‘Collect moments, not things’ – Going hands-on with the Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41
Editor’s note: This review is part of our ‘W.R.A.T.H’ series, or ‘What’s Really Available Today Here’ watch photo reviews. It is a new series where we go hands-on with watches that can at least at the time of writing be bought! Seasoned collectors or enthusiasts would know that how difficult it is to be able to buy timepieces you like as either there is a waiting list for them or they are not available in your city. Well, to crush that intensely depressing feeling, we have contacted a few local — Sydney based only for now — watch boutiques and dealers to provide you with quick photographic reviews of watches that are actually available to buy. These could be the latest novelties from brands or simply rather poplar models that are now available. For our other reviews of latest novelties, please head here. For our detailed reviews, please head to our dedicated review section here. Today’s watches are brought with the grateful assistance of The Hour Glass Sydney.
The Watch: The Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41 date ref. 1303 is designed by the famed German product designer Werner Aisslinger in partnership with NOMOS. Featuring an in-house designed and built movement, the timepiece we are looking at today sits within the Autobahn collection from 2018 alongside two other variations, one of them being a beautiful midnight blue dialled version
Available At: The Hour Glass Sydney
Suited For: The gentleman who likes to keep things simple. It’s for someone who likes a good bargain and doesn’t want his timepieces to scream. Its wearer is not seeking attention, but rather subtly showcasing his love for horology
Our In-person Impression: There is a Paulo Coelho quote that reads – “Collect moments, not things”. The Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41 is an embodiment of it; with its Bauhaus-inspired simple and minimalistic design, it allows the wearer to do just that – collect moments in time and not be distracted. It’s a timepiece designed to tell the time, and it does that with style and efficiency.
Will You Like It: When it comes to a NOMOS timepiece, that entirely depends on individual tastes. Let’s be honest; Nomos Glashütte pieces have a distinct minimalistic design that’s either for you or not for you. Scour the forums and comments online, and from being beautifully bare-boned to mind-numbingly boring, from ‘Less is More’ to ‘Plain Jane’, the range of emotions vary a fair bit when it comes to people’s reactions.. The Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41 is no different.
Do We Like It: Being an architect, the Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41 is like a playground for me. To give some context, when I was designing, I followed two design dictums: ‘form follows function’ and ‘deconstruction’. To me, this timepiece uses the ideologies of both, mixing them up pretty well.
The former is evident from the simplicity of the design layout, and the integration of the movement with the case sizing (as also seen in the use of a triple date window). The latter is evident in NOMOS’ use of racing and driving influences that instead of being direct design interpretations end up being inspirations.
The racing theme’s deconstruction can be seen through two aspects. First, the nomenclature. The subtle touches of a sports watch architecture are brought out by the vintage charm, that is emblematic of the world of fast driving as evident from the name of the collection – autobahn (german for motorways).
Second, the dial architecture is reminiscent of analog vintage car dashboards, but unlike say Chopard’s Mille Miglia collection where the influence is in-your-face, this one tapers that down. The banked curves on the periphery are reminiscent of race tracks. And I haven’t confirmed this from the brand but given the autobahns usually have three lines either direction, the three date window displays offers a nice homage to that idea.
Combine these and you get the Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41.
Usually, I am all about legibility, and while this timepiece doesn’t disappoint, it’s nothing great to write home about. The minutes hand is an issue, and without lume, it doesn’t do the watch any favours especially at night. That said, I kind of like the quirkiness of having the hours hand in orange and lumed. To me, it more accurately speaks of indicators on car dashboards. It’s a very industrial and mechanical look, bare-bones yet funky. It may not be very Nomos-like, but it’s a departure I am willing to take in my stride.
Where does it score: It’s minimalistic design. Allow me to share another quotation here, this time around by Albert Einstein. “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
The Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41 may be a simplified take on time telling, especially when one is living in a world with the likes of MB&F and Hublot and Panerai, but it has a fair few design tricks up its sleeves that help elevate this offering.
One of the first impressions you get is the subtle use of geometry and curves. The curve of the dial and simplicity of the overall aesthetic is what draws you in. Despite being a rather ‘plain’ watch, I was surprised by the amount of surface inter-play and the 3D effect the watch had to offer. The blue luminous ring with Superluminova (blue luminescence) on a galvanised, rhodium-plated dial is the star here. The contrasting use of orange on the hands and the elongated date window at 6’o clock bring in the sense of quirkiness I was talking about earlier. The indentation of the small seconds dial at 6 works superbly in sync with the concave curve of the overall dial, and the window aperture cutout adds to the 3D effect.
