The odd one out, the black sheep, the outlander…call it what you like, but the very square Tetra is the only square watch at Nomos (the Lux has a rounded tonneau-shaped case). To single it out even further, perfectly square watches – not counting tonneau or rectangular cases – are a rarity on the watch scene today. With its trendy Berlinerblau design studio in Berlin and its manufacture Glashütte, the Saxon bastion of watchmaking, Nomos has translated German watchmaking traditions into a more contemporary language. With countless awards for design, branding and quality, Nomos has taken the minimalism and functionality of the Bauhaus and compressed it into the miniature framework of watches to great effect. The latest quartet to join the Tetra comprises four new limited-edition models with bold red, blue, black or off-white dials in an XL case size with an extra-thin automatic calibre.
In 1992, Nomos launched its inaugural collection comprised of four models: the Orion, Ludwig, Tangente and Tetra. Fast-forward thirty years, and the four original models, which are still going strong, offer a reassuring sign that the minimalist approach is less tiring over time than overloaded baroque dials.
The Tetra is a dress watch, and the most complicated feature across the family is the incorporation of a power reserve indicator on one model; the rest are by and large straightforward central hour and minute models with small seconds at 6 o’clock.
Conceived initially as a manual-winding watch and powered by the brand’s first Alpha calibre, in 2015, the Tetra was fitted with the in-house calibre DUW 300 (neomatik). With a height of just 3.2mm, this ultra-thin movement brought an extra degree of practicality and modernity to the Tetra. Still available with manual-winding movements in 29.5mm and 27.5mm cases, the Tetra neomatik is the automatic version and comes in a larger case size of 33 x 33mm with a lug-to-lug distance of 45.3mm and a case height of 7.3mm. Although the smaller case sizes have appeared in a host of delicate pastel colours, the larger Tetra neomatik has stuck to more conventional blue and silver dials.
The edgy watch from Nomos, with four equal sides and four equal angles of 90 degrees, is brazenly square. Taking a page out of the elegant, streamlined designs of Art Deco, the stylish lugs are double-stepped. If you go to the brand’s webpage, you can see how the watch slips effortlessly under the model’s cuff.
Although the off-white dial is probably not what most of us would consider a bold colour, it is a refreshing addition to the Tetra neomatik 39 lineup. With its slightly beige tonality, some might describe it as an eggshell colour. Whichever way, it is much warmer than the silvery dials in the current collection. The red, blue and black dials are bold, very bold indeed. The brand explains that the colour on the dial is “applied using a technique with an effect comparable to that of enamel: incoming light is not absorbed by the opaque surfaces but reflected”. Compared to the existing midnight blue dial, the new blue dial is much brighter and more intense and, at times, even looks purple. Something similar happens with the red dial that glows with an intense dark orange colour in certain light conditions.
The distinctive typography used on the inscriptions and the numerals and markers is an integral component of the Nomos design philosophy. Slender Arabic numerals at 12, 2, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock are accompanied by thin baton markers and a peripheral minutes track that slants downwards to emphasise the squareness of the dial.
The darker coloured dials use beige indications, while the off-white dial uses blue for contrast. All four models feature thin baton hands with no trace of lume and a golden dot at 6 o’clock to match the golden neomatik inscription at noon. Slightly recessed, the small seconds counter at 6 o’clock uses smaller baton markers and red hands on the white and black models and silver on the red and blue.
Similar to earlier models of the Tetra neomatik 30, the strap accompanying the watches is made of thick brown Horween shell cordovan leather. A quick aside, shell cordovan leather is an expensive and extremely hardwearing lustrous, thick leather that will never crack. The differentiating factor of thick shell cordovan leather is that it is taken from the hindquarters or rump of a horse. Given the small area of horsehide from which this special leather is extracted (and since we don’t tend to eat much horsemeat these days), the price is much higher than regular cowhide. Following a long and complex vegetable tanning process undertaken by Horween Leather Company in the US, the shell cordovan leather makes its way to upmarket shoemakers, luggage makers, NFL footballs and NBA basketballs, and somewhere in between, watchmakers.
Calibre DUW 3001
The caseback, which is also angled on the four sides, has a round sapphire crystal to view the in-house neomatik DUW 3001 calibre. With a height of just 3.2mm, this extra-thin automatic movement is fitted with the Nomos swing system. A proprietary escapement launched in 2014 with a tempered blue balance spring, the swing system allowed Nomos to become fully independent. The openworked bidirectional winding rotor captures energy from the wrist for a 43-hour power reserve and is decorated with characteristic Glashütte ribbing. This same decorative technique is used on the three-quarter plate while the mainplate features Nomos perlage.
Availability and Price
The Nomos Tetra neomatik 39 – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte is limited to 175 pieces in each colour, and is now available. The price is EUR 3,060. For more information and online orders, please visit nomos-glashuette.com.