Five Things You Might Not Know About Nomos Glashütte

It seems like every year I receive more and more questions from my non-horologically-inclined friends about Nomos Glashütte. It’s understandable. Over the past decade-plus, the German brand has made massive inroads in building a following in the United States. This is largely thanks to a highly-praised minimalist design palate, excellent marketing, accessible prices, and true in-house mechanical movements. Altogether, Nomos has found massive success in an arena that so many other brands are struggling with: How to appeal to a millennial and Gen Z audience without sacrificing horological prestige among longtime watch purists?

Today, Nomos is the largest producer of mechanical watches by volume in all of Germany and introduced at Baselworld 2018  a new collection that continues with the same design panache we’ve come to expect. While there are many widely known facts about the brand out there, such as it was founded two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there are still quite a few interesting details that not every watch enthusiast may know.

Only Horology’s Finest

The Nomos R&D team is led by Mirko Heyne, co-founder of the German independent darling Lang & Heyne. All the way back in 2001, watchmaking apprentices Marco Lang and Mirko Heyne teamed up to start their own manufactory in Dresden. One year later, they introduced their first watch at Baselworld to critical acclaim. However, in the summer of 2002, Heyne left the young brand to head the Nomos research and development team, which has since lead to the introduction of many proprietary innovations such as the Swing System and the DUW 3001 movement (detailed below). Marco Lang kept the name of the brand and continues to produce around 50 watches a year.

Nomos Club Campus - wrist
The Nomos Club Campus from 2017.

For a Limited Time Only

Like many global brands, Nomos has a long history of producing limited edition timepieces that are only for sale from specific boutiques or distributed to certain countries. Often, this will consist of a certain colorway or a small dial detail commemorating the jeweler or the occasion. Nomos leans the other way and, more often than not, has produced totally unique watches that reflect the brand’s design ethos in often-unexpected ways. If you don’t believe me, check out some of the more memorable ones below. A few standouts include the Nomos Tangente Barneys New York (Japan-only), the Nomos Tangente Millenium 2000 (Austria only), and the Nomos Tangente Urushi (Japan only).

Doctors Without Borders

Since 2012, Nomos has collaborated with Ärzte ohne Grenzen, the Doctors Without Borders affiliate in Germany, to create limited-edition watches that raise funds for global aid. Before Nomos could officially partner with the worldwide humanitarian organization, it was subject to a series of inspections to confirm that its production methods and sourcing of materials met the strict ethical guidelines required by Doctors Without Borders. The watches are recognizable by small design changes, such as a Doctors Without Borders signature underneath six o’clock and a red 12 o’clock numeral at the top of the dial. There is also a caseback engraving to signify the watch’s merit.

Next Stop: Glashütte

While all the brand’s design work takes place in Berlin, the actual main office for Nomos is three separate buildings within the horologically-focused rural town of Glashütte. The small city is located about a two-and-a-half hour drive away from Berlin and about 45 minutes away from Dresden. Inside Glashütte, Nomos takes up three separate buildings where the watches and movements are built. The main office, where all the administrative work happens, is inside a former Glashütte train station. Speaking of train stations, Nomos also hosts its annual Baselworld party at the German one in Basel every year.


Taking it In-House

While Nomos has been celebrated for producing in-house movements since 2005, there are two recent proprietary innovations that stand out above the rest. Both the Swing System, introduced in 2014, and the DUW 3001 caliber, introduced the following year, have allowed the brand to completely change how it approaches production. The Swing System, which is the escapement used in all the most recent Nomos models, enables the brand to no longer be reliant on third-party suppliers and was a major step forward for its production capabilities. The DUW 3001, on the other hand, is a nearly completely in-house produced caliber that utilizes the Swing System, among other Nomos inventions, and powers the Tangente, Orion, Ludwig, Metro, Minimatik, and Club models. (The recently unveiled Autobahn and Update lines use the brand new DUW 6101 caliber, a spinoff of the 3001 movement.) The DUW 3001 is only 3.2 mm in height and features all the classic attributes of German watchmaking, such as tempered blue screws, a three-quarter plate, and ribbed polishing.

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  1. Gene Bricker

    I love the dials that Nomos produces. I have the classic Tangente, But I wish Nomos would use harder stainless for their cases. My besel showed lots of little marks after a short time which I see every time I wear it.

  2. Boring is an interesting description for a watch, perhaps you were looking for a broadway show or a television set. If you are looking for craftsmanship and build quality, you know things you might find in a watch…then Nomos or similar firm my warrant your attention.

  3. Am I the only person who thinks they are just not worth the money? I know they are well made but they are do damn boring and You can get far better watches for the same if not cheaper. The only one I like is the square one but still overpriced

  4. LEE Rappeport

    Their watches are still too small. Need a 42mm selection….

    • Big watches have proven to be increasingly unpopular in a number of markets, no reason to go in for short term fads

      • 42mm is not large by any stretch. I’d say 41/42mm is a fairly average size. 47mm etc. is large.

  5. Nicholas Sokach

    Impressive watches. Unfortunately the model I looked at did not have a screwed down crow..

        • Skip cuevas

          Have you ever tried to manually wind a watch with crown screwed down? If uncsrewed, will move hands.

          • That’s not really accurate, while a manual movement would not be able to be wound with the crown screwed in, one could be wound with the crown unscrewed but not pulled out into the second position. Many automatic movements, in watches with screw down crowns, can be manually wound in this way. The reason that screw down crowns are not ideal for manually wound movements is twofold: first, it is simply inconvenient to have to unscrew the crown to wind the watch, which obviously needs to happen mich more often than in automatics, and second, the wear on the crown tube are generally quite fine and susceptible to being stripped or otherwise damaged due to the constant unscrewing and screwing in of the crown to wind the watch. Given that a watch with a non-screwdown crown can have more than ample water resistance for most every activity (for example the nomos club, with 100m water resistance) a screw down crown doesn’t really make much sense for a watch with a manually wound movement.

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