Today Nomos Glashütte is opening up pre-orders for their ‘A Century Of Bauhaus’ Limited Edition Tangente watches. The watches come in a total of 3 colour configurations on sketch paper coloured dials, across 3 sizes (33 mm, 35 mm and 38 mm). 100 watches per colour per size (900 watches in total).
Now’s a good time to talk about something at the heart of all Nomos watches. Design.
Despite obvious parallels between Nomos watches and Bauhaus design, and aside from this newest limited edition; Nomos isn’t Bauhaus in the literal sense of the word. It is in fact (and Nomos even proudly states it within their branding philosophy) more aligned to the Deutscher Werkbund. Founded in 1907, the Deutscher Werkbund (German Association of Craftsman) was an association of creatives. Architects, designers and artists; the sort of people drawn to Nomos watches today.
Their motto, Vom Sofakissen zum Städtebau (from sofa cushions to city-building) reflected their ambition to see German arts and crafts celebrated on a global stage. The founders, Hermann Muthesius and Henry van de Velde drew inspiration from William Morris and his long association with the British Arts and Crafts movement. Where William sought to revive traditional crafts on the human scale using man power, the Deutscher Werkbund combined the best of traditional expertise with the efficiency of machinery. After all, to compete, Germany needed to scale up production and promote what it had done well domestically.
Excessive ornamentation was scrapped, form was to follow function. The principles of the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus school shouldn’t however be associated with the cold sterility, which can very much be the case when that ‘Bauhaus’ aesthetic is misconstrued for sheer utilitarian minimalism. Just look at the Nomos Metro with its quirky hour markers. Its simple, clean design is fun and slightly tongue-in-cheek. The Metro was the first reference to house Nomos’ in-house escapement (the Swing System), no small feat. Behind that fun exterior lies impressive watchmaking prowess. Serious watchmaking bang for your buck.
The Metro shares a lot in common with Mies van der Rohe’s Weißenhof Werkbund settlement building (pictured above), the angular date window and curved wire lugs are reminiscent of the balance between the sharp lines of the windows and curved metal balustrade found on the exterior of the building. Mies Van der Rohe’s cantilever chair is another obvious design inspiration.
Both the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus school knew that products (even if they were to be mass produced) were not simply made to be used; good design had (and still has) the added benefit of improving the users quality of life. Long before TED talks discussed the democratisation of design, this is essentially what was happening in Germany back in the early 20th century. And although Nomos is a comparatively young brand in the watch industry, it is perhaps one of the best qualified to celebrate 100 years of Bauhaus (even if said celebrations are happening a year ahead of schedule).
Inspired by Paul Klee
Nomos made mention that the design was inspired by the sketches of Paul Klee – all round rennaisance man and proponent of Bauhaus design – the parallels are obvious, most notably in the use of soft pastels are warm hues.
During his time in Düsseldorf, Klee illustrated a series of guardian angels. One of the works titled “In Engelshut” (In the Angel’s Care) with its overlapping figures, represents his overlapping drawing styles throughout the 20’s and 30’s. It’s much the same with the Century of Bauhaus Nomos watches.
These watches can be what you want them to be. The design is distinct enough amongst the current Nomos lineup, yet unobtrusive enough to easily work its way into any collectors collection.
So will this watch improve your quality of life? Well that’s hard to measure. But what it does do is pay tribute to one of the great schools of design whilst appearing thoroughly contemporary. Its unique look is complemented by the rock-solid Alpha movement from Nomos beating at 3 Hz (21,600 vph) and with 43 hours of power in the tank. It tells the time reliably and without fuss all the while being beautiful to look at. Not a bad proposition indeed.
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