If you’ve spent any time perusing the NOMOS catalog in search of a sporty offering, there’s a good chance you’ve landed on the Club line. First introduced in 2007, the Club is NOMOS’s signature, and extremely versatile, sports watch. Over its brief history, the Club has seen numerous iterations in size, movement, and colorways (not to mention the myriad limited editions). Even in its current lineup, NOMOS offers a grand total of 18 Club models ranging from the 36mm Club ref 701 to the 42mm Club Sport Neomatik. All NOMOS models feature an in-house movement, but you can choose between models featuring the handwinding Alpha caliber or a Neomatik automatic movement. Oh, and date or no date. Not surprisingly, the variety of options results in a range of prices, from $1500 to $4060. Yup, there are enough options to make your head spin, but luckily it’s hard to go wrong when choosing a NOMOS.
Earlier this year, I had the chance to spend some time with the NOMOS Ahoi Neomatik 561 – a 36mm automatic sports watch that I’ll admit to being a bit obsessed with at the moment (it may find its way under the Christmas tree this year). That review was my first chance to wear a NOMOS watch for an extended time, and I’ve been eager to test-drive another. Though I’m privileged to have watches constantly showing up at my door for review, the ones I’m most drawn to for my personal collection tend to be versatile pieces that I can wear almost anytime. A dark dial Club certainly fits those criteria, but the trick turned out to be deciding which Club to review. Being afflicted by overchoice, I settled on a few criteria to narrow the field: dark dial, moderate size (I have a 6.75” wrist, so sadly, the Club Neomatik Sport is a bit large for me), and automatic movement. That whittled things down to the Club Neomatik Atlantik (ref 741) and the Club Campus Neomatik 39 Midnight Blue (ref 767).
Well, I still couldn’t decide, but NOMOS was kind enough to send both watches along for review. Ultimately, I’d imagine there are a fair number of people out there facing the same dilemma when looking at the Club line. Though superficially, the two watches I’m reviewing have much in common – dark blue dial, similar layout, same movement – it’s the little differences that give each watch a personality all its own and ultimately lead to a very different wearing experience. This review isn’t meant to be a shootout or a which-is-best article, but rather a side-by-side comparison that highlights both the similarities and differences between these two watches that just might help someone else confounded by choice.
If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, NOMOS watches are proudly made in Glashütte, Germany — a small but vibrant center for watchmaking that has become the Saxon heart of German horology. Established in 1992, NOMOS watches have a distinct, youthful design language that is, at once, minimal and playful. Though inspired by Bauhaus, NOMOS’s Berlin-based design team has reinterpreted the design language in a novel way that makes the brand’s watches instantly recognizable. These watches are not inexpensive by any means, but I believe they offer an outstanding value for what you get: unique design language, beautiful in-house movements, and a watch manufactured almost entirely in Glashütte. If it’s not already clear, I’m a big fan of the brand.
For most watches, my eye is immediately drawn to the dial, but the flowing, sculptural beauty of the Club’s case seems to catch my attention more than most watches. Regardless of model, the Club’s stainless-steel case is characterized by a broad, rounded bezel and, most notably, the trademark long, curving lugs (48.5mm lug-to-lug on the Club Neomatik’s 37mm case and 49.5mm lug-to-lug on the Club Campus Neomatik 39’s 39.5mm case). The curvaceous case is quite a contrast to the more angular and austere lines of models like the Tangente and Ahoi and, coupled with the high polish finish, they soften the overall look of the watch. The soft lines simply invite you to strap on the watch and promise a comfortable wearing experience – luckily they deliver on that front.
One thing that may not be readily apparent in photos, but is visually charming in person, is the two-piece case design in which the bezel and midcase are a made from a single piece of steel. With no transition between the bezel and case, the design accentuates the soft, flowing lines of the case and lugs. The crown is modestly size, but easy to grip and adjust. The crown does not screw down, but the watch still features 100m of water resistance.
Despite similar cases and only ~2mm in diameter, the wearing experience of both watches is quite different. Both are svelte (9.3mm height on the Club Neomatik and 8.4mm on the Club Campus Neomatik 39), but the major differentiating factor is the lug width – 18mm on the Club Neomatik and 20mm on the Club Campus Neomatik 39. Though they both sport a blue-black nylon strap (which, by the way, is extremely comfortable), the 20mm lug width makes the Club Campus Neomatik 39 feel like a much more substantial watch and provides additional wrist presence. Both watches feel excellent on my wrist all day and there are no issues comfort-wise for either watch, it’s simply that the slightly wider dial coupled with the long lugs and wider strap make the Club Campus Neomatik 39 wear like a much larger watch than the Club Neomatik. As such, the Club Neomatik works a bit better for smaller wrists or as a unisex offering – it fits just as nicely on my wife’s slender wrists as it does on my own. Luckily, the medium strap only fits my wrist, so she hasn’t been able to steal it away.
