No­mos Glashütte


Esquire (UK) - - Watches - Johnny Davis

Ger­man man­u­fac­ture grad­u­ates with hon­ours

“Cre­at­ing a watch re­quires a great deal of time and pa­tience,” says Ju­dith Borowski, cre­ative di­rec­tor and part­ner at Ger­man watch brand No­mos Glashütte. “There are many de­sign ele­ments that need to be just right. There has al­ways been a lot of po­ten­tial in Club — it is our ‘youth­ful’ model: ro­bust, sporty, dis­tinc­tive. With the new dial style we have given it a fresh, mod­ern look: a younger ap­pear­ance. The closer you look, the more you see. For ex­am­ple, the fine out­line around the ty­pog­ra­phy that gives the dial depth is a fea­ture that is only no­tice­able at se­cond glance.”

This year No­mos Glashütte launched a new col­lec­tion aimed at con­sumers look­ing to gift a watch to mark an im­por­tant oc­ca­sion, a univer­sity grad­u­a­tion for ex­am­ple: the Club Cam­pus. The col­lec­tion con­sists of two 38.5mm mod­els and one 36mm ver­sion. All three watches come in a ro­bust stain­less steel case with in­de­struc­tible sap­phire crys­tal glass and a solid screwed stain­less steel back, pow­ered by the in-house man­u­fac­tured, man­u­ally wound Al­pha move­ment. A small but quirky de­sign fea­ture is their “California dial”, a mix of Ara­bic nu­mer­als (in the top half of the dial) and Ro­man nu­mer­als (in the bot­tom half), a first for the brand. The num­bers are coated with the pow­er­fully phos­pho­res­cent pig­ment Su­per-Lu­miNova to be eas­ily read­able at night.

Part of the pack­age is a case-back en­grav­ing of your choice, of­fered free, with turn­around time of a cou­ple of weeks. No­mos is unashamedly try­ing to tar­get first-time watch own­ers here, peo­ple re­ceiv­ing a watch for a sig­nif­i­cant event or an­niver­sary. Part of the deal is that beau­ti­fully clas­sic No­mos de­sign at a more-than rea­son­able price. The brand has hinted the series is es­sen­tially be­ing sub­sidised: this is a line tar­get­ing its po­ten­tial fu­ture cus­tomer base.

The Club 38 Cam­pus fea­tures a white sil­ver-plated dial with blue rhodium-plated hour and minute hands with lu­mi­nes­cent in­lay, a neon-or­ange sec­onds hand and an an­thracite velour leather strap. The Club 38 Cam­pus Nacht fea­tures a ruthe­nium-plated dial with beige rhodium-plated hour and minute hands with lu­mi­nes­cent in­lay, a neon-or­ange se­cond hand and an an­thracite velour leather strap. The third in the series, the 36mm Club Cam­pus, fea­tures a white sil­ver-plated dial with grey rhodium-plated hour and minute hands with lu­mi­nes­cent in­lay, a neon-or­ange sec­onds hand and a grey velour leather strap.

Pro­duced in Glashütte, a tiny town in the Free State of Sax­ony, the birth­place of the Ger­man watch­mak­ing in­dus­try, No­mos Glashütte watches are dis­tinc­tive: no­tably un­clut­tered and min­i­mal­ist in de­sign, with an em­pha­sis on clean lines and sub­tle de­tail­ing. Still in­de­pen­dently owned, it is the coun­try’s largest me­chan­i­cal watch­maker, hav­ing dou­bled its sales in re­cent years, at a time when many brands are tight­en­ing their belts, re-re­leas­ing “clas­sic” mod­els and down­grad­ing to more ac­ces­si­ble (ie, cheaper) ma­te­ri­als to counter slow­ing sales in China. Its purist ap­proach has not only sin­gle-hand­edly led to a re­vival of watch­mak­ing in its home­town, it has of­fered a new aes­thetic to the in­dus­try, ev­ery watch be­ing a model of de­sign re­straint and un­fussy moder­nity.

It may not com­pletely sur­prise you that along with brands with a sim­i­larly re­duc­tive tem­plate (Uni­form Wares, Jung­hans), its watches have proved par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar with graphic de­sign­ers and the cre­ative in­dus­tries in gen­eral. As the fash­ion de­signer Jil San­der once ar­gued, “I am con­vinced that there can be lux­ury in sim­plic­ity”. By mak­ing its move­ments as fine as pos­si­ble, the watches of No­mos Glashütte be­come thin­ner and lighter on the wrist, and can also be as­sem­bled faster.

“We work ac­cord­ing to the prin­ci­ple that form fol­lows func­tion, in the tra­di­tions of the Deutscher Werk­bund and [the] Bauhaus move­ment,” Borowski says. “While a cer­tain min­i­mal­ist aes­thetic does char­ac­terise our time­pieces, our de­sign­ers do not feel the need to limit them­selves to a par­tic­u­lar style when cre­at­ing new mod­els. Rather, they draw on cul­tural in­flu­ences such as Ger­man prod­uct de­sign, the Bri­tish Arts and Crafts Move­ment, as well as Scan­di­na­vian min­i­mal­ism.”

“It’s true that we are strength­en­ing our po­si­tion in the mar­ket and en­joy­ing steady growth against the in­dus­try trend,” says com­pany CEO Uwe Ahrendt. “The fact that things are go­ing so well for us in times like these is some­thing to cel­e­brate. No­mos Glashütte is owner-man­aged and in­de­pen­dent. We have a very high level of in-house pro­duc­tion — all our cal­i­bres are de­signed and pro­duced entirely in-house — and we of­fer par­tic­u­larly good value for money for a fine me­chan­i­cal watch. Of course, we can­not pre­dict the fu­ture. But we are aim­ing for the same brand recog­ni­tion abroad that we en­joy in Ger­many. Af­ter all, our cus­tomers value what No­mos Glashütte stands for: high-tech pro­duc­tion and tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship, com­bined with prize-win­ning de­sign.”


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