Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An Interview with NOMOS around The Metro and Calibre DUW4401

The NOMOS Metro is putting the Glashütte based manufacture in the forefront of in-house developed movements.

With ETA announcing that they will reduce supply to non-Swatch brands, many watch houses have been eagerly developing their own movements. Nomos has been exceptional in this respect having started out with their Alpha movements. Every single NOMOS timepiece is powered by an in-house produced movement and, since 2005, the company has developed ten proprietary calibers. Impressive for a company with such a short history in the world of watchmaking.

So I got my hands on the NOMOS Metro earlier on this year and I have to say that I like the timepiece a lot. Having worn the watch, I wrote to the good folks at NOMOS and made some enquiries. The following are their response.

1. What is the Swing System?

The NOMOS swing system is our proprietary escapement—that is, the complex system of balance, balance spring, and pallet that comprises the heart of every mechanical movement. As the decisive part of every watch movement, the escapement significantly determines the robustness and durability of a watch.

After seven years of research and development in cooperation with the Technical University of Dresden and the Fraunhofer Institute, we now have our own in-house version. Until now, it was quite impossible for small watchmaking companies to produce their own escapement as it was too difficult, too complicated, and too expensive. The only option was to craft parts by hand at immense cost—ten or one hundred pieces, but not affordable series production. This is why nearly all brands source their systems from the same few specialized producers in Switzerland. After all, the pallet, escape wheel, and balance (and the other tiny parts that also belong to the swing system) do not only have to be perfect in themselves, exact down to the mu, but also an extremely well functioning team.

When we first presented the NOMOS swing system in DUW 4401 at Baselworld 2014, it caused a storm in the media—and with customers alike. (And we can see why!)

2. And why is it called the "Swing System“

The name of this part refers to how this caliber part moves—namely, with swing! The pallet moves back and forth, releasing a minute amount of energy each time.

3. How do you number your Calibre DUW 4401

Because our extremely high levels of in-house production in Glashütte are anything other than ordinary in the watchmaking industry, we also have a new name: “NOMOS Glashütte Deutsche Uhrenwerke” or DUW, for short. This new name underlines our ability to produce fine calibers in-house—and ensures the very best quality, made in Glashütte, Germany. NOMOS Glashütte Deutsche Uhrenwerke emphasizes the in-house movement production of NOMOS in Glashütte.

4. Was the calibre developed ground up i.e. started totally new?

NOMOS Glashütte has its own research and development department dedicated to bringing new innovations and improvements to our calibers. It was the NOMOS R&D department, for example, that developed our own gear wheel train—and the NOMOS swing system, of course. DUW 4401 is the start of a new series of calibers from NOMOS Glashütte, because movements featuring our proprietary escapement boast an incredibly high level of accuracy, which is comparable with chronometer standards.

5. Why novel way of changing date? I find it rather inconvenient to change date.

We still think that it is fairly simple to change the date on Metro. The NOMOS rapid set date function allows you to set the date by winding the hour hand between eight and one o’clock. Start by simply setting the watch to one o’clock the next day, which will change the date. Then wind the hands anticlockwise to around eight thirty in the evening. Now you can wind clockwise to one o’clock, which will change the date again. When you are setting the time afterwards, please check whether you are setting it to ten o’clock in the evening or the morning—as if you get it wrong, the date will change at midday instead of midnight.

6. Will the movement be used (as base) for future watches?

Yes, we are in the process of equipping our entire range of timepieces with DUW calibers featuring the NOMOS swing system. The introduction of our DUW calibers will take place gradually; but the aim is that in the future, each and every NOMOS watch will be powered by a caliber featuring our proprietary escapement. Not only does the NOMOS swing system ensure chronometer-standard accuracy for the timepieces it powers, it also ensures independence and growth for NOMOS Glashütte as a company.

A rather handsome timepiece I must say...

7. How long did it take you to develop the Metro from time of conception to actual serial production?

Like all our watches, the Metro model took a long time to design, develop, and prepare for series production. At NOMOS Glashütte, it can often take years from when the first drafts are drawn up before the watches are ready for the market, and to be sent out into the world. And that may be the most important lesson: Those who build watches need patience and time. And the occasional coffee break.

Small details like the crown etc. are well developed (pardon the dirt)...

8. When did it start and when was it commercially released?

Our first Metro model was introduced to the public and press for the first time at Baselworld 2014. Since then, we have added two new versions to the Metro family—Metro 38 Datum and Metro 38 Datum urban gray. In Metro’s first year on the market, it has won numerous design prizes; including the Red Dot Award, the German Design Award, the Good Design Award, the iF Product Design Award, and the Goldene Unruh. The enthusiasm from the design community has been shared by customers too — as Metro has become one of NOMOS’ bestselling models. In fact, Metro still has long waiting lists with many retailers, despite NOMOS Glashütte tripling its planned production.

The response from NOMOS Glashütte/SA came courtesy of Ms. Katrin Bosse - many thanks Ms Bosse. We are equally excited about NOMOS making an "official" entry into the Singapore market. Watches of Switzerland (The Hourglass) is the authorised agent for NOMOS timepieces. Head down to the Vivo City outlet where they carry the NOMOS range.

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