When it comes to the dial, both watches are offered in dark blue but the shades are entirely distinct – the Atlanik dial on the Club Neomatik is a deep slate with only a touch of blue (though set against the white numerals, the blue shines through more so than on the same Atlantik dial of the Ahoi). Meanwhile, the Midnight Blue of the Club Campus Neomatik 39 is more of a deep navy that reads, even at a glance, as a blue dial watch. Despite both being blue dial watches and utilizing the same bauplan, the differences in color and numerals result in entirely different personas.
I see the Club Neomatik as the more youthful and casual of the two watches. The white hands and numerals/markers, coupled with mint green Arabic numerals delineating each five-minute interval, and bright orange seconds hand in subdial epitomize NOMOS’s mastery of color. These pops of color are playful and fun without being garish or overwhelming. They simply work together.
The Club Campus Neomatik 39, on the other hand, has a more subdued and mature color scheme, utilizing only rose gold hands, five-minute numerals, and accents set off against the blue of the dial and white of the numerals. It’s a more sophisticated color palette that makes me think of a classic navy blazer with gold buttons. But, to avoid erring too far on the side of sophistication, NOMOS brings back the funk by utilizing a reverse California dial that’s seen across the Club Campus line. It’s a juxtaposition against the more formal colorway and results in a loveably quirky combination – which seems to be NOMOS’s modus operandi. That said, I’d imagine that given the versatility of this colorway and the charm of the rose gold accents, there are more than a few fans of the brand wishing for a full Arabic numeral dial (not me, though).
Both the Club Neomatik and the Club Campus Neomatik 39 utilize Super-LumiNova on the hands and indices that glows a soft blue. Unfortunately, lume is not one of NOMOS’s strong suits. The hands, and to a lesser degree the numerals and hour markers can be seen when the lights go out… but not very well. While it’s not a deal-breaker, by any means, I still wish NOMOS would step up in the lume department and provide brighter, longer-lasting lume.
Both the Club Neomatik and Club Campus Neomatik 39 are powered, as the name would suggest, by NOMOS’s Neomatik movement – specifically caliber DUW 3001. This is an automatic movement that features 27 jewels a 43-hour power reserve, and NOMOS’s swing system escapement. It’s a fantastic little movement (literally, it’s only 3.2mm high and 28.8mm in diameter) and NOMOS goes through the extra effort to decorate it with thermally-blued screws, rhodium-plating, Glashütte ribbing, and NOMOS perlage. Plus, it’s regulated in six positions, so should be quite accurate out of the box. It’s a movement that you want to see through a sapphire caseback. Unfortunately, only the Club Neomatik comes stock with a sapphire caseback. The Club Campus Neomatik 39, on the other hand, has a solid stainless steel caseback with ample blank space in case you want to engrave a message. My recommendation: Pay the couple hundred bucks extra and get the sapphire caseback if you choose the Club Campus Neomatik 39.
Both the NOMOS Club Neomatik and the Club Campus Neomatik 39 are outstanding watches in their class. Even though the Neomatik movement bumps the price up substantially from the hand-wound versions, I still think NOMOS is offering excellent value considering that you’re getting watch made almost entirely in Glashütte with a fantastic in-house movement that’s quite a beauty to behold. More importantly, the Club models (and almost all NOMOS watches for that matter) have a look and personality all their own that you simply can’t find elsewhere.
I suppose the question at this point is which watch would I choose if I were spending my hard-earned cash? Between these two offerings, I would likely lean towards the 37mm Club Neomatik. Mostly, this is because I prefer the look of the 18mm strap on this watch and I enjoy the under-the-radar wrist presence of the 37mm version. The display back is another bonus. But if I’m being perfectly honest, I’d probably dig a bit deeper in the piggy bank and upend a few more couch cushions to pick up the 36mm Ahoi for my dark-dial NOMOS. That said, I have to admit that the Club Neomatik in Siren Blue (ref 742) is looking pretty appealing for a summer watch.
The NOMOS Club Neomatik is priced at $3,160 USD, while the Club Campus Neomatik 39 is priced at $2,980 USD. For more information on NOMOS’ Club line of watches, visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Club Neomatik (ref 741) and Club Campus Neomatik 39 (ref 767)
>Price: Club Neomatik: $3160; Club Campus Neomatik 39: $2980
>Size: Club Neomatik: 37mm-wide, 9.3mm-tall, 48.5mm lug-to-lug; Club Campus Neomatik 39: 39.5mm-wide, 8.4mm-tall, 49.5mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Anytime, but especially when wearing smart-casual clothes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for a versatile watch with its own unique style and story. I’d suggest the Club Campus Neomatik, in particular, to a friend whose style edges more toward sophisticated but enjoys a dash of fun.
>Best characteristic of watch: Toss-up between color choices and the case shape.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Weak lume