When you think “Nomos Glashütte“, what you probably have in your mind are rather small, clean watches inspired by Bauhaus (a German school of art, mixing modernism and simplicity) like the Nomos Ahoi and the Nomos Tangente. Recently, the brand gained even more affection from us with the introduction of both complicated watches (see the Nomos Zürich Weltzeit) and fully in-house movements (with the Minimatik and the new Calibre DUW 3001). What was not really expected from the brand however was some luxurious, gold, dress watches – but they did it (and they did it well) with the Lux and the Lambda. The latter comes now in an even more elegant edition: Review of the Nomos Lambda 39mm – The Luxurious Gold Nomos in a smaller size.
In the recent years, Nomos have been quite active. First, they’ve been moving to (almost) fully-in-house movements – and frankly not the worst ones, like for instance this automatic world-timer calibre that can be found in the Nomos Zürich Weltzeit (there’s even a quite cool movie that you can see here). Then, they moved to even more in-house movements, as Nomos are now producing their own balances and escapements – the “Swing System”, as reported here. Later again, they presented a new movement, this time fully in-house and with a thin but automatic architecture: the DUW 3001 movement that is cased in the brand new Nomos Minimatik. Nice innovations for a rather small brand / manufacture. However, all these movements, mechanisms, architectures are still deployed in the core-collection of the brand, meaning a 1.500 Euros to 4.000 Euros range – which we won’t complain about.
However, there’s another move from the brand that we didn’t expect: watches in gold and priced north of 10.000 Euros – clearly not the standard watches for Nomos. These watches are called the Lux and the Lambda and their prices are not justified only by the use of white or rose gold and their nicely shaped cases. They also feature a more complex, better finished, better looking movement. Not that the other calibres from Nomos are not pleasant, but those cased in the Lux and Lambda are clearly playing in a different league. With a certain success, the watches convinced and pleased clients – but the 42mm case of the Lambda was certainly a bit too big compared to the spirit of Nomos, which usually set the diameter way under 40mm, even for a gentleman’s watch. For this reason, in 2015, the Nomos Lambda collection is enlarged with a new 39mm edition and new colours, including the 18k rose gold with black / brown dial we’re about to review for you.
The Nomos Lambda 39mm
In terms of design, the lineage with the other collections from Nomos makes no doubt. Then Lambda clearly comes from the same minds – something that is even truer with this 39mm edition, closer to the standards of the brand. The overall look is clean and modern – again, the Bauhaus inspiration is noticeable. What changes with the Lambda is the flavor, just like if the recipe received an extra-spice that changes the taste a bit – but not much, just subtlety. While the previous (and classical) Nomos watches look sporty – or at least casual – with their stylized Arabic numerals and some coloured accents on the indexes or the hands, the Lambda is a more refined, dressier and even cleaner. This vision of the concept creates a dress watch. It’s not properly a ultra-formal watch (what we call here a Tuxedo watch) but calling it casual won’t be relevant anymore.
The main problem with the 42mm edition was not its size itself – 42mm is, to actual standards, an ordinary size. However, the Lambda has an extremely thin bezel – not to say that it has no bezel at all. Combine this design element with a bright dial and you obtain a watch that virtually looks larger than it is in reality (it’s a fact, white / silver dials always look larger on the wrist than dark dials). With 3mm less, the 39mm edition of the Nomos Lambda is both nicer on the wrist, it feels more comfortable and it also better sits in the collection and in the spirit of the brand. However, don’t expect this watch to look small. Again, with the (almost) absence of bezel, the watch looks larger than on paper – this is however just a visual effect, as on my rather small wrist, the Nomos Lambda 39mm felt perfectly appropriate (the lugs were not larger than my wrist).
Dial and hands
The dial is very pleasant. First comes the warm combination between the 18k rose gold case and the velvet black dial. If you pay attention, you’ll noticed its soft texture and its warm color, that can, in certain conditions, appear to be almost brown or aubergine. Then you have those 4 extremely thin and long hands, reduced to their simplest form: straight batons. Some might expect a poor legibility, which is in fact not the case. Due to the high contrast, the Nomos Lambda is very convenient on a daily basis. The 3 parts of the dial are well dispatched and time is easy to catch in a wink. The dial also feels very well balanced, first because of the symmetry of the indications and of the inscriptions, but also because all the tracks and indexes are matching with the hands style, meaning simple, straight and minimalistic. The overall look is clean, crisp and truly elegant.
