Nomos and the Essence of Watchmaking

Glashütte, Germany; Home town of watchmaking heavy weights like Lange & Sohne, Glashütte Original and Wempe, who is actually making its watches in Glashütte old observatory. However, there is another brand that belongs amongst these names, a heavy weight in its own right; Nomos. Nomos Nomos was founded as recent as 1991 by Roland Schwertner. Responsible for the design of the watches was Susanne Günther. She created a line of watches, with strong links to the Bauhaus-movement, that differ from each other in very subtle way’s, yet enough to give each of them a very distinct character. Typical for a star up watch company in the early 1990’s was its choice of movement. Nomos started out with the ETA 7001 manual wind caliber. A solid and dependable choice that matched the pure design of the watch itself, and also helped keeping the price pleasantly low.

Nomos Caliber Alpha; Delicious indeed!
Nomos Caliber Alpha: Delicious indeed!

Nomos really appealed to the hearts of many watch enthusiasts when they were introduced, keeping both Schwertner and Günther busy expanding the Nomos-family with new members. Yet nobody could expect, that at the same time they were busy creating their own Manufacture caliber. It was introduced in 2005 and got the logical name “Alpha”. With this movement Nomos also beat its famous neighbors to the punch, and was awarded the very first Glashütte Seal of Origin. This seal ensures that at least 50% of the movement’s value, is created in Glashütte. A relatively easy task for Nomos, since the brand only purchases items as synthetic rubies and hairsprings and make the rest all in house. So it is also not surprising that Wempe develops part of its movements in close collaboration with Nomos.

Nomos Zurich; Strictly Bauhaus
Nomos Zurich; Strictly Bauhaus

The strap on this Nomos is made from shell cordovan. Most shoe aficionados will immediately think of Horween, the famous leather company from Chicago. This is indeed where Nomos also sources its shell cordovan from. Made from the back end of a horse, it takes about six months to prepare the leather until it can be used to craft the straps from. Shell cordovan is not only quite exclusive, it is also a very durable type of leather. Added appeal can of course be found in the fact that this strap will be a perfect match, for your shell cordovan Alden’s.

Tetra, the square Nomos
Tetra, the square Nomos

When expressing themselves, Nomos does not limit itself to strictly round watches. Square watches, under the name Tetra, have a prominent place in the collection. What is very interesting in this matter is that Nomos succeeded in giving this basic shape some more flair than one would expect from a Bauhaus design. This is accomplished by little, but so important, details. Like for example the slightly rounded bezel and the stepped lugs. Inside ticks Nomos caliber Alpha, a charming manual wind movement that is made in house and decorated with blued screws and Geneva stripping, a finish as one would expect from a watchmaker from Glashütte.

Nomos Club; the playful side of Bauhau
Nomos Club; the playful side of Bauhau

That Bauhaus is a movement, a way of thinking, and not simply a shape from which all individuality has been eliminated in order to get it as pure as possible, can be seen when we compare the Nomos Club with the Nomos Zurich. While both are elementary in design, the Club seems to be much more free spirited then the more formal looking Zurich. It is almost as if when the Club grows up, it will become a Zurich. This also shows the true power of Nomos, two completely different watches, created from the same train of thought that will most likely appeal to two completely different client groups.

When the glove fits...
When the glove fits…

Like most watch manufacturers Nomos also does limited editions. However, they give it a different spin then we usually see. They introduced four different colored dials for the Nomos Tetra. So far not that exciting, but they teamed up with the high-end glove manufacture Roeckl to include a pair of handmade, Cashmir and lambs wool lined nappa-leather gloves that match the color of the dial! Originality is genetic with Nomos.

Nomos gives a lesson in creating depth in a dial
Nomos gives a lesson in creating depth in a dial

The same can be said of their world time watch. Based on the Zurich, it offers a smart package of complications for people who like to travel the globe. The ring surrounding the dial tells the time in all 24 time zones, while a separate disk at 3 o’clock tells the difference between your home time and the time zone you are currently in. Although this extra disk is, compared to the rest of the dial, relatively small, it does add a layer of depth to the watch. Also because it pushes the city-ring of the time zone function deeper into the watch.

Nomos proofs to be more then just a pretty face
Nomos proofs to be more then just a pretty face

But the most unique feature of this watch? The large, sub-seconds display at 6 o’clock! This is a rare and unique feature amongst world time watches, since most of them don’t show the seconds or feature a centrally mounted seconds hand. In case of this Nomos it really adds a lot of character, but it also emphasizes what the brand is all about; straightforward yet with their own unique approach.

Special thanks to Peter van Bruggen from Goudsmederij Van Bruggen for providing the watches and the location for the photo shoot.


  1. Paul says:

    Great article Martin! Which model is your favorite?
    Greetings Paul

    1. Martin Green says:

      Thanks for your compliment Paul! As a dress watch kind of guy a lot of Nomos collection appeals to me, yet…..despite this I’ll have to say that the Nomos Weltzeit my personal favorite is, simply because they integrated this complication in such a magnificent way!

  2. Paolo says:

    Hi Martin,
    I can understand your choise.
    I also like the long hands from the Weltzeit.
    Very nice !

  3. Martin we enjoyed your stay in our humble shop and are looking forward to meeting you again.

    1. Martin Green says:

      Thanks for having me Peter! It was a pleasure to see all these amazing Nomos watches.

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