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Nomos Glashutte - Minimalism Redesigned

A relatively young brand that started out on its horological journey only in January of 1990, Nomos Glashutte is a German watchmaking company based out of Glashütte, Saxony, in the eastern Ore Mountains. It was founded by one Roland Schwertner, who was a fashion photographer and a computer scientist—not exactly your typical watchmaker’s origin story! However, today, Nomos Glashutte, with its 260 dedicated and passionate watchmakers, is the largest manufacturer of mechanical timepieces in Germany. Nomos’ designs are mostly handcrafted and are the epitome of precision, minimalism, and modern sophistication—fantastic and intricate odes to traditional watchmaking. And all in a price range that does not pinch the pocket. 

A fiercely independent brand, Nomos’ first collection—comprising the Orion, Ludwig, Tetra, and the Tangente timepieces—was launched in 1991, and featured the same minimalist aesthetic that Nomos watches have won accolades for. The design of the watches was heavily inspired by Bauhaus, a German art school that functioned from 1919 to 1933, well-known for its emphasis on creatively unconventional designs, where form followed function.  

The In-House Movements

Initially, Nomos used Swiss ETA or Peseux ebauche movements. In an effort to become completely self-sufficient and to break away from the Swiss monopoly of sourcing parts, by 2005, Nomos watches had introduced its own in-house movements, beginning with the self-winding Nomos Epsilon ticking away inside the Tangomat watch. It was at this time that Nomos joined the rank of legendary Glashütte watchmakers, with more than 50 percent of its watchmaking occurring in Glashütte. Next came the Nomos Alpha in the Tangente. And the rest, as they say, is history. Nomos watches grew from strength to strength, eventually culminating in an event that would transform the inner workings of Nomos watches forever. 

By 2014, Nomos had developed its own escapement, the part of the movement that controls the release of energy. They called it the Nomos Swing System, and with its release, Nomos’ movements became completely in-house. The brand launched this escapement within the Nomos Metro, which was crafted by Berlin-based industrial designer Mark Braun. The Metro, with its dash of colour, was a step away from Nomos’ usual design language and that really gave it an edge in the horological market. This particular watch received the German Design Award, the Good Design Award, and the iF Product Design Award. Besides these, Nomos has also been the recipient of several awards such as the Red Dot Award, the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), the Goldene Unruh, the Chrono Award, the Green Product Award, along with several others. Today, Nomos produces 13 in-house calibres, some of the most precise movements in the market available at a price that doesn’t break the bank. You’d be hard-pressed to find a reliable and ingenious timepiece with as clean a design language at such competitive prices. Nomos’ watches appeal to purists and budding enthusiasts alike, and that’s what makes them so special. 

Nomos’ most complicated design thus far has definitely been the Zürich Weltzeit Nachtblau, a watch that displays world time—absolutely perfect for the jet-setter on the go. Despite the amazing functionality of the watch, it’s still incredibly easy to read. It’s this minimalist and restrained aesthetic of Nomos, which does not impede the utilitarianism of its timepieces but only serves to enhance it, that first catches the eye and then the heart. Nomos stays away from luxury ‘fluff’ to the extent that they don’t make presentation boxes either. Instead, their watches come in leather carrying cases—simple, efficient and just as effective. 

The Legacy

With collections such as Autobahn, Lugwig, Lux and Minimatik under its belt, Nomos has clearly made a name for itself in the horological world and has several loyal patrons. The one thing common to all of Nomos’ collections is the restrained and simple aesthetic that ensures superlative readability and makes the timepieces exceptionally distinctive to the brand. From square cases to round ones, the brand caters to a variety of tastes and sensibilities.

Such has been the legacy of Nomos Glashutte that people have come to expect nothing short of the best from the brand, and that suits it just fine. As the CEO of Nomos, Uwe Ahrendt puts it, “It’s a huge compliment that people know so much about the brand, and for us to know that it’s exactly what they want it to be. Our loyal followers usually have quite an extensive knowledge about watchmaking, so they come in and they’re impressed by the quality we offer, and not just because some DJ or celebrity wears our watches.”

Nomos Glashutte’s exceptional timepieces are for those who are ardent fans of simple design and restrained character. This German watchmaker has broken through the humdrum of watchmaking to carve a niche for itself that is altogether unique, making it the true master of minimalism. 

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