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Nomos Tangente Wempe Limited Edition

Experience Review

Part I

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by Roger Tsai

© September 2004

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Ever since the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany, the German watchmaking industry, notably the town of Glashütte within the lower Saxony region, has attracted the attention of watch collectors worldwide with the establishment of brands such as A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original that offered innovative timepieces vis a vis their Swiss counterparts during the past decade. Nomos, the Greek word for regularity and order and the name of the company founded in 1990 by entrepreneur Roland Schwertner, was the first privately-owned watch company to restart watch production in Glashütte.  Despite being located on the same street (Altenberger Straße) as Lange and GO, Nomos chose a very different path than its neighbors. Instead of competing with high-end Swiss brands by developing in-house designed movements,  Nomos decided to utilize  watch resources from Switzerland by choosing Peseux 7001 from ETA as the ébauche for their movements in order to create affordable timepieces available to the general public. 

Tangente, the first model presented by Nomos in the early 1990s, has become an instant design classic to this day. Designed by the German graphics designer Susanne Gunther who got her inspiration through the Bauhaus ideas, the Tangente in my humble opinion became Nomos' brand icon as the Lange 1 for Lange. Since then, through the help of German high-end watch retailers such as Wempe, Nomos slowly but progressively expanded its name throughout Germany and eventually became known among many watch enthusiasts worldwide today. 

Wempe, a Germany-based high-end watch and jewelry retailer with more than 20 stores in 6 countries, celebrated its jubilee anniversary in 2003. Nomos was chosen along with 7 other watch brands to create Wempe's anniversary collection to commemorate this achievement. The Nomos Wempe limited edition was a steel Tangente featuring a 3/4 plate movement with the coat-of-arms or symbol of each city Wempe has a store and the city name printed on the movement. 125 watches was made for each city and an additional 125 gold Tangente was created for the city of Hamburg where Wempe's headquarter is located. The following is the list of the cities and their respective coat-of-arms or symbols in the case a coat-of-arms does not exist for that particular city. 

I was always attracted by the Tangente but unfortunately the 3/4 plate movement was reserved only for the precious metal Nomos models at that time, so upon hearing the news about this particular model I contacted the Wempe store in NYC immediately. Apparently the ones for New York were already sold out, but they still have some others in stock from other cities. So after months of waiting, I finally received the watch pictured above. 

Case, crystal, and crown

The case, measured 35mm in diameter, is made out of 316L stainless steel and consisted of 3 parts, the upper bezel, case-band, and the case back with sapphire see-through back. The case-band along with the lugs are crafted from one single piece of steel to ensure its durability. The case back is engraved "EDELSTAHL GESCHUTZTES MODELL TANGENTE JUBILAUMSUHR 125 JAHRE WEMPE" as well as the individual number out of 125 pieces. The overall case design resembles very closely with some of the early Lange wristwatches from the 30s. Even though the case is water resistant to 30 meters, I am not brave enough to let it be close to anywhere with water. 

Unlike many other watches I own with slightly domed crystals, Nomos chooses a flat crystal to maintain the minimal look of the watch. I am not sure whether the crystal comes with anti-reflective coating on either side of the crystal but I was able to read the watch easily under many different light conditions. 

The crown of the Nomos Tangente is surprisingly big given its diameter. One of the advantages of a big crown for a hand wind watch is the ease of winding, especially when this has to be performed on a daily basis. As shown from the photo above, the word "Nomos" is engraved on the crown. Since the crown is not screwed-down, this is precisely the reason why I try to avoid all contacts with water when I am wearing this watch. 

Dial and hands

Quite different from the publicity photo above which the watch appeared to be a white dial, the color of the dial is actually more closely to silvered white. The dial, presumably made out of brass, is sand-blasted first in order to achieve a matte finish and then a galvanizing process is applied to give its color. This has to be one of the most balanced dials I have ever seen, very simple and understated. Besides the name and the location of the company, nothing extra is being printed on the dial, which I like a lot. The "Made in Germany" words on the bottom of the dial  was a new practice recently adopted by Nomos as a way for people to easily identify the German originality of their watches. Apparently these are the only English words being seen on the watch itself while everything else was written in German. 

In the off-center subsidiary second dial, a circular pattern is being applied to distinguish itself from the rest of the dial. It is quite a nice contrast in my opinion, very subtle design indeed. 

I think the hands of this watch deserve some attention. Instead of simply purchasing them from an outside supplier, Nomos blued these polished baton steel hands in-house by using the traditional way like the following photo suggests. 

As a result, what one sees on the dial are these uniformly-blued hands that are rich in color and natural in appearance. It is nothing fancy but  they reflected the very essence of German watchmaking - all the little details that are pleasant to one's eyes and will proved to be everlasting for the time to come.

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Copyright September 2004 - Roger Tsai and ThePuristS.com - all rights reserved

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