Nomos Club Sport Neomatik Owner Review: The (Near) Perfect and Relatively Affordable Watch for Everyone?
by Raman Kalra
Raman Kalra is the founder of The Watch Muse blog and has kindly agreed to share some of his articles with us here on Quill & Pad.
When you think of Nomos, what first comes to mind? I imagine it is something along the lines of German watches with a Bauhaus design at a relatively affordable price. This could be followed by some sort of opinion, but it does not take away the fact that it is an accurate description of the brand. The reputation Nomos has built for itself in a relatively short time is nothing less than impressive.
For those who might be new to the brand, Nomos is based in Glashütte, the center of watchmaking in Germany (yes, the same place as A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original). Nomos has found a niche by being able to produce watches that offer value for money with in-house movements.
One of the most beloved collections is the Club collection, best known for its bolder, more versatile designs and entry-level price point. Within the Club range, there is a wide variety of dial, strap and size options, but there is also a choice between manual and automatic movements.
The Nomos watch I am reviewing here is probably one of the most versatile options. The Club Sport Neomaik featured comes in a 37mm case diameter (also available in 42mm) with a slate dial and automatic movement.
Despite the Club being an established range for Nomos, is it still worth considering in 2023? Can anything beat what is on offer from Nomos for the price?
Finally, we will consider where Nomos is heading in an ever-competitive market.
For full disclosure, this is a watch from my wife’s collection. It has given me an extended time with the watch and as always, both the positives and negatives will be pointed out to try and help you decide whether it might be right for you.
As always, I like to start with a few lines touching on the unboxing experience. If we are being honest, it is only a fraction of the experience of owning a watch, especially as it is usually over within a few minutes. However, it is a part of the experience and when buying a luxury item, it needs to be considered. You may have read this opinion from other reviews, but it stands, and like with many things in life, first impressions count. The unboxing experience is your introduction to your new watch and it’s becoming even more so as brands are using online retail channels.
With that in mind, let us turn to the Nomos experience. You are presented with a grey outer box holding a slim, navy leather pouch that carries the watch flat along with a lint cloth and paperwork. It feels as though Nomos is approaching the packaging differently from others. Where the competition aims for large, statement boxes made of materials such as card, wood, leather or plastic, Nomos is taking a more minimalistic view. The quality of the leather pouch is pleasing. It is supple, the zip gives you confidence and the layout when open is well thought out, but nothing here is over the top. Rather, it feels as though Nomos is aiming for functionality.
You might be different, but my boxes tend to sit at the back of a cupboard untouched and take up storage space. Nomos has thought of this, and it is no surprise that it takes up minimal room given how compact everything is in the grand scheme of things. However, where I believe Nomos does have an edge is that the leather case can, in theory, be used as a travel case, or even somewhere to house your watch when you are not wearing it. By being accessible and portable, they are giving you something that you can actually use compared to other brands. In that sense, it is quite refreshing and appreciated.
Do I think you will get a bigger experience from other brands? Yes. There is no denying it. However, Nomos is still comparatively better than some competing brands. I don’t think too much of my Tudor unboxing experience for example. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that brands at a lower price point are becoming more competitive. Christopher Ward comes to mind having just spent some time with one of their watches, which arrived in a heavy, bamboo box that exuded quality. Given this, there can always be room to improve going forward, but for now, the value of the Nomos packaging is its long-term usability.
Nomos has a distinct aesthetic when it comes to the whole collection. The Bauhaus design language was used as a base, but the Nomos design team made small variations and adjustments to give them something unique. There are not many designs that can become synonymous with a brand, yet I firmly believe the Club is one that has.
There are many dial variations on offer, not just in color but also a choice between the California dial or the dial found here with Arabic numerals. It is fantastic that a brand beyond Panerai has made the California dial as widely known, accessible and popular. It is a design I have admired for a long time, and by choosing that option, I believe you are picking the more playful variant. Typically, Roman numerals are found on dressier pieces, but here I find the California dial brings a sense of youthfulness and fun.
Saying that. I am equally as attracted to the Roman numerals, and I believe it brings an extra dose of versatility to the watch. Again, this can all be reversed as it will all depend on the dial color you opt for.
Moving on to dial colors, there are obviously bright options, although it is the more subtle shades of blue that draw me in. They manage to produce such interesting, individual shades. The one here is a deep blue with a tint of grey – hopefully, this can come across in the images. The minute track around the edge is delicate, and what isn’t so obvious at first glance is that the numerals at the five-minute positions are in teal.
Moving inwards, the hour indices are well-proportioned and clear. The writing on the dial is sparse and what’s more, the “neomatik” branding is in a dark yellow, making it slightly less visible, helping to keep any intrusion to a minimum. Then there is the sub-seconds, shown through an electric orange hand that really jumps out of the dial. It continues to add to the personality of the overall watch. Through these small color choices made across the dial, Nomos demonstrates they have a real talent for working with color. They are all the exact shade where they work seamlessly well together and complement one another.
So many brands try to experiment with color and get it wrong, yet with Nomos it looks as though no experimentation was needed – it was always meant to be this way.
