A relatively young brand on the scene, Nomos is a bit of an anomaly in the industry. The independent German brand offers unique and distinctive designs with in-house movements (hand-wound and automatic), yet prices are always accessible. Compared to German counterparts like A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original, prices are almost shockingly good and the Club Campus line leads the way in value. Known for a youthful aesthetic and flashy colours, the collection recently added Deep Pink and Blue Purple dials, joining a bright orange model among many others. This line arguably represents the best “entry-level” European mechanical watches that even seasoned collectors can appreciate.
The Nomos Club Campus
Nomos is a relatively young watchmaker founded by Roland Schwertner in 1990. Watches are designed in Berlin and manufactured in Glashütte, and all have in-house calibres (since 2005). In addition, the brand introduced its own escapement in 2014, the swing system, which freed Nomos from reliance on Swiss manufacturers. A quick note, however, is that the Club Campus watches (launched in 2017) use the oldest in-house movement from Nomos, the 2005 Alpha. This predates the swing system, but with prices just over EUR 1,000, I’m certainly not complaining.
There are other models within the broader Club collection, but all Club Campus watches are time-only with California dials. This means that the top half has Arabic numerals, while the bottom sports Roman numerals. Most use the hand-wound Alpha, but a couple of newer (Neomatik) models have the DUW 3001 automatic with the swing system. Club Campus models have always had a youthful vibe with colourful dials and accents. Even conservative ones like the Absolute Grey with a muted grey dial have indices with bright orange outlines and orange Arabic numerals on the seconds track. Some dials are more subtle than others, but there are always contrasting colours. The latest Deep Pink and Blue Purple watches join Future Orange as the brightest models, but all have a fun, unisex appeal with serious horological street cred.
Two eye-popping dials
The Deep Pink dial is definitely the louder of the two, matching the existing Future Orange in brightness. The Blue Purple is more subdued, having an almost greyish blue hue in some lighting. Even with the purple toned down, it’s perfect for those looking for something a little different. It’s also more appropriate for formal occasions and won’t scream for attention. There’s no denying the fun factor with the bright ones, however, and sometimes you just have to loosen up a bit.
You can find loud, youthful colours from other brands (like Swatch), but the combination of brightness and serious watchmaking is rare, especially with prices suitable for the target market (unlike Moser, for example). Although the new dials stand out, most Club Campus designs have contrasting accents on more conventional dials, reminding me a bit of what London-based Farer does. Special editions also highlight this with models like the Club Campus Amsterdam Limited Edition by Ace Jewelers with hot red indices on a black dial (and a matching red seconds hand over a silver sub-dial).
The California dials have Arabic numerals at the top – 10, 12 and 2 – and Roman numerals at the bottom – VIII and IV. The recessed seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock blocks what would’ve been VI. The indices are coated with white Super-LumiNova (blue glow) and outlined in a greenish hue on the purple dial and bluish hue on the pink dial. The sub-dial seconds hand is Neon Orange on both. The rhodium-plated, sword-style hour and minute hands have Super-LumiNova inserts and contrast well against both dials. Legibility is certainly not an issue with this pair. Interestingly, the purple dial has orange Arabic numerals on the outer seconds track, but the pink dial’s track remains white throughout.
Unisex case sizes
Pink and purple are fun colours for sure and will appeal to women as well as men. Two case diameters, 36mm and 38.5mm, have unisex dimensions that anyone can wear (particularly the former). Case heights are 8.2mm and 8.5mm, respectively (lug-to-lug is 47.5 and 48.9mm). They also have a nice retro vibe in a world of 40mm+ cases (and I certainly appreciate that). Automatic Campus models have 37mm and 39.5mm options, but the hand-wound watches have held their ground with 36mm and 38.5mm. Both stainless steel cases are all polished with a substantial bezel and solid case back.
An exhibition back would’ve been cool, especially with the decorated in-house calibre, but the solid steel keeps prices down. Also, Nomos offers free engraving on the back – up to four lines of 22 characters each. I suspect younger buyers will prefer this option over an exhibition window, especially if given as a gift. 20mm strap options include velour leather in dark anthracite for the Blue Purple model and light grey for the Deep Pink, and steel bracelets are available at an additional cost. A domed sapphire crystal protects the dial and water resistance is rated at 100 metres.
NOMOS ALPHA CALIBRE
The heart of the Nomos Club Campus models is the Alpha calibre, the brand’s first in-house movement that replaced the ETA/Peseux 7001. It’s hand-wound with 17 jewels, a beat rate of 21,600vph (3Hz) and a 43-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes and hacking small seconds at 6 o’clock. Although concealed behind the case back, it’s well finished with blued screws, Côtes de Genève and perlage. That doesn’t go to waste as it’s used in other models like the Orion Anthracite with an exhibition case back (and limited editions like the Tangente 38 Amsterdam x Ace Jewelers). Interestingly, there’s a newer Alpha 2 calibre with a modified fourth wheel with a smaller staff, used for a small handful of models with hours and minutes hands only.
The Nomos Club Campus collection has always impressed me. The watches are fun and affordable, but still serious enough for a wide audience with a mature in-house movement. Coupled with multiple unisex case diameters, there’s a lot to like. Few brands (outside of Asia) can match this dynamic of style, in-house calibres and price. Titoni is one that comes to mind. The new pink and purple dials are eye-catching and really match the Club Campus vibe, although they admittedly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
The Deep Pink is the boldest model yet and makes a statement, and it’s a shame it wasn’t around in the 1980s for a Miami Vice cameo. The Blue Purple will likely have a more universal appeal with the muted tone that can dress up or down. If you’re looking for a well-sized European watch with an in-house calibre that won’t break the bank, the Nomos Club Campus line should be at the top of your list.
Availability & Price
The 36mm model retails for EUR 1,100 and the 38.5mm model retails for EUR 1,200, which are incredible values. Both models in both sizes are available now and aren’t limited. For more information and to make a purchase, please visit nomos-glashuette.com.