Today we have with us two unique watches from the German manufacturer NOMOS Glashütte (we’ll emit the umlaut from here on in for simplicity). The Tangente 38 and Ahoi Datum 40.3mm NOMOS have not been around for too long but despite this have left their mark already on the watchmaking industry with their minimalist design, entry-level luxury pricing, and most of all their supreme German quality and attention to detail!
NOMOS Glashutte as we said have not been around for all too long! The Nomos name was registered by Roland Schwertner (who still heads sales at NOMOS today) in January 1990, only two months after the fall of the Berlin wall. Nomos draw their influence from the traditional German ‘Bauhaus’ style of watch design. Often resulting in minimalist dial design, thin and sleek cases and minimal box and papers. With NOMOS initially using Swiss made ETA/Peseux 7001 manual wind movement. However, the company began to really stand out from the competing Swiss and German competition when in 2005 they began using exclusively in-house movements. Beginning with the α (Alpha) manual wind calibre but expanding to manual wind calibres with more complications over time. With the development of their own escapement in 2014 NOMOS was no longer at all reliant with Swiss manufacturers. Most recently, in 2015 NOMOS introduced their 10th in-house calibre the DUW (Deutsche Uhrenwerke) 3001. An extremely thin automatic calibre at only 3.1mm tall exclusive to the Neomatik series and in 2018 updating the Neomatik series with the Neomatik-date with the DUW 6101 calibre.
CASE & BEZEL:
We have us not one, but two brand new stunning NOMOS Glashutte watches with us today, so we’ll review them together, but one by one so you always know which watch we’re talking about!
Ahoi Datum: We’ll begin with the most expensive of our two pieces the Ahoi Datum 40.3mm. The Bauhaus design is clear to see in both these pieces. One key aspect of the Bauhaus design is minimalist casework, resulting in almost no bezel as the dial takes up almost the entirety of the face of the watch. The case is completely polished and very slab-sided and straight. With straight lugs that pivot out from the case at 90-degree angles, jolting down again to taper to the wrist. The lugs are drilled which is a very useful feature for changing straps and not damaging the polished metal of the lugs. The case sides are flat and only interrupted on the crown side by straight-edged crown guards protecting polished screw-down crown subtly branded with ‘NOMOS’ print.
Tangente 38: It is a similar story with the Tangente. a fully polished, slab-sided case with straight pivoting lugs, again drilled for ease of access to the spring pins for strap changing. Due to the manual wind movement in the Tangente, the case thickness is particularly thin, measuring up to only 6mm thick. The crown here is subtly marked with NOMOS text but omitting crown guards for the smaller sleeker Tangente case.
DIAL & HANDS:
Ahoi Datum: Both pieces feature fairly similar dials. As we mentioned earlier the Bauhaus styling of the case and the dial has necessitated minimal to no bezels at all. As a result, the Ahoi Datum dial takes up 38mm of the 40.3mm case size. The dial colour though listed as white is slightly off white with a slightly grainy finish, very subtle even in person so impossible to capture on camera! The recessed seconds sub-dial has deeply engraved radial grooves and contrasts the dial due to a moderately darker colouration and a slight sunburst effect. As well as housing a pop of colour with the bright orange sub-seconds hand. The main handset is in polished stainless steel with a polished hands cap which although is small adds so much to the formal presentation of the watch. with lume fill to keep track of the time in the dark. As well as a lume marker at each hour of the dial. As is in the name, the Ahoi Datum features a large date aperture at the 6 O’clock position printed with black text to match the rest of the dial print. The font used for the numerals is very recognisable as NOMOS as is used in several of their dial designs across various models! The final and perhaps most subtle aspect of the dial being the slender ‘Made In Germany’ text on the dial beneath the date window at 6 O’clock.
Tangente: As mentioned before, NOMOS use the same numerals font in a number of their collections, and we see it again in the Tangente 38! With a similar overall dial design to that of the Ahoi Datum, with the numerals separated by thin baton hour markers. Omitting the 6 O’clock marker due to being encroached by the sub-seconds dial. Again, the running seconds sub-dial has a turned finish which is slightly less noticeable on the Tangente due to the matte finish to the dial. The dial itself is stark white with thin, sleek contrasting black text as is traditional with the Bauhaus style design. The NOMOS text is vaguely bolder on the Tangente which is slightly unusual given its smaller size. The delicate hands are constructed of thermally blued steel with a polished normal steel hands cap, as we said is a really specialist feature for a watch in the price bracket of the NOMOS!
Ahoi Datum: The strap on the Ahoi Datum is pretty unique! with a black fabric strap but not like I have seen before. The strap is soft, smart and strong! One can tell with this strap in the hand from the weave of the fabric that it could withstand some real torture!
Tangente: The Tangente features a hand made black leather strap made of genuine Shell Cordovan leather. An extremely fine equine leather most commonly used in fine shoemaking but is also very popular in high-quality watch straps. The shell Cordovan official stamp can be found on the reverse of the strap.
Ahoi Datum: NOMOS as of 2005 have used exclusively in-house movements, the Ahoi Datum uses the NOMOS DUW 5101 automatic movement. One thing Nomos are well known for is their fantastically finished movements! with a Cotes de Geneve stripes on the rotor and bridges, blued screws bevelled edges to the bridges and a radial finish to the barrels. The DUW 5101 features NOMOS’ patented date mechanism. Even for an automatic mechanism the movement is exceptionally thin at only 4.3mm tall and 31mm across, yet housing 29 jewels and storing up to 42 hours of power reserve.
Tangente: The Tangente is allowed much more understated proportions by the NOMOS Alpha manual movement. When the automatic module is removed the thickness can be dropped significantly. And only 23mm across, yet maintaining a full power reserve of up to 43 hours. the winding experience is satisfying on a watch as thin as the Tangente! Sadly, the movement is not visible through the solid polished case back!
Ahoi Datum: Both the boxes these watches come in can be purchased independently from NOMOS and both are quite useful! The Ahoi Datum comes in NOMOS’s leather travel case. Made of soft, full-grain black and grey leather. With leather button secured straps to keep your watch secure!
Tangente: Contrastingly, the Tangente comes in a more display like watch box. Made of black Poplar wood with a soft inlay its the perfect place to both display and protect your watch!
For watches so intentionally simplistic and understated there is so much more than meets the eye. For the price, nobody would guess that NOMOS has been using exclusively in-house movements for over 10 years! Especially when the movement itself is so exceptionally finished and well presented. The Bauhaus design is almost claimed by NOMOS, as while competitors do it well, their reputation for quality and timeless design has lead to them being one of the top watch manufacturers in Germany and the most synonymous with Bauhaus styled watches. In my opinion of course.
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