The final comment I will make on the dial is the spacing. Nomos has got it right. Spacing is not something I consider often. It is more noticeable to me when it is wrong, but very few watches get me to appreciate spacing for being right. For example, the spacing between the writing on the dial sits at a great position between the 12 o’clock index and the center of the dial, the size of the hour indices, the size of the sub-seconds register and the length and thickness of the hands. I don’t know how they reached these decisions, but I am grateful for it!
As mentioned early on, the case for this reference is 37mm with a thinness of only 9.27mm and a lug-to-lug of 48.5mm. This results in the watch wearing very comfortably, fitting under a cuff as you would expect; however, on the wrist, it does feel more delicate than you might first expect. There is nothing wrong with this, it just does not wear as sporty as some dial options might suggest.
What is interesting about the case is that it is made using only two pieces – the bezel and side case are one single polished structure. It results in the case having flowing lines and a solid feel. When wearing the watch and viewing it from the top, the Club has a pebble-like look; however, even though it is one solid piece, Nomos has made the case sides flat. The lugs extend out of the case and have a slight taper downwards to follow the shape of the wrist.
The lug length is one issue that comes up frequently when discussing Nomos and I am going to agree it is one of the areas that I would change if I could. By being this long, it leads to a gap between the strap and the case which is something I personally don’t prefer. I won’t spend too long on this as it has been covered extensively, I am just surprised that Nomos has not changed this through the years.
Turning the watch over, you are presented with either a solid caseback designed to be engraved or an exhibition caseback showing off the in-house Nomos movement. The watch I am reviewing has the exhibition caseback and I could not be happier about that. The exhibition casebacks from Nomos are fantastic. They are large and really give you a lot to look at – it helps the movements are well-decorated for the price point. It all gives a feeling of quality and this is one area where I feel as though the Nomos punches above its weight.
We will discuss this further when looking at the movement. However, I would say that if you are able to select this option (their website allows you to customise whether you want an exhibition caseback or not for an extra cost), I would highly recommend it as it takes the Club to the next level.
As with everything else, Nomos gives you a choice when it comes to strap and bracelet options. It is a theme that I hope you are noticing as we go through each aspect of the Club. The strap here is the standard one included with this particular variant and it is a navy nylon strap with pin-buckle clasp. I won’t and can’t go into much depth here as it is a simple offering, albeit comfortable. My impression is this is where they have decided to keep costs down so they can allow a more accessible retail price. If this is the case, I don’t blame them and I am happy that the Club can be an option for more people to enjoy. However, I have to be honest.
The strap is just not good for how much money you are spending. This particular watch had a retail price of £2,700, yet the strap is extremely thin and does not give much confidence when you are wearing it. I know someone who owned the Club with a nylon strap that began to fray after only a few months of wear. Granted, Nomos did replace it for free after some customer service back and forth, but this is not what you want to deal with when you purchase a luxury watch. My best suggestion is to pay slightly more for one of their optional bracelets or think about changing it to a strap from elsewhere.
The Neomatik naming indicates this model has an automatic movement. Specifically, the caliber DUW 3001. I cannot say this enough: this is one of the bright spots of the Nomos Club experience. Yes, the design and personality draw you in, but the movement is where Nomos takes the step to go beyond others. The movement is made with their propriety swing escapement, 27 jewels and a 43 hour power reserve. The Club can be such a thin watch because the caliber is so compact. The DUW 3001 is only 3.2mm thick.
On top of that, the movement is tested in six different positions meaning it is adjusted to chronometer standards. It is also an efficient movement, sitting at 94.2% according to the Nomos website so friction loss sits at 5.8% compared to the average of 20%. It is impressive that they have managed to produce such a movement in-house and put it in an accessible package.
Then we move to the decoration. It is captivating and is one of the best-looking movements I have seen at the price point. The attention to detail they have taken and the end result is why this watch always sets the bar for me for watches at the same price.
Nomos uses thermally tempered blue screws, rhodium-plated surfaces with Glashütte ribbing and Nomos perlage. There is the Glashütte three-quarter plate and the rotor is skeletonized. This looks great and allows you to see even more of the movement underneath. It is excellent and the best part, as I mentioned when discussing the case, the exhibition caseback is large so you can actually appreciate it!
On the wrist
The Nomos Club is the sum of well-executed parts (excluding the strap) for the price, so how does it end up wearing on the wrist?
I am pleased to report that it does end up wearing very well. It might be obvious given the dimensions that it would end up sitting nicely on the wrist. It does not get in the way, it is relatively light and it ends up blending into the background. That is until you look down and are met with the beautiful colors on the satisfying dial.
Where other brands change the dial color to make a watch “fun”, it does not always work out that way. For example, I am thinking of the Omega Aqua Terra that now comes in various colors as a part of their Shades campaign. I am a fan of them but I don’t think they exude fun. It feels like artificial fun. Rather I see a serious watch with a red, green or blue dial, whereas the Nomos is by nature light-hearted and can’t help but bring a smile to your face.
