Square-shaped wrist watches are hard to get right. I’ve talked about this plenty of times over the years while reviewing other famous square or rectangular-shaped timepieces, such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso or the Cartier Santos. Round watches rule the roost, but angular timepieces are an interesting delicacy and find themselves part of any well-rounded collection. Today, I look at a very competent and nicely made square watch known as the Tetra Neomatik from Glashutte, Germany-based Nomos. The Tetra is very close to the brand’s founding ethos as a Bauhaus-style timepiece with regard to the dial, with a slightly more decorative Art Deco-style case given its architecture and “stepped” lugs. For a long time, Nomos only used its manually wound movements in the Tetra watch. More recently, the German company decided to include its in-house thin automatic caliber DUW 3001 in the Tetra family, resulting in the Nomos Tetra Neomatik. These are four limited-edition versions of the current Nomos Tetra Neomatik.
More specifically, these four watches are each limited to 175 pieces as part of the brand’s celebration, not of the age of the company but the number of years that watchmaking has been prominent in the town of Glashutte (175 years). To celebrate this occasion, the four Tetra Neomatrik 175 watches are given an interesting and rather hip dial color, as well as being paired with a dark brown Horween Shell Cordovan leather strap.
Nomos agrees that the Tetra collection has been “stepped up” as a result of being offered with an automatic movement. I wouldn’t have been interested in this watch with a manually wound movement, but it speaks to me very differently with this rather thin in-house automatic movement. While the Tetra Neomatik isn’t an inexpensive timepiece, it is much more value-priced than more traditional names in the luxury watch space, and few of them are as thin as the Tetra Neomatik. Maybe you wouldn’t call it “ultra-thin,” but it is certainly thin, and that is good enough for me. Accordingly, a major benefit of this watch isn’t just the dressy Bauhaus looks, but also the rather thin wearing profile and automatic movement.
The movement in the watch is Nomos’ good-performing DUW 3001 mechanism, which the brand claims is each regulated to Chronometer standards (so it is accurate). The movement operates at 4Hz with 43 hours of power reserve and is in total just 3.2mm-thick. You can view the nicely decorated movement with its skeletonized automatic rotor through the sapphire crystal caseback through the back of the watch. Another notable feature of the movement is the double-sided bridge holding the balance wheel in place, a feature that offers more durability and shock resistance. This is a really nice-looking and -performing movement for the money.
On paper, the Tetra Neomatik case sounds small, but it wears a bit larger given its square proportions. That said, this is not a large watch — it’s mostly suited to formal attire or something with sleeves. I like the overall look of this case and dial so much that I would forgive the smaller dimensions and wear a watch like this rather often, especially because the watch calls attention to itself in a polite manner, and doesn’t “get in the way” like larger watches can. The case in polished steel is a 33mm-wide square and is 7.3mm-thick. The lugs angle down a little bit and have a 45.3mm long lug-to-lug distance. You can see how it wears on the wrist and can imagine it looking much more petite if it were a round case. I think if I could change the side, I would make it about 2mm larger. But that is just my personal taste and, at 33mm, this isn’t at all a dealbreaker for me, given the overall fun and composed wearing experience. Over the dial is an AR-coated flat sapphire crystal and the Tetra Neomatik case is water resistant to 30 meters (typical for square watches).
A lot of the little details Nomos gets right, such as the quality of the dials, the care in choosing the color combinations, and even the polish of the needle-style hands. These are the exact style of hands that can get utterly lost on a dial if they are too polished. Nomos gives the hands a duller polish so that they have the right look but also don’t reflect as much light and harm dial legibility. The use of a subsidiary seconds dial on the overall dial is class and helps makes good use of the square space.
Nomos chose a nice assortment of dial colors for this limited-edition set of four, and I was lucky enough to get a chance to wear all of them. None of the colors is a bad choice, to be honest, but I felt myself going for the red-dialed version, given that you don’t see too many watches quite like that. The off-white dial is probably the sleeper hit, and the black dial is far more interesting than your standard black because of the color of the hour markers paired with the brown strap. Speaking of the strap, it is very high-quality American leather that is beat with glass beads to make it shiny and is also not too thick. Nomos even designed a rather decent fold-over deployant clasp to go with these watches, which is not the case for all the Tetra Neomatik models, such as the non-limited edition pieces. The deployant seems to be inspired by Cartier and has some similar finicky needs to dramatically bend the leather when initially sizing it. That said, once the deployant is set up, it wears comfortably and securely.
A watch like the reference 421 family Tetra Neomatik is really German Nomos at its best. The brand makes a high-end timepiece that rejects the term “luxury” and offers a classic wearing experience with bold yet polite visuals all in an in-house-made package at a still-reasonable price. These watches really grew on me, and I want more occasions to wear them. I have a feeling that Nomos will sell out of the limited-edition models rather quickly, but other versions of the Tetra Neomatik are and will continue to be available. The watches shown here are the Tetra Neomatik 175 references 421.S1 “Off White, 421.S2 “Red,” 421.S3 “Blue,” and 421.S4 “Black.” Price for each is $3,860 USD. Learn more or order at the Nomos watches website here.
>Model: Tetra Neomatik 175 Years Watchmaking Glashutte
>Price: $3,860 USD
>Size: 33mm-wide, 7.3mm-thick, 45.3mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As an eye-catching yet humble dress watch or with long sleeves.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Fan of thin, interesting-looking dress watches seeking a good value and distinctive look.
>Best characteristic of watch: Excellent fit and finishing along with overall proportions and looks. High-quality thin-size automatic movement which is visible through the case year. Attractive selection of dial colors for this limited-edition series.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Case size still feels small for a lot of tastes. I would like to see Nomos experiment with a larger version. Needle hands are handsome but not the most legible for those with poorer vision.