NOMOS Glashütte, founded in 1990, has repeatedly released stunningly beautiful watches, imbued with much in-house expertise, that subscribe to the Bauhaus design doctrine. The company’s latest offering, the Tetra neomatik, is presented in a supremely stylish square case and harnesses everything that is wonderful about NOMOS.
Since the advent of the first wristwatch in 1868, produced by the Swiss maison, Patek Philippe, wristwatches have embraced numerous geometric shapes. Indeed, admirers of horology will freely use terms such as ‘tonneau’ (barrel-shaped), ‘coussin’ (cushion-shaped), ‘rectangular’ or ‘circular’ to describe the profile of their chosen timepiece.
A glance through the shatter-proof windows of any watch retailer will reveal that circular timepieces are, by far, the most popular. Releasing a circular watch, quite frankly, presents the least commercial risk for any watch company.
NOMOS Glashütte is no stranger to the round watch case, offering a myriad of models with circular faces. However, the German watch company has always demonstrated a notable boldness, conceiving unique designs and producing many of its watch components in-house.
The ‘Tetra’ has been a mainstay of the NOMOS collection for several years. The square shaped case has always effervesced with style owing to its distinctive profile and, in several instances, the use of vibrant hues, seldom seen elsewhere. Until earlier this year, the Tetra has been an overtly feminine offering, however, at Baselworld 2016, NOMOS revealed a masculine variant of its square-cased Tetra.
Would-be buyers have two variants to choose from, the Tetra neomatik, with a galvanised white silver-plated dial, and the Tetra neomatik tiefblau, sporting a lacquered, deep blue canvas. Each variant proves supremely simple to read, typical of NOMOS timepieces.
The dial of the Tetra neomatik portrays a greater quotient of innocence than its blue dial sibling. Indeed, the white silver-plated dial is a visual metaphor for purity.
The hour and minute hands are ‘oxidised black’, proffering peerless contrast with the white dial surface. The supremely slender hands join forces with the hour markers and minute track to pronounce the prevailing time with crisp diction.
Part of the reason for the lucid interaction with the wearer can be attributed to the intelligent use of text, markings and colour. Black Arabic numerals proclaim the even-numbered hours, whilst matching, slender batons are employed for the odd-numbered hours. Examining the font used for the black hour markings reveals a beautifully stylish bespoke font, delivering a welcome mix of attractiveness and legibility. The minute track employs cyan coloured Arabic numerals, arranged at 10-minute integers, with short black strokes positioned in between.
Above 6 o’clock a small running seconds resides in a recessed subdial. A svelte red lacquered hand adds a seemly flourish of colour to the dial. Indeed, appraising the dial as a whole, NOMOS has cleverly imbued the Tetra neomatik with a plethora of delightful design details, but never at the expense of clarity.
The stainless steel case is of two-piece construction and measures 33mm x 33mm. Whilst the watch is not marketed as ‘ultra-thin’, its height of 7.2mm is wonderfully restrained, allowing the watch to readily nuzzle beneath a shirt cuff.
The exhibition case back discreetly meets the case band just below the crown and is fractionally smaller than the upper section of the case. The crown is highly polished on its vertical plane and proudly features ‘NOMOS’ in capitalised text. The square sapphire crystal above the dial does not noticeably protrude above the case, reinforcing the perception of neatness.
Over the years, NOMOS has invariably equipped its watches with ‘Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan’ straps. This latest Tetra neomatik proves to be no exception and is equipped with a very attractive black version of the strap, paired with a steel pin buckle.
When appraising the exterior of the NOMOS Glashütte Tetra neomatik, two words often come to the fore: ‘understated’ and ‘elegant’. The allure of this timepiece is that it seems effortlessly stylish, neat and comfortable.
NOMOS Glashütte Tetra neomatik is equipped with the in-house automatic Caliber DUW 3001. The German watch brand has always been different from many of its competitors, choosing to make many of its components in-house.
For several years, this practitioner of horology from Saxony has offered timepieces equipped with manufacture movements. However, in recent times NOMOS has created its own ‘swing system’, or as the French say ‘assortiment’. The first occasion I talked about the brand’s own proprietary escapement was in 2014 whilst reviewing the Metro model. The investment necessary for NOMOS to realize its own ‘swing system’ would have been significant and atypical of a relatively small watch brand.
The progressive watch brand has never ceased evolving its watches and recently announced that it was replacing the Triovis regulatory system with its new DUW regulatory system. When regulating the movement, the watchmaker adjusts the effective length of the balance spring in order to make the balance run faster or slower. By adopting the new DUW regulatory system, the balance can be adjusted from above and, according to NOMOS, regulating the balance is ‘now both easier and quicker’.
Another subtle enhancement relates to the motion of the oscillating mass. On this timepiece, once the movement has stored sufficient energy within the spring barrel, the oscillating mass automatically ceases to rotate, mitigating wear. I have seen a similar facility on some über-expensive watches, costing in excess of £100,000, where the wearer can manually disable the motion of the rotor when playing sport. However, I have never seen a brand equip a watch with a rotor which automatically halts when advantageous. Furthermore, this feature is even more impressive considering the comparatively modest price of £2,420.
The height of the Caliber DUW 3001 is a mere 3.2mm, explaining why the cased watch is just 7.2mm. However, despite the slender profile of the movement, NOMOS has suffused the Caliber DUW 3001 with a delightful degree of decoration. Thermally blued screws populate the three-quarter plate and balance bridge. The three-quarter plate is adorned with Glashütte ribbing and the mainplate is circular grained.
The Tetra neomatik is imbued with an array of virtues. The dial is attractive and simple to read. The case rests unobtrusively on the wrist, according high levels of comfort.
The movement wonderfully demonstrates the creativity of the German watch brand. By making the Caliber DUW 3001 in-house, NOMOS is less reliant on third parties. Furthermore, the company’s constant drive to enhance its products has led to improved accuracy, less wear, greater precision and cost savings.
Part of the NOMOS paradigm is a willingness to take risks. The investment necessary to manufacture its own in-house movements would have been colossal. Moreover, the ‘swing system’ would have necessitated substantial amounts of Euros to bring to fruition. Nevertheless, NOMOS has repeatedly displayed this bravery and, therefore, I am not surprised about the release of the Tetra neomatik, a commercially riskier square-shaped watch. However, I suspect this courage will, once again, yield huge dividends as this timepiece arrives in retail stores and sells like the proverbial hot cakes.
Whether buyers favour the pale skin of the Tetra neomatik or the sultry tones of the Tetra neomatik Tiefblau, remains to be seen, but for now NOMOS Glashütte clearly demonstrates that ‘It’s hip to be square’.
Model: NOMOS Glashütte Tetra neomatik
Case: Stainless steel; dimensions 33mm x 33mm; height 7.2mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and case back.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.