Through the Club you are able to find a color combination that allows you to express yourself, and if none are for you, then there are other model ranges that give you all the Nomos benefits with a different personality. All of this results in a versatile watch that would look at home whether you are in shorts or a suit.
Now typically I would praise a watch for being thin, however, in the case of the Club, a part of me thinks they could get away with it being slightly thicker. The reason I say this is because on the wrist the watch feels like a dress watch. It is solid but by being so thin, there is a sense of delicacy. I have no problem with this, but the Club, by being a watch positioned as a go-anywhere, do-anything watch, is also meant to also have a sporty, casual vibe. Nomos does address this through the dial but it doesn’t come through the feeling on the wrist.
There are days when you might be more active and I think you would feel the same in wanting something feeling a little more robust. Not a knock by any means, but rather an observation.
Should you consider the Nomos Club?
This is an easy question. Absolutely. There may be areas where I can find room for improvement, but I have no doubt that this should be considered by anyone looking for a watch in this price range. Nomos manages to offer an exceptional level of quality for the money, and this extends to the movement. To some degree, the movement really is one of the most intriguing aspects. Usually, a watch that retails between £1,000-£3,000 relies on a more mass-produced movement and it is great to see another route for consumers to take through Nomos. To have a watch made in-house from Glashütte with such a distinguished aesthetic is truly compelling.
What I have found when looking at watches in this price range is that it is hard to ignore Nomos. It is always lurking in the back of my mind as a benchmark for what is on offer. This is obviously clearer if the comparison is similar in style. It also becomes even more apparent when looking at the entry-level Club, which has a retail price of £1,400 that can be frequently found for less through third-party vendors online. In that sense, I thoroughly recommend the Nomos Club as a first luxury watch.
Likewise, if you already have a collection and are looking for something new, Nomos should be in the conversation if the style and price align with you.
The Club can offer something distinct regardless of whether you choose a white, blue or orange dial. You can define how loud the watch is, but nevertheless, you will be purchasing something that is packed with personality that can be played up or down. Take this reference in question, the strap could be changed to an orange nylon and become extremely bold, but equally, a navy leather strap would not be out of place and dress it down. That is what Nomos is able to offer.
What’s next for Nomos?
Clearly, I am a fan of the Nomos Club and as this is a review, I could stop there. However, I want to consider the broader picture for Nomos, especially in the current environment where competition is getting stiffer and other brands such as Oris, Longines, Tudor, and Microbrands are all targeting the same consumers. You are seeing quality levels improve and bolder designs both modern and vintage-inspired.
At the same time, there has been a notable shift in demand towards sports watches. They offer a broad sense of versatility and as work environments have become more casual in recent years, sports watches are only becoming more popular. This does not help the case for Nomos and explains why one of the newer additions from the brand is the Club Sport, a 37mm or 42mm sportier Club on a bracelet.
Nomos has a strong design philosophy and that should remain as it is one of their unique selling points. However, in my opinion, I now want to see what Nomos can do next that is truly new. New dial colors are great but I am really interested to see what they can do that can be considered refreshing. Examples of the last time we saw this are their Autobahn range, although I will let you form your own opinion of those, as well as the new Tetra, an unapologetically square watch. What could be next though? It could be a small change such as a center seconds hand, something not done before by the brand, that allows a new dynamic and color combinations to play with. More interestingly, it could be a completely new range.
Recently, Louis Vuitton launched the new Tambour, a beautiful watch in its own right, and when seeing it, I couldn’t help but think this sort of design would work extremely well for Nomos. It would help Nomos build out of the Club range into a new, sportier model that does not exist in their collection. This is just my opinion, and it all stems from my wanting the brand to keep succeeding as they have been.
Nomos has found its own niche within the world of watches. It is easy to see why they have gained such a strong reputation by providing unique, Bauhaus-inspired designs and quality in-house movements at relatively affordable prices. In my eyes, the Nomos Club Neomatik is one of the best watches in their collection. A perfect balance of what Nomos is all about. A wonderful combination of unusual colors gives it a strong dose of personality and versatility.
It can look the part in both casual and more formal situations. There are some areas that have been disappointing such as the strap, and aspects that have surprised me such as its slimness. I always thought thinner is better, but I’m not sure that’s the case here. Should any of the negatives stop you from considering Nomos and the Nomos Club? Not at all! It can be a watch for everyone, whether you are looking for your first or fifth watch. I would say I am intrigued to see what Nomos can do next going forward.
I would love to see a new range that is even sportier with a fresh design. The competition is getting better and tastes are changing, and I believe this would help Nomos continue on their successful path. For now there is enough on offer across the Nomos collection to find something that will appeal to you.
For more information, please visit https://nomos-glashuette.com/en/club/club-sport-neomatik-polar-747
Quick facts Nomos Club Sport Neomatik 37
Indications: hours, minutes, small seconds
Case: stainless steel
Dimensions: 37mm diameter x 8.3mm high
Water resistance: 200 meters
Bracelet: stainless steel with quick-change spring bars
Movement: in-house manufacture Caliber DUW 3001 with Swing System escapement
Price: 2680- euros
You can read more articles by Raman Kalra at www.thewatchmuse.com.
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