Modest and Sophisticated: Nomos Club Meeting at Bulang and Sons

by Daniel Giebel - Sep 15 2017

At Bulang and Sons, we offer “Style for Watch Lovers”. This really means pretty much all watch lovers, from the Rolex high rollers to fans of the most obscure timepieces. Somewhere in the middle between these extremes, you might find the members of the Nomos Club. As collectors of Nomos Glashuette, one of Germany’s finest modern watch brands, they have great timepieces to show – and the stories to match. Here’s what went down when the Nomos Club spent a relaxed afternoon at the Bulang and Sons headquarters.

The Nomos Club was established in 2006 when its founders Joerg and Franz discovered the brand in its early stages with just a few employees and even fewer watch models: “It occurred to us – both on our own, with Franz living near Stuttgart and me in Duesseldorf – that there were several special editions out but there was no overview”, remembers Joerg. That’s how the encyclopaedic part of the website grew steadily, while on the other side more and more people joined the conversation about the brand and its watches.

Nomos Connects The People

More than ten years later the Nomos Club is not only a vibrant online community but also regularly meets up in the real world, as Joerg explains: “We come together at least once a year in Glashuette at the official invitation of Nomos. There is our annual “Weisswurst feast” at the Munich Time event, which draws many of us because not only does Nomos have a booth there but also many other brands that are popular with our members. And then there are meetings like this one here at the Bulang and Sons headquarters.”

About ten forum members have made their way to the Bulang and Sons Lounge on this sunny day – people from all walks of life, unified by their passion for a German watch brand that is known for its humble and sober designs. While some are enjoying the views from the office and the freshly brewed coffee, others are selecting and comparing watch straps or spy on Bernhard taking photos of the assembled Nomos rarities in his studio. The mood is as unhurried as the jazz playing in the background and there is no sense of “mine is bigger”.

Why Nomos?!

This is emphasized when various members talk about how they came across Nomos in the first place. For Ewa, who has been an active part of the forum since 2014, it all started when she surprised her mother with a new fitted kitchen: “In return, she wanted to gift me a piece of jewellery, but I’m not into that at all. In the end, we agreed upon a watch, and it became a sky blue Nomos Orion which I had first spotted in the forum. After I got the watch, I quickly became a member and that marked the start for me collecting Nomos.”

Being in their 60s and 80s, Sabine and her husband might be the veterans in the round but their warm spirit and enthusiasm for the topic at hand is infectiuous: “We collect all kinds of clocks and watches” says Sabine, “it just happened like that. I’ve had a soft spot for timepieces since my childhood. My husband is a watchmaker and even though he’s long retired, he sits in his professional shop every day for up to six hours, performing work on watches for the forum members and other friends.”

As for the “Why”, all are quick to praise the brand for its modest, yet sophisticated design: “It is straightforward and beautiful. I’ve always been into what is known as the Bauhaus aesthetic – which they won’t like at Nomos, since they come from the Werkbund tradition, which is kind of in the same line though” says Joerg and concludes: “In the end, it’s about simple design. Products that are functional and beautiful. Just like an Omega Speedmaster – it’s black and white and steel, it has a purity that I find exciting.”

Location, Location

A big part of Nomos Glashuette’s appeal obviously lies in its German origins. Joerg praises the rare possibility to watch a brand grow and evolve at close range, and how the club has been in touch: “We know the company’s head and have been invited to their headquarters in Glashuette. In the beginning, they even sometimes directly reacted to what was talked about in the forum. Nowaydays, not so much. But even though the company has grown so much, there is still an exchange, and they still read what’s being written on our site.”

While the design aspect might be the most important for the present collectors, Nomos’ approach to the clockwork and other technical details are not to be dismissed. Like many other brands, the company used ready-to-go clockworks from the Swiss manufacturer ETA right from the start of the brand in 1992 up until 2005. Ever since then, the automatic clockworks and the rest of the watches are made and assembled in the town of Glashuette, which has been a traditional site for German watchmaking since 1845.

Don’t Sweat the Technique

And it definitely shows – not least because many Nomos models nowadays have a transparent glass caseback. In Joerg’s experience, this only adds to the appeal of the watches: “The dials are elegant and pure, but whenever someone inquires about the watch, I simply take it off and show them the back, and upon seeing the movement and the trademark delicate sunburst decoration, the exceptional quality and the value of the whole watch become evident within an instant. No further explanations necessary!”

The clever mix of traditional craftsmanship and timeless design has long made the German brand popular on an international scale. Like many other German politicians, the foreign minister naturally sports a Nomos, carrying the Glashuette values into the world. Meanwhile, the mostly German-speaking community of the Nomos Club has already attracted visitors from the Netherlands, from the UK or even as far as Australia or Mexico. And then there’s the Japanese, who are known to be avid admirers of German products.

Big in Japan

Japan has seen its fair share of official Nomos special editions, and those watches are among the most desirable ones for the club members as well. Ewa even traveled to Tokyo once, hoping to find some these rare timepieces – but had to discover that they are very hard to find even in a city that is known for its crazy shopping opportunities. At last, she found some of the colourful Tangente editions online: “With some help from the forum I could finally get them. But it was always a thrill until I held them in my hand at last.”

Among these editions, there is also the famed “Urushi” model which was made using a traditional Japanese technique that can be traced back some 6000 years: A special varnish with tiny metal pigments is applied by hand. This takes time and can only be done under absolutely dust-free conditions, at high humidity and at a temperature of 30° Celsius – which is why urushi manufactures are often located in faraway mountain regions.

The Japanese special editions are for sale. Please send us an Email so we can forward them to the seller.

Special Editions from a Dedicated Brand

The more we talk, the more it becomes apparent that special editions play an important role for the club members. A good example might be a pair of a dark and a light Tangomat watches that were released to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the German jeweller Oeding und Erdel: “Those are in such high demand that people in our forum would absolutely pay double or triple the original price without hesitation. But there were only so many of these watches – and naturally, they sold out very quickly.” Joerg can report.

He also highlights the charity aspect that has become an integral part of many of these editions from Nomos: “There is an edition that’s a bit of an open secret among Nomos enthusiasts and has been done a few times now to support the Dresden International School. For every watch sold, Nomos donates a big share of the retail price to the school and its various projects. The third limited edition is already out, and many in our circle are up to purchase the watch for its normal price, thus funding the charity and the school.”

Straps Make The Watch

But as the Nomos Club has come to the offices today not only to meet up and chat, but also to discover the goods on offer, the Bulang and Sons showroom is soon bustling.  Joerg sums it up well: “Clothes make the man, and straps make the watch. Nomos has got great shell cordovan, suede or even textile wristbands. They know how to make a watch shine with a great strap. But the original Nomos design is already inspired by a 50s watch from Lange and Soehne, and that’s why these vintage style wristbands from Bulang and Sons make a great fit. Plus all the other accessories in the B&S portfolio – if you’re a collector, sooner or later you get to the point where you need pouches and the like”.

Looking over a table full of straps and watches, Joerg continues: “There are square-shaped Nomos models, and in my experience, those are difficult to be outfitted with a new strap – I’d say they should be left as they are. But with the round ones, pretty much everything is possible. Sure, with colourful dials one should be careful, as it can become too much very quickly” he says, holding up his new favorite B&S strap – the Refined Dark Grey Yellow Suede Strap from the new Nordic Collection – next to a clean Tangente.

Winding down from a long and interesting afternoon, everybody is in high spirits and looking forward to the planned dinner in the evening. As we’re leaving the office, the conversation about Nomos in particular and watches in general goes on. Just as it should.