The Mega Minimalist Watch Splurge: NOMOS Tangente – $1900 – $2180
Editor’s Note: This falls firmly into the “Too Expensive” category for the vast majority of us. So much so that it’s an oddity to feature something this pricey on this website. So consider this the exception, and not a new sort of rule. $1900 gets you a stainless steel caseback, $2180 gets you a sapphire crystal exhibition back. For $2330 you can increase the size to 38mm (yep, the base model shown is just 35mm)
There’s nothing quite like reading articles about luxury watches to give you a bit of perspective. What is considered distastefully cheap and entry-level for some will be literally the most expensive thing owned by others. And by “others” I mean me.
Enter NOMOS, the luxury watch brand that is both “entry-level” and still expensive enough to dramatically affect my net worth. It’s the “cheap” watch that even watch snobs give grudging respect.
Design and Movement
NOMOS is based in Glashütte, Germany, the home of German watchmaking. Watches from there are afforded special protection to ensure quality; to be labeled a “Glashütte watch”, 50 percent of the watch’s movement must be created by the company. NOMOS build up to 95 percent of each movement in Glashütte.
NOMOS assembles all their movements in house. The Tangente features their Alpha caliber, a small, hand wound movement which has about 43 hours of energy. It’s not an automatic. So you do have to manually wind it (there’s no oscillating weight inside), but I’ve found I enjoy the ritual of winding it each morning.. The movement is impeccable. I wind it every morning and haven’t noticed any inaccuracy.
The making of a Nomos.
At 35mm the Tangente is small by current watch trends, but I generally prefer smaller, thinner watches. It’s a luxury watch that doesn’t scream luxury. Like many classic styles it will be overlooked by some as being too simple, even boring. However, after wearing it in a number of different circumstances, from jeans and sneakers to a suit and cufflinks, the beauty and versatility of this watch is clear.
The minimalist design is best described as Bauhaus (think Mies van der Rohe buildings). The Tangente is getting close to the Platonic ideal of ‘watch’ with its lack of ornamentation and excess. Because there is nothing overtly “luxurious” about the watch, they have to get all the details perfect – the materials, the proportions, the typeface. And they do.
The stitched shell cordovan strap is soft and flexible and compliments the stainless steel case. The blue hands and subtle texture of the subdial give just the right touch of visual interest to the light silver face.
With the sapphire crystal back option you can see the ruby bearings, blue screws, ribbing, and Glashütte sunburst pattern. For minimalist design purists, a stainless steel backing is available, but who wouldn’t want to see behind the curtain on this watch?
- Case: three part (“triparite”) stainless steel; 35 mm diameter ; 6.2 mm thick
- Sapphire crystal
- Dial: galvanized, white silver-plated
- Steel, tempered blue hands
- Shell cordovan strap
- Water resistance: to 30 m
- Lug width: 18 mm
Now, about that price…
When wearing it I am constantly aware of the cost of this watch and that I would be unable to replace it if something were to happen to it. I worry more about rain. I pay more attention to how I move my arm on the subway, watching out for errant bumps and knocks I previously never would have noticed. I expect that to fade with time. This is increasingly becoming my go-to, everyday watch.
This may be a polarizing watch. It’s either your style, or it’s not. But if it is, you will be hard pressed to find a finer expression of it.
About the Author: Ben Madeska is a Chicago based artist who often carries a Saddleback. Sometimes he carries it with the hand that’s attached to the wrist that sometimes sports this NOMOS Tangente. Sometimes he carries his Saddleback with the other hand. For a real perspective on art, wine, literature, and the news these things seem to make, you can follow Ben on Twitter.