March 16, 2023
by Matt Reudink
There are few places in the world filled with as much watchmaking lore as the tiny Saxon town of Glashütte. In 1845, Ferdinand Adolph Lange was sent to the sleepy mining town in the Ore mountains to establish a center for German watchmaking akin to the booming industry in Switzerland. The gambit worked, and over the ensuing decades, Glashütte became renowned for its watchmaking, with multiple brands birthed from Glashütte’s watchmaking school. Among those early brands was Union Glashütte. The brand was originally established as the Uhrenfabrik Union in Glashütte in 1893 by Johannes Dürrstein (a longtime figure in the German watch industry who was also responsible for the distribution of watches at A. Lange & Söhne). Over the following decades, Union Glashütte became a mainstay of Glashütte watchmaking until World War II. Like so many Glashütte brands, Union Glashütte was later revived and re-founded as a subsidiary of Glashütte Original in 1996. After Swatch Group acquired the brands in 2000, they decided to split the two, allowing Union Glashütte to operate independently from Glashütte Original. For the past 15 years, Union Glashütte has been quietly crafting some incredibly attractive watches, yet within the pantheon of Glashütte brands, it always seems to fly under the radar. That’s a shame, as its combination of design, quality, and price make its watches compelling — and none more so than the Noramis Date Sport.
Take a look through Union Glashütte’s catalog, and you’ll find everything from square-cased chronographs to elegantly bejeweled women’s watches. Whether you’re looking for something bold or something classic, you’re likely to find it. One watch that instantly stands out in the lineup, however, is the Noramis Date Sport. With its absolutely gorgeous sunburst dégradé dial (available in green, blue, yellow, and black), the Noramis Sport Date is an interesting mix of vintage and modern styling. While we’ve seen countless vintage re-issues over the last few years, most of which look like they were found in a dusty cupboard in the back of factory, dusted off, and put up for sale as new old stock, the Noramis Date Sport is something entirely different. Sure, there are vintage cues, like the box crystal and the skin diver-esque case, but so much else is thoroughly modern. It’s this tension between old and new that defines the Noramis Date Sport.
The stainless-steel case on the Noramis Date Sport measures in at 42mm in diameter, 49mm lug-to-lug, and 12.9mm-thick, with an annoying 21mm lug width. Options are getting better when it comes to 21mm straps, but they’re still not abundant. The case itself has skin diver vibes, with a lack of crown guards and thin mid-case, though lacking the tell-tale squared-off inner lugs. The top and bottom of the case have a high-polish finish, while the sides feature fine brushing and nice transitions between surfaces. For those with smaller wrists (mine is 6.75”), the deeply sloping lugs ensure that the watch sits comfortably and securely, despite being on the larger end of the spectrum. I’d love to see another version of this watch in a 39-40mm case with a 20mm lug width, for those of us who prefer smaller watches. That said, there are plenty of watch enthusiasts who have been watching the flood of vintage-inspired dive watches coming in at ~39mm and waiting for one to finally be released in a larger diameter. If you’re in that boat, you’re in luck.
The dial of the Noramis Date Sport is gorgeous — full stop. The green is a color-shifting teal that strikes a nice balance between subtlety and color pop. The color fades to black toward the outside of the dial, allowing the applied triangular indices to shine. Both the hands and indices are polished and do an excellent job of catching the light. Speaking of the indices, there are a couple cool touches that are worth noting. Immediately obvious is the large, applied numerals at 12 o’clock — a design cue you’ll find across the Union Glashütte range. Next, if you look closely at the 3, 6, and 9 indices, you’ll see that they’re larger and stretch further outward into the minute track, whereas the rest of the indices begin at the minute track. It’s a small but nice touch that makes the dial more dynamic. The handset matches the styling of the indices and results in a package that looks and feels intentionally designed. Nicely done.
One aspect of the dial that’s a bit jarring is the size of the UNION text at 12 o’clock. It’s easy to ignore but certainly isn’t subtle. Other small details on the dial include a minutes track that radiates outward rather than inward and a date window that’s trapezoidal rather than rectangular. Again, these are all small touches, but they add up to a refined design.
Surrounding the dial is a 120-click unidirectional bezel with an inky black ceramic insert. The thin markers and text are clean and, in a welcome touch, the bezel font matches that of the 12 o’clock marker. The action on the coin-edge bezel is solid and secure, though it’s not terribly grippy. The watch is topped with a box sapphire crystal, which adds to the case height, but is a nice, vintage touch. Some box crystals can cause too much distortion, but here the distortion is minimal and only noticeable at steep viewing angles. Finally, the watch sports a solid 200m of water resistance.
Behind a display caseback is the UNG-07-S1 automatic movement. The movement is based on the ETA 2892 but receives some important modifications, including a Silicon balance spring and a 60-hour power reserve. Longer power reserves are fantastic, but the trade-off here is a slightly reduced beat rate of 25,200 bph (3.5Hz). Finally, the movements are finished, hand-assembled, and regulated by the team in Glashütte.
The Noramis Date Sport comes mounted on a silvery gray textile strap with tool-free quick-release spring bars. Aesthetically, the strap is a great match with the watch. Out of the box, the strap is quite stiff, though it will undoubtedly soften up with extended wear. That said, this style of watch welcomes strap changes, and I found myself enjoying the watch on both black and gray NATO-style straps. Luckily, I have a bunch of 21mm straps in my drawer, but I’m in the minority here, so many will have to search out some harder-to-find 21mm straps to change up the look. If you can find a nice 21mm tropic strap, that’s bound to look stellar in the summer.
The Noramis Date Sport is a tricky one to define — it has both modern and vintage cues, has an elegant dial and beautiful finishes like the indices and handset, yet it’s housed in a 42mm case and is plenty rugged and practical. But it’s that lack of clarity in definition that makes the Noramis Date Sport appealing. Priced at €2,400 Euros (including VAT), the Noramis Date Sport is by no means inexpensive. However, considering that you’re getting a watch that’s made in Germany, with its Glashütte origin on proud display (a designation that comes with its own set of criteria), a time-tested movement with practical and welcome upgrades, and an absolutely stunning dial, the Noramis Date Sport is a compelling package. To learn more about Union Glashütte and the Noramis Date Sport, please visit the brand’s website.
>Brand: Union Glashütte
>Model: Noramis Date Sport
>Price: 2,400 € including VAT
>Size: 42mm diameter, 49mm lug-to-lug, 12.9mm thickness, 21mm lug width.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Great summer watch, but surprisingly versatile and works well with dark outfits, providing just a touch of color.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for an elevated skin diver, a dive watch with vintage cues that’s executed to a high standard.
>Best characteristic of watch: Gorgeous green dégradé dial with complementary indices and handset; overall cohesive design.
>Worst characteristic of watch: 21mm lug width.