Glashütte is an otherwise unremarkable town on the far eastern edge of Germany, but what sets it apart is its almost bizarre concentration of watchmaking companies. The tradition is so strong at Glashütte that they regard themselves, with some justification, as somewhat superior to the majority of Swiss competitors.
In the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall, NOMOS Glashütte was set up by entrepreneur Roland Schwertner and quickly became renowned for its stylish, yet affordable, timepieces. 1992 saw NOMOS Glashütte bring its first collection of four hand-wound watches onto the market; fast-forward to 2005, another landmark in the life of the company, and the brand became a manufactory, designing, engineering and building its own movements in-house.
Today, the brand employs more than 110 people at its premises in Glashütte. Its collection includes seven families of watches – Tangente, Tangomat, Orion, Ludwig, Tetra, Club and Zurich – spanning a diverse range of design, materials, colours and cases. NOMOS prides itself on its manufacturing prowess, making almost everything (apart from jewels and balance springs) itself – a NOMOS movement can be up to 95 per cent produced in-house, depending on the calibre.
The most recognisable trait of NOMOS Glashütte watches is the focus on clean and crisp design. Its best known model is the Tangente – an epitome of the “form follows function” design-inspiration behind the watches, with its classically elegant outline.
The watch with manual winding is all the more eye-catching for its sheer simplicity. In its most basic version, the dial bears just a small seconds counter in addition to the central minute and hour hands, with other models including delicately integrated features such as a power reserve indication or date function. The unornamented style of typography for the numerals gives the watch a 1930s-inspired feel, while the blued hands add just a touch of colour to the well-balanced dial.
Few brands would dare to release a watch with such little embellishment, yet the Tangente proves that less is most definitely more, and the award-winning watch has become a style icon in its own right.