Hands-On with the New Nomos Orion; A (Vintage) Movado Minute
And we podcast about our love for Cartier
This week’s newsletter is Presented By Subdial, the trading platform for watch enthusiasts and collectors. We’ve been partnering with Subdial since the beginning of the year, and since we feature a watch from their weekly drop every week, it has been fun to follow the diverse weekly selection of vintage, independent, and pre-owned watches they manage to curate.
Today: Hands-on with a pair of new Nomos Orions; a (vintage) Movado minute; and looking forward to a Chicago watch event. Rescapement is a weekly newsletter about watches. Subscribe now to get it in your inbox:
Hands-On with the Nomos Orion Silver and Gold
I love Nomos Glashütte. It’s the brand that got me into watches. A younger me wore a Nomos Tangente on my wedding day. I remember scouring the internet for something nice to wear, eventually stumbling on Nomos. Immediately, it felt different than the other minimalist watch brands that popped up in the 2010s that were really more marketers than manufacturers.
Something about Nomos drew me in. Sure, they’ve perfected that minimalist, Bahaus aesthetic, but they’ve done it in a way that feels authentic. As a German brand, based in the old watchmaking town of Glashutte, it always had a claim to the Bauhaus lineage. But Nomos manages to do Bauhaus in a modern way, reinterpreting the principles of the old design school into modern watchmaking.
Everyone wishes for silver and gold
The Orion is one of the four original models Nomos introduced when it first launched back in 1992, along with the Tangente, Ludwig, and Tetra. To me, these models still represent the best of Nomos, thirty years later.
My favorite releases from Nomos are often reinterpretations of these classic models that stay true to what Nomos is — understated, accessible independent watchmaking. For example, the two-hander Duo collection from a couple years ago is a favorite of mine.
This brings us to the pair of releases from Nomos earlier this year, the Orion Silver and Gold. The Orion Gold is 33mm, while the Silver is 38mm; both are understated, elegant takes on the classic Orion.
Let’s get this out of the way first: the smaller gold version was my favorite of the pair. The gold-plated dial is radiant, and the size fit my smaller wrist better than the Silver 38mm.
If you’re new to Nomos, this is the time to tell you about their long lugs. The Orion 38 has a 48mm lug-to-lug (for comparison, the 39mm Tudor Black Bay 58 has a 47mm lug-to-lug). So whatever diameter you’re typically comfortable with, knock off a millimeter or two when thinking about a Nomos.
Both the Gold and Silver Orion feature the Nomos in-house Alpha caliber, a manual-wind movement with a 43-hour power reserve. At this price point — a couple grand, that is — it’s a treat to look at, dominated by its nicely finished three-quarter plate. Remember at the top when I said Nomos is what got me into watches? This simple movement is what did it for me. Flipping over my first Tangente and seeing this beautiful movement made me realize that there were still craftspeople in this world who dedicate their lives to creating beautiful, functional objects.
The gold-plated dial on the new Orion 33 was the highlight for me, so let’s take a closer look. The dial is galvanized with gold plating, and the markers are a rhodium-plated dark brown, adding to the glow and warmth of the watch.
The crystal is slightly domed and gives a nice view of the dial. The elongated, curved lugs seem to curve at the same arc as the crystal’s dome, gently contouring to wrists of all sizes. Myself and Rescapement’s more slender-wristed model both found ourselves enjoying how it wore. Sure, the watch looks delicate on a slightly larger wrist, but it’s far from dainty.
Overall, the Orion Gold 33 is a more elevated take on the classic Orion. The dial makes it feel like the special occasion version of the model — the Jordan 1 “Rookie of the Year” colorway to the classic Orion.
Meanwhile, the Orion Silver 38 stays a bit closer to the classic Orion formula. The silver-plated dial feels a bit more white than Nomos’ traditional models, perhaps thanks to the gold-plated hands and indices. Those touches elevate this watch in a way that’s more subtle than the Gold 33.
Here’s a secret about Nomos that seems more well-kept than it should be: it makes great straps that you can also buy a la carte on Nomos’ website. I enjoyed the antharactie “velour leather” (suede, more or less) that comes standard on the Silver 38 so much that I ordered one for myself. For $70, it felt like a steal. They also offer Horween shell cordovan straps for a dressier look.
Back to Bauhaus
Years ago, when asked for a “budget" watch pick under $10,000, Philippe Dufour said, “I found that [Nomos] makes a very serious product. I like these watches, and for somebody who wants to start, I think this will be a good choice: not too expensive and good value for money.” (Note: the other watchmakers in this interview all answered Rolex, which makes Dufour’s answer even better. Perhaps not surprising though, given his well-known love for Glashutte neighbor Lange & Sohne.)
Historically, I’ve been a Tangente fan — the difference between the two models basically comes down to the Arabic numerals (or lack thereof) on the dial, and different case shapes. But after spending some time with the Orion, I found myself enjoying how it wears more. The case and lugs flow together more naturally (unlike the sharp, square lugs of the Tangente), and make the longer lugs more wearable.