Apart from the hours and minutes, the main indication of the dial is the large power reserve indicator located at 12 – that goes up to 84 hours / 3.5 days when fully wound. Again, the track and the numerals are very thin – which lets us appreciate the quality and the precision of the printing. A small second indicator classically sits at 6 – and again, it’s just a simple sub-dial with 12 indexes.
The main difference with the 42mm is in the proportions. The space between the hands is the same (simply because the 2 editions share the same movement), meaning that it’s just a matter of “compression” of the sub-dials. In fact, the small second subsidiary dial doesn’t change and keeps the same diameter (and thus the hand keeps the same length) but it is now closer from the border of the dial. What really changes is the diameter of the power reserve indicator, which is now a bit smaller – and so does the related hand. Thankfully, this doesn’t lead to a dial that feels tight or overcrowded. The 39mm edition of the Nomos Lambda preserves the attributes of the 42mm, namely a large, aerial, extremely clean dial. One next to another, it will be difficult to notice the difference between the two.
We knew Nomos for having interesting movements but not for being able to have this kind of high-end calibres. This watch and its movement are creating an undeniable link between Nomos and the German school of Watchmaking – which we usually reduce to A. Lange & Sohne and Glashutte Original. With the right dosage of personal interpretation and a tiny bit of eccentricity, Nomos brings a real German movement, with all the traditional attributes we’re used to: 3/4 plate, screwed gold chatons with blued screws, thin ribbings, screwed balanced and engraved cock bridge. This movement is, without a doubt, part of the Saxonian tradition.
However, as said, there’s some personal interpretation and some controlled eccentricity (come on, we’re talking about a German manufacture) that can be seen in several details. First, the main plate is highly curved, which changes from the strict bridges of a Lange 1, a Moritz Grossmann or a Glashutte Original. Then, this 3/4 plate is partially opened to reveal the ratchet wheel. The Glashutte ribbings are also different, with a radiant pattern that starts from the middle of the ratchet wheel. Finally, the engraving on the cock bridge is more modern and differs from the classical floral theme used in German watchmaking. It is engraved with “Mit Liebe gefertigt in Glashütte” that can be translated as “lovingly produced in Glashütte”.
Together with the visual beauty of this movement, we’ve also been impressed by the finishing and the details applied by Nomos (do keep in mind the 12k price of this watch… And it’s in gold). We have circular graining on the main plate, a beautifully polished swan-neck regulator, the hand-engraved cock-bridge, a screwed balance wheel or tiny, polished and thermally blued screws to hold in place the solid gold chatons. Classical yet beautiful are the polished bevelled angles applied on the 3/4 plate. The calibre DUW 1001 is really pleasant to the eye, even for connoisseurs – another pleasure comes from the size of this movement that properly fills the case.
Technically, it features twin mainspring barrels that ensure an 84 hour power reserve, a swan neck fine adjustment and 29 jewels (including 6 in gold chatons, which follows the gear train). While the 3/4 construction should ensure a good reliability (German movements with this architecture are known to be thick but solid), the 3.5 days power reserve will be helpful on a daily basis. If you see the Nomos Lambda 39mm as your business watch, you can leave in the box on Friday night and take it back on Monday morning and it will still be running.
First, this review of the 39mm edition set aside a doubt I had concerning the dial, that I expected to be packed. The beauty of the 42mm also comes from its aerial, opened and clean dial, something that I almost find back here in the case of the 39mm edition (It is for sure a bit more crowded but never shocking). The feeling on the wrist is however, for my small wrist, highly better. I always tend to focus on the need for a dress watch to keep a reasonable diameter, and for me, 42mm is too much, regardless of the wearer. This 39mm Nomos Lambda may lose a bit of the aerial spirit of the 42mm but on the other side, it gains in elegance once on the wrist – and that’s probably the most important.
The black / brown dial is a nice addition, as the brand mainly plays with cold colours (white dials, silvered cases, blued hands). It gives the extra-warmness required in the case of a formal (but not too formal) luxurious watch.
As for the quality of the details and the finishing (both for the case, the dial, the hands or the movement), we were impressed and we are still impressed. The movement is greatly executed and conceived and it is pleasant to use (smooth winding, long power reserve). Now that we put these qualities side to side with the price (11.800 Euros with taxes), we can say we’re in front of a pretty good deal. Considering that the notoriety of the brand is still limited (compraed to big brands like Rolex, GP or JLC), Nomos has the good idea to price this Nomos Lambda 39mm just below 12k – when the competition, with movements that are potentially not from the same level, usually is closer to 15k. Well, guess you’ve understand that we deeply enjoyed this watch and that we recommend it. www.nomos-glashuette.com.