Personally, I would have preferred not printed but applied numerals that would have helped bring in a bit more refined look to the dial but its not something that NOMOS offers commonly. The peripheral minute track nicely frames the dial and Arabic numerals help in overall legibility. I am not personally a fan of triple date windows but its execution here leaves me impressed. The overall geometry of the dial gets more balanced due to it, and its curve also matches with that of the blue luminous ring on the top of the dial.
The Movement: The heart used — DUW 6101 — is an in-house automatic movement with a bidirectional quick correction date feature. The incorporation of the bi-directional quick set date is impressive, especially given not many brands do that, though there are certain notable examples such as the Ulysse Nardin Michelangelo Big Date and a few Seiko & Tissot models.
The 15 ½ ‴( or 35.2 mm) x 3.6mm movement comprises of 27 jewels and offers an okay 42-hour power reserve. The movement is adjusted in six positions and features stop-seconds mechanism, tempered blue balance spring, a thermally blued Carl Haas hairspring, tempered blued screws, Glashütte three-quarter plate, rhodium-plated surfaces with Glashütte ribbing, and NOMOS perlage with golden engravings. The bidirectional winding rotor also features gold-plated embossing of the phrase “Nomos Glashütte Deutsche Uhrenwerke”.
The movement also features one more technical advancement, the NOMOS swing system. It is an in-house built escapement that was first announced in 2014 and has since then allowed the brand to make its movements completely in-house.
The calibre DUW 6101 can also be found in other Nomos offering with larger diameters, such as the Tangente neomatik 41 ref. 180, Ludwig neomatik 41 ref. 260, Orion nematic 41 ref. 360, and Club Sport neomatik 42 ref. 781 amongst others.
The movement is slightly different from the calibre DUW 5101 used in the recently released Ahoi Date Doctors Without Borders LE ref. 551.S2. It, however, features a smaller 13 ¾ lignes or 13 ¾‴(31 mm) diameter and thicker (4.3mm) movement. I am mentioning this because the calibre DUW 5101 is also an in-house automatic movement with a date display and housed inside a similar 40.3mm diameter and 10.6mm thick stainless steel case but if you look at the caseback, you will realise that the movement of the Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41 is larger and fits the overall case better. It is clearly specifically designed for the dimensions of this particular watch and that’s something worth commending.
Coming back to the calibre DUW 6101, it is cased inside a 41.0mm diameter and 10.5mm thick stainless steel case with bipartite domed sapphire crystal glass back and a domed sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating on the front.
Anything Else: Like all NOMOS watches, the Autobahn neomatik 41 is the definition of minimalistic elegance. The elegant almost white looking dial is clean as a whistle and preserves the brand’s DNA of purity. The alternating printed black Arabic hour markers are simple and legible.
The very slim bezel and lug profile help showcase most of the dial in its glory. Short, downturned lugs make it wear smaller than it really is. The 20mm inter-horn spacing is convenient and it’s good to know that a wide variety of aftermarket straps are available at your whim and fancy.
Everything is practical about the timepiece. It’s designed to be used for everyday wear, and believe it or not, would actually make for quite a good beater: it’s thin enough to fit under the cuff, simple enough to work with formal wear, funky enough to pair down with jeans and a t-shirt, and water-resistant enough to take to the pool with you. Even the rather thin blue-black woven textile strap it comes with is waterproof. Not only that, I was also impressed by the NATO-like aesthetic of it but without the bulk and the fact that it doesn’t obscure the movement.
The Verdict: It’s quirky, coloured and fun. And extremely lightweight. Both feel wise and aesthetics wise, it’s there but not really there; it’s subtlety at its best.
I will wrap this up with another quotation, this time by Leonardo da Vinci. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
With the Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41, you get an excellent offering with an in-house movement at a relatively bargain price of only $6’760 AUD.
To find out more about the Nomos Glashütte Autobahn neomatik 41 and other NOMOS timepieces, please head to their website here or visit their authorised retailer The Hour Glass at 142 King St, Sydney (02 9221 2288). All images unless otherwise stated are ©WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt.