If you imagine the archetypal cool Berlin-based designer chances are you’ll be thinking of someone wearing a black roll neck, sporting a pair of cool glasses and possibly beard. This person would also have a Nomos Glashütte on their wrist because Nomos is cool. Seriously, achingly cool.
It was set up in 1990 by Roland Schwertner, just two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Schwertner was a shrewd business man, but not a watchmaker. One of the things he did was buy up the names of once-great watch brands, one he particularly liked was Nomos – the Greek word for law – which was around at the beginning of the 20th century.
This Nomos was famous for sending free watches to famous writers and composers and asking for a letter in return describing what they liked about the watch. Little did these people know that these letters would be published as advertisements for the company.
The new Nomos was just as innovative. Its establishing pricing principle was “material plus labour and (almost) nothing else”, this meant that it could keep its prices competitive, something that it still does today.
Its very first designs were created by Susanne Günther who took, as her inspiration, the Bauhaus purist style that was made popular in Germany in the 1930s. The Tangente (above), which is still part of the collection, was a lesson in understated design.
With its clean lines and complete lack of frills, it really stood out and made a statement about the sort of brand Nomos is and its a style the brand hasn’t deviated from at all.
Its watches, for the most part, are genderless (though we’d like to see a man carry off the Tetra Kleene, pictured below…) and the attention to detail is like nothing you’ve ever seen. There are posters on the walls of its East Berlin design studio showing what, at first glance appears to be a whole load of identical numbers. Only on closer examination do you notice the tiny incremental adjustments.
However, don’t think Nomos is all poe-faced seriousness, it certainly knows how to have fun. Take for example its Ahoi watch (below), launched at Baselworld in 2013. It was unabashedly called a “swimming watch” the logic being that most people only use their diving watches for swimming anyway and its strap was made to resemble the old key wristbands from pool changing rooms.
It does take its watchmaking very seriously though, evidenced by the revelation of the Swing System this year. Nomos had spent the last seven years, in conjunction with the University of Dresden, working out how to make an escapement. From scratch.
We could go on forever about the fabulousness of Nomos, but we don’t do that here. If you want more specific information, then head over to its website. But be warned, its watches are so cool we’d be surprised if you manage to leave the site without making a purchase. Then again, we wouldn’t blame you in the slightest.
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