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NOMOS Glashütte Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte
The NOMOS Glashütte Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte marks the anniversary of watchmaking arriving in the charming town of Glashütte, close to the Ore Mountains. The model is housed in a 40.5mm stainless steel case and encompasses the brand’s highest specification of finishing.
In 2013, I attended SalonQP, a watch exhibition in London. As usual, I visited the NOMOS exhibition stand eager to see the firm’s latest timepieces. At this point, I thought I fully understood what the brand stood for, namely, Manufacture movements, styling in the traditions of both the Deutscher Werkbund and Bauhaus, as well as keen pricing. However, I was unprepared for the surprise awaiting me. The German marque unveiled two gold timepieces, the Lambda and the Lux. Up to this point, NOMOS had never offered gold watches and, to be honest, I never thought it would.
The inaugural Lux was housed in a tonneau-shaped case made of white gold with a choice of white or two-tone dial. The watch featured a hand-wound movement, encompassing high-end finishing typical of a Haute Horlogerie creation. Indeed, a hand-engraved balance cock, perlage, a Glashütte three-quarter plate with fine sunbeam polishing, gold chatons and thermally blued screws were all in evidence. The specification proved a mouthwatering proposition.
However, while I liked the Lux, the Lambda was my preferred model. Its white silver-plated dial, 42mm case formed of 18-carat rose gold and its exquisite movement exuded a seductive allure. There was a white gold case option too. Similar to the Lux, the same peerless finishing was in evidence. There were other delightful details such as the screwed balance wheel and swan neck fine adjustment. I remember placing the watch upon my wrist and being instantly smitten.
Sadly, as a father of two, my horological acquisitiveness is inhibited by a distinct lack of financial means. Over subsequent years, I have visited NOMOS’s Berlin offices and tried on new variants of the Lux and Lambda models, each encompassing different hues. It sounds like a masochistic form of torture, but I can’t resist trying on the Lambda whenever an opportunity presents itself.
Now, the brand has provided hope for fiscally challenged fathers who crave the Lambda’s high-end finishing and prepossessing appearance. Eager to mark ‘175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte’, the German firm has unveiled a new stainless steel version of the Lambda with a more accessible price tag. This apparent altruism brings Haute Horlogerie within the grasp of a wider audience. Moreover, an increasing number of purists drawn to the practicality of a stainless steel case, now have another ownership proposition to consider; a beautifully crafted watch from Saxony.
Image: Copyright: NOMOS Glashütte
A sample of this new anniversary edition recently arrived at my home allowing me, once again, to spend a few days sampling German watchmaking first hand.
Image: Copyright: NOMOS Glashütte
The NOMOS Glashütte Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte is available in three dial variants: enamel white, enamel black and enamel blue. My press loan featured the latter dial option. As most horophiles will know, blue dials are now a staple of the watch industry. It is therefore not surprising that NOMOS offers this hue within its product portfolio, however, the brand’s latest enamel blue dial offering is quite distinctive. It exhibits a myriad of shades when viewed from a variety of angles and in different light conditions. Personally, I found it captivating witnessing the dial transition from light and mid tones, to dark cerulean hues. It is only with prolonged inspection that the subtle nuances of the dial can be fully appreciated.
Image: Copyright: NOMOS Glashütte
In terms of readability, the indications convey information with notable efficiency. The rhodium-plated hour and minute hand have an understated quality, indicating the prevailing time clearly and without unnecessary flamboyance. A crisp minute track frames the dial and collaborates with the minute hand, aiding read-off. A small seconds display is positioned above 6 o’clock, again using a lithe, silver-coloured hand to express meaning.
The pièce de résistance of the dial is the power-reserve indicator. It has an extraordinary presence, occupying a significant proportion of the upper dial area. Its arcing scale articulates the status of the mainsprings clearly but with remarkable style. In fact, style is omnipresent.
At 3:30, the power reserve of 84 hours is stated on the dial in German text, while opposite, at 8:30, the luxury marque’s nomenclature is presented in a clearly defined font.
Those readers with a penchant for NOMOS are probably already aware that the inaugural versions of Lambda were housed in a 42mm case. Thereafter, the German company released a smaller option measuring 39mm. Both of these models are still available in a choice of white or rose gold. However, in this instance, the brand has opted for a third way, a 40.5mm stainless steel case.
Usually, I favour a larger case, but not in this instance. In common with other NOMOS models I have worn, the NOMOS Glashütte Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte feels larger than its stated diameter. I suspect that one reason for this is the long, slender lugs. Having worn the watch over several days, I can attest that it fit my wrist comfortably and looked optimally sized for my physique.
NOMOS has chosen to present each facet of the case in a highly polished form. On some watches this can appear a little excessive and, sometimes, gauche. It is for this reason many firms will juxtapose polished metal with satin brushed surfaces, tempering both elements. However, the gleaming brightwork found on this steel Lambda looks appropriate, tasteful and compatible with other elements of the watch.
The upper sapphire crystal is slightly curved, enriching the overall aesthetic appearance of the timepiece.
Image: Copyright: NOMOS Glashütte
A reoccurring theme on this watch is svelteness. Just in the way the hands are slender, the bezel is narrow, affording more room for the dial to shine. Likewise, the height of the watch is a very modest 8.9mm, heightening wearer comfort.