The Orion Silver and Gold are my favorite things about Nomos — not overthinking it, just producing simple, elegant watches that stay true to its roots as an independent watchmaker and leader in modern Bauhaus design.
The Orion 33 gold starts at $1,920; the 38 silver starts at $2,260 (Nomos).
This week’s newsletter is Presented by Subdial, the ultimate trading platform for watch enthusiasts and collectors. Every week, we feature one of the watches from their weekly drop.
Subdial is quickly becoming my go-to source for seeing and learning about rare Lange & Sohne watches. This week, it’s this limited edition 1815 Cuvette, produced for Oeding Erdel to celebrate the retailer’s 100th anniversary in 2009. This particular 1815 is a limited edition of just 38 pieces, designed to pay homage to the retailer, one of the first to buy in and carry Lange when it re-launched. It features a hinged hunter caseback, often a favorite feature of Lange collectors, winking to its historic pocket watches. The inimitable Langepedia referred to this particular model as "one of the most special watches that one can get from A. Lange & Söhne." It’s hard to disagree — while the 1815 was originally introduced with a tourbillon, time-only executions like this feel true to Lange’s ethos as a manufacture of fine timekeeping instruments.
Visit Subdial for more on this 1815 Cuvette '“Oeding Erdel” or check out the full selection of Cartier, Kurono Tokyo, Rolex, and more from this week’s drop.
Wright Auction and Wind Vintage
On April 1, Wright Auction will be hosting its Chicago Edit Watch Auction here in Chicago. Perhaps just as exciting for locals, Wright will be hosting a preview, along with a presentation from Eric Wind on March 29 (it’ll also be streamed online). Check out the links for more info; you can also DM Wright’s Josh H for more.
suffers readers of this newsletter know we love vintage Movado. So when three interesting vintage Movados pop up in the same week, it feels destined they’d get their own segment.
Among the behemoth Richard Milles and gold Rolexes and Christie’s Dubai Auction, one little mid-century chronograph caught my eye: a Movado M90 Chronograph. It’s pretty much the ideal vintage chronograph — a sharp 35mm steel case, beautiful two-register silver dial, and an in-house Movado M90 caliber.
I was immediately reminded of this M90 that Avocado Vintage Watches sold in a flash last year. This example seems to have had a cleaner dial than the one at Christie’s, but no matter. Just for fun, here’s a beat-up example of the same dial configuration that sold way back in 2010. The M90 is a classic chronograph that should be viewed as rivaling the best chronograph makers from the 1940s through 60s — brands like Heuer, Universal Geneve, Longines, and Movado (sorry Patek!). In fact, if I made a vintage chronograph Mount Rushmore, that might be it. See this M90 with an estimate of $14-20k.
Next up, a vintage Movado I’ve never seen before. The seller is calling this an “Explorer,” though it reminds me more of an Eberhard Scafograf. Either way, it’s a Movado Kingmatic with an interesting dial configuration that makes it look much sportier than the dressy Kingmatics you’d usually find. The case has sharp beveled lugs, and the light dial has aged to a warm, cream color. Some of the best vintage Movado models — the M90 above as just one example — toe the line between dressy and sporty, and I love that this Kingmatic does the same. Check out this Movado from Portuguese dealer Watch Garage.
Finally, an M95 that sold before I could even hit send on this ‘sletter.
This one has the waterproof Francois Borgel case that long-time readers know we love. It also features a gorgeous snail dial with gold accents that’s more often found on stainless steel examples. The result is an elegant chronograph that’s the epitome of what so many love about mid-century watchmaking. Open the archives and take a look at this gold Movado M95, sold by Menta Watches.
THROUGH THE WIRE
🎧 Significant Watches Podcast Ep. 11: We gossip about the most popular watch brands of 2021. Then we go deep on the new No. 2 brand, Cartier. We all love Cartier for different reasons, so we talk about what we love about it, the current state of the market, and where it's headed.
🏎️ Mr. Porter Interviews William Massena. Some insightful takes from Mr. Massena, including a tease of what’s next for Massena Lab: “After this the next project is something from a different era. This time, I’m not only doing the design, I’m also doing the movement, which is much harder. It’s not new old stock; we have remade a time-only movement that was historically important, but has been lost. It’s a very modern watch, in the sense that it’s not a recreation of something aesthetically.” He also calls for more collaboration between watch brands, something I certainly co-sign.
🎣 Gone fishing. I just submitted a 3,200-word piece on the original Chopard LUC 1860 and caliber 1.96, so it took every ounce of willpower I have not to immediately pull the trigger on this white gold/salmon example now for sale. If it’s still around by the time you read this and you’ve got $36k to spare, take a look at what I now consider to be perhaps the best modern-ish dress watch (powered by what people smarter than me called the “best automatic movement being produced in Switzerland” at the time).
Have a good week!