Europe- such as German product design, the British Arts & Crafts movement, and Scandinavian minimalism. The designers look to areas such as furniture design and art; they are great sources of inspiration for our creative work. When it comes to the watches’ design, we also like to incorporate contemporary elements such as the dash of neon orange, cyan blue and green on the dials of our latest collection, the Neomatik series”.
And the attention to detail and design doesn’t stop at the outside of the case. NOMOS Glashütte design and manufacture everything in-house, and for more than a decade the manufacture has been developing their own calibers, currently producing up to 95 percent of their calibers’ value in-house. For such an accessible price point, it’s very unusual to find watches with such attention to detail and premium quality craftsmanship. Making as much as possible in-house ensures that NOMOS Glashütte can control the quality and quantity of the timepieces they make.
In 2015, NOMOS Glashütte presented their latest in-house developed and produced calibre, DUW 3001. At only 3.2 millimeters in height, in is an incredibly slender automatic caliber and features their proprietary escapement, the NOMOS swing system. As we’ve previously touched on, finding such a well-made automatic watch at such reasonable prices is unusual; finding a company that invests in innovation without charging the customer over the odds for the privilege makes it extremely so. At NOMOS “we are hard-working, modest, and do more or less everything ourselves”, say the brand. They can afford to keep their prices so reasonable due to their geographical location (manufacturing in Germany rather than the more expensive Switzerland), and their “customers do not pay extra for the brand name, the Glashütte designation of origin, or the design of the watch; and we do not spend huge sums on flashy marketing campaigns or celebrity endorsements. We prefer to let our watches and our many satisfied customers so the talking”.
At their essence, these are beautifully restrained watches, with a design ethos that speaks of simplicity and good taste. A NOMOS Glashütte watch- such as the classically rounded Tangente or Tangomat, the wider-lugged Zurich or Club, or the subtly unusual Ahoi– is a lifetime purchase, a watch that, due to it’s aesthetics and quality, can remain on the wrist for decades to come.
And it seems that the demand for such watches is growing. The company has more than doubled in size in the past three years, and in the three years before that also. But NOMOS Glashütte are not aiming for growth at any cost- “it has to be sustainable and last for the long term, just like our watches” say the brand; “There is plenty to look forward to”.