While the crown is unobtrusive it is slightly spaced away from the caseband, allowing easy manipulation. Consistent with many NOMOS models, this limited-edition Lambda is presented on a ‘Horween Genuine Shell Codovan black’ strap with a stainless steel pin buckle.
The reverse of the watch is fitted with a large pane of sapphire crystal, affording sight of the in-house Calibre DUW 1001. An inscription is engraved on the caseback, ‘Limited Edition Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte’.
Whilst the watch has been in my care, I have enjoyed my morning winding ritual. It provides a few quiet moments to forget the hubbub of daily life and interact with the Lambda’s twin mainsprings. An automatic watch doesn’t provide this cathartic escape.
Nevertheless, while I chose to wind the watch daily, the Lambda is equipped with two barrels, delivering an impressive power reserve of 84 hours. Put simply, if you did forget to wind the watch for a day or two, your beloved Lambda would keep ticking away. Despite the presence of two barrels, the movement has a shallow height of just 3.6mm, contributing to the model’s overall slenderness.
While NOMOS makes incredibly well made watches, the Lambda is positioned on a higher plane. Indeed, the finishing is worthy of mention in the same breath as Haute Horlogerie’s old guard. The three-quarter plate is a regional speciality. When contrasted with conventional movements equipped with numerous separate bridges, a three-quarter plate provides superior stability. In this instance, the three-quarter plate has received further adornment, including bevelled edges, polished by hand, and NOMOS sunburst decoration, radiating from the ratchet wheel.
The mainplate, visible adjacent the balance cock, is embellished with perlage, while the balance cock itself is hand engraved with an inscription, ‘Mit Liebe in Glashütte gefertigt’ (Lovingly produced in Glashütte).
NOMOS has clearly thought about the desires of purists, equipping the Calibre DUW 1001 with a highly desirable screwed balance. The rate is adjusted by altering the effective length of the hairspring. However, in this instance, the movement features a swan neck regulator, allowing a watchmaker to precisely fine tune the rate, delivering chronometer-standards of precision.
The movement features 29 jewels, however, six are housed in polished and screwed gold chatons. During the era when Ferdinand Adolph Lange arrived in Glashütte and established his Manufactory in 1845, genuine rubies were widely used in watchmaking. The problem was if the hole wasn’t quite big enough or the stone was irregular in shape, it could easily break when being fitted. Therefore, the hole was made slightly larger and lined with gold (chaton). By using gold, which is soft, the noble metal would accommodate the ruby without it breaking.
Today, synthetic rubies are used and the holes in the three-quarter plate can be drilled very precisely, obviating the need for gold chatons. However, on the finest examples of modern-day watchmaking, chatons are still used. They are a sign of quality and enhance the visual allure of the movement. In the case of the Lambda, the specification is enhanced further by using two or three thermally blued screws to hold the chaton in position. Indeed, throughout the movement, thermally blued screws abound. These screws should not be confused with chemically blued screws sometimes seen on cheaper watches.
The NOMOS Glashütte Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte is a paragon of tasteful restraint. It does not subscribe to conspicuous dimensions, numerous gems and flamboyant tones. Indeed, its character is confident, rich in virtue, but seemly and elegant.
The Lambda conveys with the wearer with remarkable efficiency. The hours, minutes and small seconds employ fine hands, imparting time in a highly intelligible form. However, the clear and distinctive power-reserve indicator is, without doubt, one of my favourite aspects of the watch.
Appraising the case, nothing is excessive. The case diameter and height seem perfectly suited to my wrist as if they were made to measure. Slenderness is a reoccurring theme whether it’s the hands on the dial or the fine profile of the lugs.
The pinnacle of Lambda ownership is the Calibre DUW 1001. The specification of this movement encompasses technical merit as well as hand craftsmanship. Indeed, the screwed balance, swan neck regulator, twin barrels and prodigious power reserve all make compelling arguments for selection. However, beyond its functional attributes, the movement is also pleasing to the eye with numerous examples of fine finishing.
In 1845, when Ferdinand Adolph Lange arrived in Glashütte and established his Manufactory, he was the first watchmaker to base his business in the town. Thereafter, other companies chose to make Glashütte their home, including NOMOS. Today, this picturesque town in Saxony is the epicentre of fine German watchmaking.
NOMOS may not be the oldest watch brand in existence, however, what the NOMOS Glashütte Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte demonstrates is that this firm makes watches comparable with the best Germany and Switzerland have to offer. Most of all, despite its high-end specification, this Lambda is within the financial grasp of many people, including cash-strapped dutiful fathers.
- Model: NOMOS Glashütte Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte
- Reference: 960.S3
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 40.5mm; height 8.9mm; water resistance 3ATM (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front; exhibition case back.
- Functions: hours; minutes; small seconds; power-reserve indicator
- Movement: Calibre DUW 1001; hand-wound movement; 29 jewels; 6 screwed gold chatons; power reserve up to 84 hours.
- Strap: Black strap made from Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan, paired with a stainless steel pin buckle
- Price: £5800 (RRP as at 6.10.2020)