Nomos Glashütte Lambda In Stainless Steel: Celebrating 175 Years Of Fine Watchmaking In Glashütte
Seven years ago, in October 2013, Nomos Glashütte introduced its first serial wristwatches housed in gold cases. Lux and Lambda each featured brand-new precious metal cases – one even in an odd-for-Nomos tonneau form – and new shapes, colors, and even movements. Until that point in time, the Glashütte brand was known for the excellent price-performance ratio of its steel-encased watches.
Lux and Lambda were experimental – which was sensational for a brand that doesn’t much care for experiments. Finding a degree of success with them, Nomos has kept them in the collection to this day.
As the city of Glashütte honors 175th anniversary of watchmaking in 2020, Nomos thankfully couldn’t let the opportunity go by to celebrate despite all that this year has brought down. The brand organized a small event with local guests in a building in Glashütte that it had just freshly acquired and renovated.
While the gist of the event was to discuss and celebrate all that Glashütte has accomplished in 175 years, the star of the show was the new set of three celebratory versions of the Lambda in a new (and very appropriate for this year) stainless steel case.
Putting the audacity of the Nomos Lambda design in historical context
There is no mistaking how audacious this design was in 2013 compared to the output of Nomos Glashütte’s previous 22 years’ worth of designs. Nomos had always stayed in a highly affordable stainless steel price range, specializing in a price-performance ratio that most other brands had and still have a rather hard time matching.
The original four models – Tangente, Tetra, Orion, and Ludwig – were designed on the base of original Bauhaus-style models from the 1920s. Color only became a regular addition to Nomos lines after the advent of the vibrant Tetras (back then called the “Ladies Tetra”) and the limited Wempe 100 special edition of 2004.
Multi-award-winning industrial designer Simon Husslein was responsible for Lambda’s sculptural case and Berlin professor of design Axel Kufus designed the dial with the dominant power reserve indication back in the day.
The original Lambda was a bit larger than the new celebratory model at 42 x 8.9 mm; this new 40.5 x 7 mm size hits my sweet spot and will certainly hit most people’s, I imagine.
A very special Nomos movement: DUW 1001
The movement is the real treasure here for a connoisseur of mechanical watches. And like the rebooted dial and case of the celebratory Lambda, the movement also needs a little historical explanation.
The year was 2004 and Nomos founder Roland Schwertner was collaborating heavily with his best retailer, Hellmut Wempe, the third-generation owner of the Wempe chain (Kim-Eva, now in charge, is the fourth generation), who was doing gangbuster business in Germany with Nomos watches as the entry-level point of his 25 stores (including New York, where Wempe remained the only point of sale in the United States for decades).
To kick off Wempe’s own timepiece label and celebrate a number of Wempe-related activities such as inaugurating the Glashütte observatory as a production workshop and chronometer-testing facility (the only one presently in Germany), the two created a Nomos-designed and –manufactured luxury watch. This was before Wempe established its own Glashütte-based workshops and had the capacity for such a project.
The crown jewel of the Wempe collection called Chronometerwerke was the 25-piece limited edition tourbillon designed by Nomos’ then head watchmaker and handmade in Nomos’ workshop. A limited edition, tonneau-shaped, hand-wound model with similar visuals but without tourbillon was launched at the same time.
The Lambda movement is a close relative of that Wempe-branded movement of 2004. Mirko Heyne, who was also responsible for both the Nomos automatic and the world time movements, marvelously transposed the ideals belonging to Glashütte’s art of watchmaking into the luxurious, clean, and, yes, opulent Caliber DUW 1001.
This very finely finished movement is regulated to chronometer-level precision, though it does not come with an official certificate (which would have easily raised its price by €500 to €1,000). During the event, Nomos took care to point out this accuracy as most Nomos movements are not regulated to that tight precision.
As this is Nomos’ “haute horlogerie” movement, it also contains several elements and artistic attributes from the region such as a three-quarter plate, typical finishing patterns and decoration, six screw-mounted chatons, and the hand-engraved balance cock, which boasts an interesting detail so very typical of Nomos: where other brands engrave the balance cock with a floral pattern, looking closely here we find that Nomos’ hand-engraved pattern plays with the words “mit Liebe in Glashütte gefertigt” (“made with love in Glashütte”).
Which brings me to Nomos’ movements. Many people don’t realize that all of Nomos’ movements are manufacture movements (see How Does Nomos Glashütte Make A Beautiful Watch With Manufacture Movement For Under $3,000?).
Yes, this brand began its modern life using the Peseux 7001 as its core caliber (a svelte, hand-wound movement that perfectly fit the unisex style of the original four models), but worked very hard to trade out components for in-house ones and upgrade other elements as it went along. Today, all Nomos calibers – which have been named for the Greek alphabet since the advent of the Nomos automatic movement – are their own. With the introduction of the first Lambda in 2013, the caliber names changed again to underscore Nomos’ in-house manufacturing capabilities: Lambda is powered by Caliber DUW 1001. DUW stands for “Deutsche Uhrenwerke,” a name that plays on Glashütte’s past.
Nomos Glashütte Lambda stainless steel limited editions
The new stainless steel Lambda is limited to just 175 pieces in each of three dial colors – all of which are lively and stunning in the metal. While I normally gravitate toward blue dials, the more I looked at, played with, and tried these trio of lovelies on, the more I realized I had fallen in love with the black-dial model.
All three dials are lacquered, but in such a way that they seem endlessly deep (which makes them terribly hard to photograph as well). This depth effect is enhanced by the curvature of the very large sapphire crystal, which spans the entirety of the front, as the Lambda appears to have no bezel.
For me, trading out the precious gold for the more everyday-friendly stainless steel was a genius move, making the watch easier to wear and very likely easier to acquire. But only if you hurry.
For more information, please visit www.nomos-glashuette.com/en/watches/new-releases/lambda-175-years-watchmaking-glashuette.
Quick Facts Nomos Glashütte Lambda – 175 Years Watchmaking Glashütte
Case: 40.5 x 7 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Nomos Caliber DUW 1001, 84-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph, twin spring barrels, 6 polished and screw-mounted chatons, swan-neck fine adjustment, hand-engraved balance cock
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve indication
Limitation: 175 pieces in each color
Price: €5,653 (Germany)