Ace Jewelers x Nomos: Celebrating 100 Years Of ‘De Stijl’
by Martin Green
Can something that is functional also be an object of art?
If there is one brand that has proven — at least in watches — that functional objects can be art it is Nomos. The German company’s designs are minimalistic, which leads to enormous focus on every minuscule detail.
So it’s no surprise that Nomos treats the design of its watches extremely seriously, as seriously as making them in fact. And proving just how seriously, aside from the Nomos manufacture in Glashütte, the company also maintains a large Berlin-based design studio.
Complementary to the natural design language of Nomos is that of “De Stijl” (Dutch for “The Style”), which art students might also know as Neoplasticism.
This art movement begun in 1917 promoted the reduction of shapes and colors to their bare essentials. The best-known members of this movement are painter Piet Mondriaan (also known as Mondrian) and architect/designer Gerrit Rietveld.
To celebrate the centennial anniversary of the De Stijl, Dutch jeweler and longtime Nomos retailer Ace Jewelers from Amsterdam decided to create a limited edition comprising the Nomos Orion with a dial designed in the artistic style.
With hour markers that are different in length and thickness, the Orion gets a surprising transformation – and the first word that comes to mind is playful. Symmetry plays an important role in Nomos designs anyway, and by taking that away the watch experiences a modest twist, receiving even more character.
It makes it a bit of a rebel!
What remains is, of course, the steady base provided by the Orion with which the watch shares its case and movement. Long, slender lugs connect to the 38 mm case, which wears comfortably and is a breeze to read as it is almost all dial.
Also, its modest height of 8.86 mm contributes significantly to the wearing comfort of the watch.
Developed and manufactured in-house, the Nomos Alpha movement is also a treat. The movement is a solid performer developed with contemporary German styling. The Alpha caliber combines the typical three-quarter plate decorated with Glashutte ribbing and blued screws, yet its thorough, beautiful finish also becomes clear when you look, for example, underneath the balance wheel and discover the engine turning.
The Alpha movement is visible through a sapphire crystal and framed by a case back that is engraved with a dedication to the centennial anniversary of De Stijl.
What the watch is lacking are the primary colors for which De Stijl is also well known, colors that became famous through Mondrian’s works of art. This was a clever choice because, while eye-catching, bold colors can be seen as gimmicky or a passing fad.
By changing the length and thickness of the hour markers, the connection with De Stijl is already clearly made; adding color might have actually have gone against the movement’s credo to limit oneself to the bare essentials.
It is for sure a watch that proves once again that less is absolutely more.
The Nomos is best enjoyed strapped to the wrist with the black Horween shell cordovan strap that most Nomos watches come with. It helps you enjoy this watch’s exceptional wearing comfort as well as its artistic, slightly rebellious dial, which you can only find on this limited edition.
With only 100 pieces being made, the watch stays true to the term “limited,” yet it is priced equal to the regular Nomos Orion it is based upon.
This is as pleasant as it is unique because the term “limited edition” has become all too often a synonym for “available at a premium” in the watch world (see Can We Still Take Limited Editions Seriously, Or Is That Already A Rhetorical Question?).
So in that way this Ace Jewelers x Nomos Orion 100 Years of De Stijl remains true to the art movement it got its inspiration from in another way: by also limiting the premium to its bare minimum!
For more information, please visit www.acejewelers.com/en-ch/ace-x-nomos-limited-edition.
Quick Facts Ace x Nomos Orion 100 Years of De Stijl
Case: 38 x 8.86 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manual-wind Nomos Caliber Alpha, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 17 jewels, 43-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds
Limitation: 100 pieces
* Disclosure: in researching this article, Martin Green covered his own expenses. He received no inducements from either Nomos or Ace Jewelers, who was kind enough to provide the watch for review.
Also published on Medium.