Open from 1919 to 1933, the Bauhaus was a sort of Utopian school of art, craft and architecture that has had a major and lasting effect on modern design. Founded by architect Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany, the Bauhaus in its fairly short lifetime output some of the great artists, designers and architects of the 20th century. Looking at the work from the period, its relevance and influence is undeniable, which is remarkable considering the school was founded nearly a century ago.
With so many watches being large, aggressive and sport-inspired, something simple, easy to wear and versatile belongs in everyone’s collection. Bauhaus inspired watches are a perfect fit, as their minimalist design makes them elegant enough to be dress watches, yet simple enough for daily wear. Often defined by a lack of extraneous detail, small stripped-down cases, clean fonts and thin hands, a Bauhaus watch has a design full of history, yet a modern attitude.
The following list of watches is a general guide for those who are interested in the style. Since the Bauhaus was a school, saying something is “Bauhaus inspired” is actually very vague. Certain watches are clearly based on designs contemporary with the school, others are by students of the school and yet many more are just based on the general aesthetic philosophy. As such, for the sake of making this guide more interesting, some of the choices might veer out of the expected boundaries. Listed in order of price:
Now owned by Fossil Group, Skagen of Denmark has always maintained a very clean sensibility that at times clearly draws upon the Bauhaus principles. Their functionally titled Super Slim Chrome & Black Watch is elegant and sparse, with a silver dial, black line index and thin black hands, exemplifies this. At 39 x 5.7mm the watch is blade thin, emphasizing the overall minimal aesthetic and making for a very wearable watch. Oddly, the watch does feature a 22mm lug width, which seems excessive for a 39mm watch. At $110, this is also the most minimally priced watch on the list.
The Uniform Wares 152 features a remarkably stripped down dial of little more than a series of thin lines. No name, no seconds, just the barest of indexes. Combined a thin and architectural 35mm case, and you have a watch that speaks to the Bauhaus, yet has a touch of something different. Coming in just shy of $300, the 152 is on the higher end for a Ronda quartz with mineral crystal, but at least with UW you know that every component was designed in-house, and frankly, the watch looks like it’s worth far more.
The self-titled Bauhaus Watch by Kent Wang features a clean white dial with thin black lines, 3 o’clock date window, and no text or logos. The sparse dial nicely offsets the blued-steel hands. At 42 x 10mm with a 22mm lug width, this is one of the larger Bauhaus inspired watches out there. Featuring a sapphire crystal and automatic movement, its modest price of $350 isn’t bad, though it uses a Chinese made BWAF auto, which is not a movement we have seen before. For more details, check out Hodinkee’s review.
AB Art makes many different watches that speak to the Bauhaus style. From 2-hand watches with simple line indexes to Max Bill-esque varieties to interesting 31-hole date dials, they seem to have the spread covered. One watch that stands out from their catalogue, as well as this guide, is the KLD Moon. With a black, layered dial and thicker white luminous marker and hands, the KLD Moon has a modern attitude and is altogether attractive. But what makes it interesting is the large luminous Moon phase located just above 6. While having a Moon phase might be unto itself not especially Bauhaus, the implementation here is about as clean and matter of fact as possible, which seems appropriate. The KLD Moon is a limited edition of 500, features a sapphire crystal, quartz Moon phase movement with date and runs about $450.
The Aristo Dessau takes the telltale black rotating numerals on a silver/white dial of historical Bauhaus watches and puts them in a slightly sporty 38.5mm polished steel case. The design also features a date window at 3, and slightly flaring steel hands. The overall look is quite fun and interesting, and a slight departure from other Bauhaus watches. For $499, this German made watch is powered by an ETA 2824-2 and features a steel mesh bracelet, which dresses it up nicely.
The Bauhaus line by Junkers is less Bauhaus and more Max Bill descended, but still offers some interesting variations. While a purist would likely save their cash for a Max Bill, the Junkers 6060, with Miyota 9100 movement, does offer something a bit special. With a power reserve and 24-hr hand, this is one of the only watches on this list to expand beyond 3-hand with date function. They also seamlessly integrated the additional dials in, keeping the aesthetic, and are the only brand other than Junghans to use domed acrylic crystals. While some people shy away from them, the look is right for watch like this. At $549, this watch is pretty fairly priced for the components and build (it’s the same watch as the Zeppelin we review here), though it does get very close to the cost of the real thing.
Perhaps the biggest outlier, but for the sake of something different, the Defakto Akkord comes from a similar desire for the barest of designs, yet the end result is bolder and more aggressive. The intensely graphic dial and hands are structural and high contrast. Paired with the 42mm case that has more of a pilot’s design than a classic dress design, and you end up with a thoroughly modern watch that harkens to the philosophies of the Bauhaus. At just about $550, the Akkord is also a good deal on a German made watch (made is Pforzheim) with an ETA 2824-2 and sapphire crystal.
Having been a student of the Bauhaus, Max Bill’s watches for Junghans distill the education he received into a clean and timeless watch design. Originally released in 1961, the various models demonstrate how much can be achieved with minimal forms. Elegant, legible and downright beautiful, the Max Bill watches, from the 35mm manual to the 40mm Chronoscope Chronographs, are near perfect watches. Prices range from $850 – $2400 For more info on the Max Bill watches, check out this article on Revo Online
Stowa’s been around in one form or another since the early 20th century, and as such, is one of the few brands that made Bauhaus style watches back in the 30’s. Jorg Schauer, the brand’s current owner, has revived the classic design in the Antea series. With slim, elongated numerals rotating around the index, thin stick hands and a case that is simply a cylinder with flat plates as lugs, the Antea has all of the trappings of a classic Bauhaus watch. Available with black or silver dials, having seen these watches in person, the silver dial is especially interesting. Prices range from $830 – $1,350
What sets Nomos apart is the refinement of their designs, their in-house capabilities and the accessible price point they maintain for a genuine manufacture. From their simple hand wound models to their innovative world time indicators, they are pushing the Bauhaus aesthetic into new and interesting territory. And while their designs range widely from the classic Tangente/Tangomat series to the material driven Orion, to the robust and sophisticated Zurich, there is a constant thread that could likely be traced to “form follows function”. $1,450 – $5,760 For more Nomos, check out our review of the Club and Club Dunkel
by Zach Weiss