For the newbie connoisseur, and now for the heavyweight collector, Germany’s Nomos is a very serious contender
If you’re unaware of this, then take note; and if you’ve heard it before, it’s worth hearing again: Nomos, the independent German firm based in Saxony’s watchmaking mecca, the village of Glashutte, makes probably the best-value mechanical watches on the planet. It produces watches in the £1,000-£3,000 range that contain its own proprietary movements, something that’s the mark of a top-flight, self-reliant watch brand but normally moves you into much higher price brackets. Its watches are relatively small, pared back in the Bauhaus way, but full of quirky character. And completely unexpectedly, it’s just stepped up to play with the big boys.
It’s launched two new watches, the Lambda and the Lux, that display the complexity and finishing of true haute horological watchmaking, and the accompanying prices, though still retaining that sense of minimalist fun and cool. The Lambda (£12,800 in white gold, £11,800 in rose) is a large round piece with superfine dial features dominated by an 85-hour power reserve display; while the Lux (£13,800) is a more idiosyncratic barrel-shaped piece with a fabulously contoured case, that comes in both all-white dial and one with baby-blue borders – perfect for the Riviera next summer.
The movement, meanwhile – essentially the same mechanism in two different shapes – is both gorgeously realized in the high Glashutte style (all those gleaming red rubies in gold settings, and the hand-engraved balance arm) and is clever too, using a differential to even out power from two mainsprings, enabling longer and more stable timekeeping.
But what’s the sell here? Well, they still give you a fair amount of watch for the money, even if it’s much more money. While core-range Nomos is perfect for that first step into serious watch-buying, the collector with a few significant pieces under his belt from well-known brands should be looking to branch out into more unorthodox fare. After all, with only 300 models across the two ranges due to appear in the next year, you’re unlikely to encounter a chum with the same watch. You’ll find them (occasionally, one imagines, given the scarcity) at Mappin & Webb on Fenchurch Street, Nomos’s single City stockist. nomos.com
3 MECHANICAL WATCHES FOR UNDER £1,000
Englishman Ward set up his brand a few years ago, cutting his costs by selling his Swiss-made watches directly online. A £350 starting point for an elegant auto is hard to beat.
Key watch: C5 Malvern Automatic
Mk II, £350
Once America’s greatest watch company, but relocated to Switzerland 40 years ago and now part of Swatch Group, Hamilton’s large range of entry-level mechanicals is varied in good ways and bad, but there are gems to be found.
Key watch: Intra Matic, £680.
An old name that now sells online, based in Germany but with watches using Swiss movements. The website’s not pretty, but the retro-themed watches, both automatics and handwounds, really are.
Key watch: Partitio 2801 handwound, €680 (£575)