Timepiece Chronicle

In-depth, passionate and entertaining articles that explore the stories behind great watches

Inside & Out: Nomos Minimatik Nachtblau

Inside & Out: Nomos Minimatik Nachtblau

Much like Alfred Hitchcock, I like to put myself in the frame at least one. Definitely did this on purpose....

Much like Alfred Hitchcock, I like to put myself in the frame at least one. Definitely did this on purpose....

How I got this watch: I spoke with Nomos about reviewing a timepiece and I showed interest in the Minimatik. I wore the watch for two weeks. This is not a paid review.

This is one damn good watch and you should go buy one.

That's the bite size version of this review for those late for work but desperately needed to know. Now that you're on your way, make sure to read the rest on your lunch break.

To fully appreciate the Minimatik, we need a quick primer on Nomos Glashutte's history. In twenty seven years the brand has grown from a 3 man group working in an apartment to 250 people working in Glashutte, Berlin and New York. Nomos began by modifying Swiss ETA and Peseux movements but now they produce 10 in-house calibers. Epsilon, Nomos' first in-house caliber, opened in the floodgates for innovation in 2005 and a steady stream has poured forth ever since.

The Minimatik was first released in 2015 along with the caliber that powers it, the DUW 3001. I'll talk more about the 3001 below but first, I want to focus on the design. Aristotle once said that 'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts' and seventeen centuries later, this adage still holds true for the Minimatik.

Nomos Neomatik Minimatik macro dial 3.JPG

From first glance, the Minimatik Nachtblau dial is striking. This new deep blue color, released a few months ago, is gorgeous as are the gold numbers carefully positioned around the dial. Nomos doesn't 'do' applied hour markers but when the fidelity of printing is this good, I don't mind. Each letter of the text on the dial is clear and crisp, even the miniscule 'Made in Germany' that sits between the edge of the dial and seconds register (If you'd like to learn more about what constitutes a German Made watch then click here). I wasn't a fan of the bright orange motif on the original Champagne dial when it launched but here it works wonderfully. The orange adds a splash of playful color and whilst not subtle (neon orange rarely is), it's a welcome addition.

The design of the hands however is very subtle. At first glance they look like normal stick hands but upon closer inspection a slight taper reveals itself. Then the lack of counterbalance, which could potentially throw off the dial symmetry, is noticed. The rhodium plating allows the perfect amount of light to hit the hands without comprising legibility in bright sunlight. What the hands lack in complexity, they more than make up for in beautiful simplicity.

What most people take about when they talk about the Minimatik case is the size. At 35.5mm it is one of the smallest watches made by a modern watch brand but for Nomos, small watches are the norm, not the exception. On my wrist it wore very well but if you're built like Andre the Giant then you may need to take a pass. By focusing on the size, the soft tapering of the case from bezel to caseback is often overlooked. It's a miniscule detail but it's there. Why make so much of a fuss over a taper than is barely a millimeter? Because it's just another detail included to make the water better. This taper and case design allow the lugs to seamlessly integrate into the case to create a tighter vertical profile.

In English this means it looks damn good.

Nomos Neomatik Minimatik macro dial 7.JPG

Turning the watch over reveals the sapphire crystal caseback that showcases the Caliber DUW 3001. At 28.8mm, the 3001 fills the back from edge to edge and I'm very, very glad it does. It's so refreshing to see a watch with a movement that fits! Too often turning a cheaper watch over will reveal an isolated movement floating alone amidst a sapphire and steel sea.

Nomos Neomatik Minimatik movement 7.JPG

The DUW Caliber 3001 is the product of Nomos' watchmaking experience of the last twenty seven years. At 3.2mm tall, it's exceptionally thin. So thin in fact that it's only 0.3mm taller than the hand wound Nomos Caliber Alpha. I've seen leather straps on watches than are thicker than this watch! The Caliber 3001 has stop seconds, a traditional Glashutte three-quarter plate, heat blued screws and is finishing with Glashutte ribbing and Nomos' own perlage. The escapement, Nomos' own Swing System, ticks away beneath the glass and represents a major achievement for the brand.

The escapement is the hardest part of the watch to make and most brands outsource its manufacture because of its complexity. When Swatch is no longer legally obligated to supply their competition with parts, many brands are going to struggle with finding escapements. But not Nomos. By spending millions of euros in research and design, Nomos were able to pre-emptively free themselves from the shackles of outsourcing. Shackles that many watch brands wore freely but are now constricted by.

The design of the 3001 is so straight forward from a horological perspective that Nomos say an experienced watchmaker can assemble the caliber in five minutes.

You and I won't directly enjoy the benefits of the interior foundations of the movement but we can sure as hell bask in its exterior architecture. The finishing on the watch is exquisite. I like the Glashutte three quarter plate design a lot where the jewels and blued screws are scattered between the Glashutte ribbing. 

Like the Frederique Constant Slimline Perpetual Calendar I reviewed last week, I find myself asking what is considered 'good value'? Is a $4000 time only watch good value? Well if you haven't guessed by now, my answer is yes when that watch is the Minimatik. Why? Because if any other brand made this watch they would charge double for it. So how are Nomos able to provide an in-house watch with excellent design at an affordable price? In an Quill & Pad interview, Managing Director of Nomos Uwe Ahrendt said that it was a combination of three factors: lower German wages compared to Switzerland, a shallower profit-margin and sensible marketing campaigns.

Nomos Neomatik Minimatik macro dial 2.JPG

Another factor is Nomos' focus. Producing only 10 movements is more efficient and cost effective than producing 20. By not certifying their watches as chronometers, Nomos saves the consumer a few hundred euros on a watch (Even though all Nomos watches could easily get certified). Brick-and-mortar stores will always have a place in jewelry but Nomos watches can be bought online in over 40 countries. Basically they're doing everything better than anyone else and that means for the consumer, great watches at great prices.

The Minimatik is the most approachable Nomos in terms of pleasing, friendly design. For those that were frightened by the large roman numerals of the Ludwig or the angled lugs of the Tangomat, the Minimatik is a perfect choice. The dial design is second to none and the Caliber DUW 3001 is perhaps the best value in-house movement currently on the market. 

The Nomos Minimatik, it can be worn at home whilst eating a takeaway pizza or at a black tie event nibbling on hors d'oeuvres. It won't judge either way and you'll look damn good doing both. 

For more information on the Nomos Minimatik, please visit www.Nomosglashuette.com

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