Outside of the traditional heartland in Switzerland, one of the greatest watchmaking centers in Europe is nestled in the small German town of Glashütte in eastern Saxony. 2020 marks the 175th anniversary of Glashütte’s own distinct brand of German horology and, as part of its ongoing celebrations, Glashütte-based NOMOS has commissioned not one, but three limited versions of its minimalist Ludwig series in honor of the town. All three feature unique white enamel dials and blued leaf hands as a visual tribute to the dawn of German watchmaking, but interpret this unique blend of classical and minimalist elements in three different sizes with three different chronometer-rated manufacture movements. The limited-edition NOMOS Ludwig – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte, NOMOS Ludwig neomatik 39 – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte, and NOMOS Ludwig neomatik 41 date – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte form a cleanly handsome tribute to this historic anniversary, showcasing some of the brand’s signature touches.
All three models begin with the basic stainless steel case architecture of the production NOMOS Ludwig series, featuring an elementally minimal shape with a rounded central case and long, narrow straight lugs. The all-dial effect of the narrow bezels and thin lines helps give these more presence on the wrist than one might expect, but overall proportions for each version remain on the compact side. The NOMOS Ludwig – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte is the most conservatively sized at 35mm-wide and an elegant 6.8mm-thick, while the Ludwig neomatik 39 – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte and Ludwig neomatik 41 date – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte clock in at 38.5mm and 40.5mm in diameter, respectively. Impressively, though, the automatic movements in these latter two models barely increase the overall case thickness over the hand-wound version, with the neomatik 39 measuring only 7mm from top to bottom, and the neomatik 41 date sized at 7.7mm-thick. All three variants also feature an engraved sapphire display back showcasing the decorated in-house movement work.
NOMOS is famed for its minimalist, Bauhaus-inspired take on dial design, and this trio of special editions bends this core design philosophy toward an older aesthetic while losing little of the line’s signature personality. All three dials use a classic white enamel treatment for a delicate, milky effect that gives a surprising amount of depth. This is then accented with classically styled blued leaf hands for both the main dial and small seconds subdial, a flourish that sets these apart from more standard NOMOS stick hand designs. This push toward a more antique, pocket watch-influenced aesthetic is completed with an airy, widely spaced outer railroad minutes track.
The rest of the design keeps the spirit of the mainline Ludwig intact, with its mix of slim Bauhaus Roman numerals and printed line indices and a cleanly executed small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. It’s a testament to NOMOS’ attention to detail that this design works as well as it does in all three sizes, with none of the three models feeling either too empty or too cramped. There is some truly expert design work that goes nearly unnoticed to accomplish this, finely massaging the proportions of hands, indices, and subdials to maintain visual balance in each iteration. There is an argument to be made, however, about the integration of the leaf hands and railroad minutes tracks on these models. NOMOS design is almost ruthlessly minimal to its core, and even these small added details may be enough to dissuade purists.
Each of these three new limited edition Ludwig models uses an in-house movement. For the NOMOS Ludwig – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte, the brand opts for the hand-wound NOMOS Alpha movement. The Alpha is a handsomely decorated piece with wide Germanic-style movement plates accented with stripes, perlage, and sunburst finishing. The movement is factory-adjusted to chronometer standards and offers a 43-hour power reserve.
The NOMOS Ludwig neomatik 39 – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte employs the automatic NOMOS DUW 3001 movement. This powerplant also features much the same style of decoration, topping things off with a striped signed skeleton rotor. Like its hand-wound counterpart, the DUW 3001 provides 43 hours of power reserve and is adjusted to chronometer accuracy from the factory.
The automatic NOMOS DUW 6101 movement inside the NOMOS Ludwig neomatik 41 date – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte is the most technically complex of the three, featuring a bidirectional quickset date complication along with the brand’s “swing system” balance spring. The Teutonic decoration style is kept intact here, and performance is near identical with a 42-hour power reserve and chronometer-grade accuracy adjustment.
All three limited-edition versions of the Ludwig are capped off with a simple black leather strap. Like so much with NOMOS, however, the simplicity of the design can belie impressive material quality. In this case, the leather is supple, dynamic Shell Cordovan from the world-famous Horween tannery in Chicago. The resulting clean, rich black material is an excellent match for the watches themselves, with a timelessly simple quality that dresses up or down with equal aplomb.
While the classically inspired touches may upset purist fans of NOMOS’ modern take on Bauhaus design, this new trilogy of limited-edition Ludwig models is a high-quality tribute to the heartland of German watchmaking. All three models will be limited to 175 examples each. The NOMOS Ludwig – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte, NOMOS Ludwig neomatik 39 – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte, and NOMOS Ludwig neomatik 41 date – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte are all available now through authorized dealers, with MSRPs of $2,260, $3,800, and $4,200, respectively. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.