Over the past two decades, Nomos has taken a largely incremental approach to building out its various watch families. For a strong majority of that period, no timepiece that left the Glashütte manufactory measured over 40 mm or dared to betray the well-cultivated Bauhaus aesthetic that informed each and every design choice. That has changed in recent years and continued at Baselworld in 2019 as the German brand expanded two of its core collections – the Club and the Tangente – in unexpected ways, moving more toward the world of sporty than stylish. We were recently able to spend some time with the new Club Sport Neomatik Date to see how this latest deviation from the traditional Nomos aesthetic impacts the watch’s overall wearability, plus we take a look at how the watch is uniquely targeted to the American market.
Sports Watch Fever
If there is one constant in today’s watch industry, it’s the success of the luxury sports watch. From the icon status that watches like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut, and the Rolex Daytona and Submariner have achieved in the minds of consumers to the general ubiquity of dive watches as a whole, it’s a veritable fact that the luxury sports watch market is one of the strongest and most competitive.
The United States, in particular, has long been a market dominated by sports watch fever. One look at the watches highlighted by Hollywood – leading examples include Sylvester Stallone’s long-standing relationship with Panerai and James Bond’s Omega Seamaster 300 – and it’s clear how sporty timepieces in stainless steel have become a force to be reckoned with on the wrists of American consumers.
The choice to tie the Nomos Club Sport to the American watch market is clear with the brand’s decision to display the dial’s water-resistance rating in feet. The United States has emerged as the brand’s second most important market after its home country of Germany in recent years and is perhaps looking for a model that will catch the eye of the non-enthusiast as it expands its boutique presence even further. While, in general, we’re seeing the industry return to more conservative sizes, a size of 42 mm still lands in the sweet spot for many collectors and the prevailing opinion is that larger diameters are more prevalent on American wrists than in European or Asian markets.
The new Club Sport has many attractive features that should appeal to this targeted audience. The watch features 1,000 feet of water resistance compared to the original Club’s rating of approximately 330 feet (10 ATM), an impressive improvement. The lume application has been enhanced as well with an extra-thick layer of bright blue Super-LumiNova coated on the numerals, bar indexes and hands – ensuring legibility at all hours. A new screw-down crown that was developed specifically for the new Club and Tangente Sport models and features a bright red crown stem to alert neophytes, or forgetful enthusiasts, that their crown needs to be completely screwed in before taking a plunge is a great example of Nomos’ attention to detail.
Perhaps the most newsworthy of features is the presence of a bracelet option on the Club and Tangente Sport. Long requested, the first official Nomos bracelet actually made its quiet debut in January of this year in an update to the Club Campus line. The bracelet found on our review watch is the second bracelet to be released by the brand. The newly developed band, consisting of 145 individual parts screwed together by hand, comes with the custom Nomos deployant clasp. None of the screws to adjust the links are visible on the sides, lending a real sophistication to its appearance. The horizontally brushed bracelet has the ability to be micro-adjusted in three small increments through the clasp itself, or, if necessary, it doesn’t take long to remove links as long as you have the necessary size screwdriver. In addition, the bracelet features quick-release spring bars in case you find yourself wanting to change it up a bit with a leather or NATO option. While Nomos hasn’t confirmed whether or not the bracelet will be available à la carte in the future, as of right now it is limited to the Club Sport and the two Tangente Sport models released this year.
Released last year within the Update and Autobahn collections, the DUW 6101 was the first Neomatik (Nomos lingo for manufacture-made) movement featuring a date complication. Using the previous generation DUW 3001 as its base, the DUW 6101 was completely redesigned to integrate a large date ring on the outside of the movement and to adjust the seconds indicator from the central hands to a subdial at 6 o’clock. The winding system was reworked from start to finish as well. Despite the 6101’s substantial width of 35.2 mm with its date wheel (compared to the 3001’s 28.8-mm diameter), the movement is still quite thin at only 3.6 mm, thanks in part to the double-click gear, the duplex wheel and the rotor-immediate wheel taking over the function of the 3001’s “rotor brake.” Other necessary details include the usage of the proprietary Swing System escapement as well the movement’s overall 188-part, 27-jewel construction, and the 42-hour power reserve.
What’s especially unique about the 6101 for Nomos is that, for the first time, the movement features three different crown positions. At its home position, the watch can be wound by hand if so desired; placing the crown in its second position allows for the date to be set; finally, when the crown is fully pulled out, the time can be adjusted. The 6101’s most remarkable attribute, however, is a quick-change and bidirectional date mechanism that allows you to safely set the date both forward and backward. On the Nomos Club Sport, the date aperture is nicely integrated at 3 o’clock with an all-black background to seamlessly match the rest of the glossy dial.
While I’m sure there are some longtime Nomos supporters that will be disappointed in the decision to release the Club Sport in 42 mm, I can promise that the size fits the Club’s dimensions rather well. I might be alone in this choice as I know that that the Club has been one of the brand’s most popular lines for years (hence the choice to upsize it), but I never quite jived with its overtly round and polished nature. Personally, I always preferred the strong lines of the Tangente and Metro, or the classic proportions of the Orion – for me, the Club never felt right on the wrist until now. Although I’ve comfortably worn plenty of timepieces above the 40-mm mark, the watches in my personal collection rarely surpass it, yet I can totally picture myself wearing the Nomos Club Sport on a daily basis. Some may also find reason to complain about the lack of a unidirectional bezel ensuring true dive-watch status, however, I feel like that choice was a practical decision by Nomos, and introducing its first bezel in conjunction with a new bracelet may have been a bit too much, too soon.
By and large, I really appreciate what this new bracelet brings to the table for Nomos as it’s exceedingly comfortable and adds a new dimension to the brand’s offerings. I did have one concern after wearing the watch for a little over a week and it relates to its durability over time. While I didn’t have any issues during my brief period with the watch, I did find myself more cautious than usual about inflicting any potential scratches and dents on the clasp and bracelet. I’m always very careful with review watches anyway, but the damage potential felt slightly higher than usual due to the bracelet’s resolute thinness. One final note for those scarred by the Twist-O-Flex stretch bracelets that proliferated during the 1980s and ’90s and admittedly do bear a passing resemblance to today’s Nomos offering: I had no issues with the new bracelet pinching arm hair or skin.
Along with expanding its already impressive in-house manufacturing in recent years, Nomos has quietly increased its presence in many countries, including the United States. The brand produces more mechanical watches than any other current German company, so the incremental approach has obviously worked out extremely well so far. Offering new dimensions with enhanced specifications ensures that the favored mid-century design ideals are preserved while offering greater value for the end consumer. On that note, the price for the Nomos Club Sport does come at the high end for the brand at slightly over $4,000, but when compared to similar sporty watches from major Swiss brands, I believe what Nomos has produced is highly competitive.