February 22, 2013
by Adi Soon
Nomos Glashütte is one of those brands that any watch lover comes to know in a somewhat more intermediate stage of watch appreciation. Certain ideas of what makes a fine watch are realized at this stage, and Nomos Glashütte is fully formed to cater to the people who come up the ladder.
First, we have the in-house movements that power every Nomos watch. It is to be said that any watch brand with their own movements is instantly respected and set apart from the many brands that use the ubiquitously ETA-sourced movements.
Then, there is the location of the manufacture in Glashütte Germany, arguably the second most important place for fine watch-making after Switzerland. Indeed, this is a place that has something of a mystical air, coming as it has into prominence more recently. In fact, Nomos counts among its neighbours in the small town of Glashütte, other notable brands like A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original.
Third, we have the price, which is a thoroughly accessible 4,080 Euros from the online Nomos store. Mind you as well, that this is for the Zürich Weltzeit that is under review, and is the current flagship of the brand.
As a brand then, Nomos Glashütte has all the essential ingredients of a watch lover’s brand. Aside from these ingredients, one only has to look at the range of watches from Nomos to instantly recognize the strong design identity that immediately sets them apart.
The stark, severe Bauhaus inspired design, emphasizing function and minimalism is self-evident where not an inch of excess is to be found anywhere. Indeed, Nomos watches have been called minimalist, and the design identity is so strong that it extends to the packaging. I received this Nomos Zürich Weltzeit in a slim cardboard box that was only big enough for the watch to lay flat in. Protected by two pieces of dense black foam, the inner box where the watch is slides out from the main cover to be revealed in all its glory
Mind you, while the box is simple, it is strong, well made and serves the purpose of protecting the watch without any superfluous frills. That to me, was an unmatched delight, and proves the disciplined approach that Nomos has made to its entire product offering.
The Nomos Zurich Weltzeit is a watch that I’ve been longing to have a look at for a long time. It is the flagship of the range, with a complication that I particularly like, and I was interested to see how Nomos had placed its unique stamp on an otherwise common complication.
This Nomos Weltzeit that I’ve had for three weeks has opened the door to a quietly meditative watch wearing experience. This is the first Nomos watch that I have been able to wear for a reasonable amount of time, and it exemplifies the design ethos so thoroughly that I can safely say that design wise, there is nothing else quite like it.
While the watch is technically a GMT in the sense that one can only keep track of two time-zones at once, I am willing to consider it something of an in-between type complication between a normal GMT and a full world-timer. I offer two reasons. The first is that because it retains the world cities around the dial which still gives the feel of a world-timer. The second reason is that changing the time-zone is almost so effortless that it is no big deal to see what the time is in another city. In fact, given the way the complication works, I would even go so far as to say that it becomes a distinct pleasure to press the button at 2 o’clock in order to hear the click of the mechanism as the hour hand moves in conjunction with the city.
Consider that normal GMT watches with city rings require you to move the bezel to match a GMT hand in order to read the time in another city. Compared to the Nomos Weltzeit, that is just a pain in the ass.
So how do you use the watch?
First, you set your home time (heimat) at the little wheel at 3 o’clock. After that, you use a little pin to disengage the mechanism, and set the same time on the main hour and minute hands while synchronizing it to your home time zone. After that, your watch is set. Home time moves on its own accord, and the little pusher at 2 o’clock can then be pressed in order to move the main hour hand to the new time zone of your choice.
So, imagine now that you are at home in London and you are flying to New York. Your home time will always be showing you London time in a 24 hour format (so you know if it is day or night at home). When you land in New York, all you have to do is to use the little pusher to advance the city wheel to New York, aligned with the marker at 12 o’clock, and the main hand moves synchronously to show you local time in New York. Simple and effortless wouldn’t you say?
Practical usage aside, there is much to enjoy about this watch as well.
The design is something quite breathtaking and the quiet beauty that I have mentioned strikes you at moments when you want to check the time. It would have been quite possible to busy up the dial given the amount of things that it has to have in order to function as a world-timer. However, Nomos has been able to give you functionality while retaining the minimalist ethos. I have to say that it is quite an achievement. In use, I was able to look quickly at what I needed to, and not be distracted by other things. I hazard to guess that the choice of colors for the markings on the dial has something to do with it.
Furthermore, the modest size of 40 mm allows this watch to disappear under your shirt cuff, and function as an outstanding dress or suit watch. And if you are working in an industry where keeping track of the time in other parts of the world is important, there is no better watch than this one.
Beauty in this watch also extends to those moments when you take it off, and turn the watch over to look at its display case back. The extent of the finishing on the movement is exceptional.
It was almost a disappointment when I had to pack up this watch to return it to Nomos after my time with it under review. I have had a wonderful time with it and I am sure that if you are looking at this watch as a next purchase, you will have a similar kind of appreciation of what this watch can give you.
I for one have placed this watch on my “to buy” list, and hopefully will be able to enjoy it again very soon.
Calibre: NOMOS calibre xi
stainless steel, ten parts; diameter 39.9 mm; sapphire crystal glass front & back; height 10.85 mm
galvanized, white silver-plated, with world time and 24-hour indicator
Shell Cordovan black, size M
>Model: Zurich Weltzeit
>Price: 4,800 Euros
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: You want an affordable world-timer with an in-house made movement and the concept of Bauhaus design makes you happy.
>Best characteristic of watch: Good value for the money with a useful movement.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Well-made and meticulously detailed, the overall design of the watch has zero bling and will turn off luxury seekers.