Nomos Glashütte is a brand synonymous with good design. Without doubt, form and function are the guiding principles of the Nomos approach to watchmaking. The recent success of the Tangente Neomatik 41 Update in Hamburg at the 2019 iF Design Awards proves yet again that there is a winning mentality within their creative department. When Nomos innovates, the design community applauds.
There are several major authorities of aesthetic within the watch world. To properly acknowledge just how remarkable and commendable the recent success of Nomos has been, it is important to understand the prizes themselves.
Let us start with perhaps the most prestigious prize in watchmaking: the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). In November each year, the entire world’s horological attention descends upon Geneva to celebrate the very best in watchmaking. The prize began acknowledging excellence in 2001 and has since become a highly respected (and duly revered) accolade in the industry. Prizes are awarded across various categories from chronographs to complications, but whatever the category, receiving recognition at the GPHG means that a brand has made a significant contribution to the overall narrative and culture of watchmaking. Simply put, it asserts that a company’s efforts have made the watch world a better place.
In 2018 Nomos was awarded the GPHG Challenge Prize for the Tangente neotmatik 41 Update. For the timepiece, the GPHG lauded Nomos for their ability to produce an aesthetically and mechanically exceptional timepiece whilst at the same time being able to offer it to the market at a remarkably reasonable price. The judges declared the watch as being ‘typically Nomos, typically Glashütte, and something special in the world of watchmaking.’ These words should not be taken lightly.
With GPHG taken care of, we should turn our attention towards the iF Design Awards. Taking place in Hamburg, the iF International Forum Design hosts the award which seeks to recognise excellence in design from all around the world: each year the Design Award receives 5000 submissions from more than 70 countries. Whereas the GPHG focuses exclusively on watchmaking, the iF Design Awards are broader in scope. From architecture and interior design to service design and communication, a wide range of disciplines are represented. Watches fit into the ‘Product’ category, within which is also included categories such as automobiles, furniture, lighting and technology. Aside from celebrating innovate design, the aims of iF extend to the desires to ‘raise awareness of design among the public’, ‘effect social change through design’, and ‘support talented young people’. Clearly, design means much more than merely aesthetic merit: design is the means by which we simplify, refine and improve the human experience.
As it appears, Nomos is in fact quite the darling of iF. Starting in 2013 when Nomos received their first Product Design Award for the Zürich, the Glashütte team has collected a total of 8 titles for their timepieces. In chronological order, the following watches have earned critical acclaim from iF: the Tangomat GMT Plus (2013), the Ahoi (2014), the Metro Datum Gangreverse (2015), the Minimatik (Gold Award 2016), the Tangente neomatik Nachtblau (2017), and the Metro neomatik Silvercut (2018). As of this year, Nomos can also include the veritable Tangente Update to a prestigious list which they have somehow continued to consistently add to every year since they received their first iF award.
Updating the Tangente
What is so special the Tangente? To start, the Tangente has been the brand’s most symbolic (and bestselling) timepiece for the past 25 years. Of course the success of the model is no accident. The classic case diameter of the Tangente is an elegant and versatile 35mm of stainless steel. Behind the sapphire crystal glass sits a white silver-plated dial which provides the perfect backdrop for the immediately recognisable typography of the brand’s iconic numerals – a nod to the stylistic influence of the Bauhaus movement. Indeed, last year Nomos released limited editions of the Tangente model to celebrate the milestone of a century since the inception of the profoundly influential design school. When a watch model achieves the status of being emblematic of the entire brand’s ethos, designers might be hesitant to meddle with a proven formula for success. Except that is simple not the Nomos way.
The Tangente Update retains the integrity of the classic model but – as the name suggests – makes a few changes. First glance will show an increase in size from 35mm to 41mm. This growth is largely accounted for by what lays behind the dial. Whereas the classic Tangente powers along thanks to the company’s in-house Alpha manual winding movement, the Tangente Update features the in-house DUW 6101 automatic movement – admirers will already be aware that Nomos’ commitment to in-house movement manufacture is a considerable factor behind their critical acclaim. The outstanding addition is undeniably the date ring. In a rather novel way, the date ring encircles the dial with the numerals 1 to 31 clearly visible and the date indicated by a striking burst of red. Subtle but brilliant.
The Tangente Update not only revises the Tangente line, it shows an ambitious and creative spirit. Nomos is no longer merely a clean and contemporary interpretation of modernist ideals. Rather, Nomos is a forward-looking, progressive brand that wants to show the watch world what is it capable of. Each new release from the company displays – to the delight of the design community – an ingenious spark of innovation. However, it is innovation executed in the most tasteful manner; strong references to the identity and history of the brand whilst making astute additions is the Nomos recipe for producing design conscious releases such as the Tangente Update. Recent success in Geneva with GPHG and in Hamburg with iF resolutely demonstrates the Berlinerblau creative studio’s knack for award winning design – thankfully, the expert watchmakers in Glashütte are capable of keeping the Nomos vision ticking.