Nomos Minimatik Review

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There are few brands that nearly all watch collectors seem to agree on these days. Seiko is one, perhaps Rolex, or at least vintage Rolex, is another. Nomos, surprisingly, is also a candidate. I say surprisingly because Nomos doesn’t look or act like other watch brands. They don’t make big sports watches, they are relatively young, they have no celebrity ambassadors (at least that I am aware of) and their watches are, well, strange at times. More and more Nomos has pursued an aesthetic that runs counter to industry standards, working with young industrial designs to define a modern and forward thinking aesthetic.

NOMOS_MINIMATIK_GROUP_1In 2015 Nomos announced a new line of watches that coincided with their release of a new caliber. The Minimatiks were small, svelte watches designed in the aesthetic spirit of the Metro line that was clearly a big success. Inside, Nomos’ new 3.2mm thin, fully German-made automatic movement, the caliber DUW 3001, was ticking away, keeping time. The watch was refreshing, though at the time was overshadowed by the debut of the new caliber, which is understandable as it’s not everyday that a brand releases a new thin automatic that is relatively affordable.

Since then, Nomos has put the new movement in most of the watches across their line (anything with “neomatik” on the dial) as well as released new exciting colors for all of them, including the Minimatik. Currently available in Silver/Classic, Nachtblau and Champagner, the Minimatik is a bit of a sleeper in Nomos’ current line, but one worth closer inspection. It has perhaps their most elegant case design to date, and a dial that is deceptively complex. With a price tag of $3,680 for the Silver/Classic and $3,800 for the Nachtblau and Champagner, the Minimatiks are accessible luxury watches, that while an investment are a very unique, high-end offering.

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$3680

Nomos Minimatik Review

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
DUW 3001
Dial
Silver, Nachtblau, Champagner
Lume
N/A
Lens
Domed Sapphire
Strap
Cordovan or Leather
Water Resistance
3ATM
Dimensions
33.5 x 42.3mm
Thickness
9mm
Lug Width
17mm
Crown
push-pull
Warranty
yes
Price
$3680

Case

The case of the Minimatik is a study in modern watch design. It speaks to classic watch lines and proportions, let’s say those of the 50’s and 60’s, but has a thoroughly contemporary feel. The most obvious aspect of the Minimatik is that it’s small and thin, well at least by today’s standards. At 35.5 x 42.3 x 9mm (to the top of the domed sapphire), it’s likely smaller than most modern watches sitting in your collection right now (well, unless you have other Nomoses). Though it probably would look right at home next to some vintage Omega Seamasters, Universal Genève Polerouters or Rolex/Tudor Datejusts.

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From above, the case is designed to really emphasize the dial, featuring a thin bezel and small, contouring lugs. It actually has a fairly classic shape from above, perhaps more so than other Nomoses like the Club, Orion and Metro. One detail that irks many about the Club and Orion specifically that you wont find on the Minimatik (though not something that I’ve found to be an issue) is the relatively long lugs. The 42.3mm lug-to-lug is actually quite tight to the case, further bringing attention to the dial. A cool detail of the Minimatik’s lugs is that they actually taper in towards the 17mm(!) lug width. It’s a very subtle change, but adds some motion to the design.

The complexity of the design is revealed from the side, which has a typical three-part construction: bezel, midcase and caseback. However, the way the bezel and midcase integrate is interesting. The bezel actually sits down, under the lugs, creating a cool cutout detail. The midcase then, while at glance appearing flat, actually has a subtle rounding to it, giving it a softer look and feel. The midcase and bezel then both flare out, getting wider towards the top of the watch, leading to a sizable domed sapphire crystal.

Everything flows together smoothly, giving the watch a very clean and elegant overall shape and overall modern sensibility. The fact that the watch is an automatic and has a large domed crystal, but still remains 9mm, is also an impressive feat. One downside of the sapphire, however, is that it’s quite reflective. This is particularly noticeable on the Nachtblau model as the surface is darker.

Flipping the watch over, you have a snap-on case back with a large display window. On the rounded steel border you only have one etched detail, the name of the watch and a reference number. This puts all of the attention on the DUW 3001 in-house automatic caliber, which is a nice looking movement. The display window seems large, because the watch itself is small, but it does allow for a very complete view of the movement. Interestingly, though the DUW 3001 is quite thin at 3.2mm, it’s a bit wider than an ETA 2824 at 28.8mm vs 25.6mm. So, the movement itself actually looks quite big.

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The entire case of the Minimatik is polished, which seems to be Nomos’ default finish. It works on the case and design, though some play of finishing would be nice, and would further emphasize some of the interesting design elements of the case. For example, the side of the bezel could be brushed, which would bring out the detailing of the case sides. Or, the tops of the lugs could be brushed, further highlighting the dial.

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Dial

The dial of the Minimatik, which comes in three flavors, continues Nomos’ trend towards more contemporary and unique designs that started with the Metro. It’s a curious design too, one with a slightly abnormal vocabulary of forms and a playful use of color. I’ll go into each colorway separately, first giving a general overview of the design. Each consists of a main surface which is flat, save an indented sub-dial at six. The hours index consists of large arabic numerals for the even hours, save six, and small dots for the odd. The numerals and dots contrast each other creating a rhythm of large and small forms that, in the end, brings ones’ eyes to the numerals.

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Surrounding the hour index is a minute index consisting just of dots. At intervals of five are slightly larger dots in gold, while the individual minutes are in a contrasts color that varies per dial. The gold dots are a point of interest, as they are actually small indented markers with a slightly beveled shape. They add a bit of texture to the dial and sort of cause the eye to pause, as the sudden point metallic sheen breaks up the color surrounding them.

The small seconds sub-dial at six, which while not specifically unique to Nomos, is found on every Nomos model. Here, the feature is deeply inset into the main surface and sized to take up just the right amount of negative space at six. The seconds index itself is very simple, just consisting of small dashes per every five seconds. Just below the sub-dial is an orange dot that fills the gap where there would have been a cutoff six. It’s orange on all three dials. It’s kind of a mysterious detail that while I can’t pin a function to, I enjoy for its peculiarity.

The hour and minute hands continue the somewhat playful theme with a different, but non-confrontational shape. Both are thin sticks without counterweights that taper slightly towards their tips. They smoothly flow into a wider area about the central axis, giving them a sleek, modern look. The sub-seconds hand is then a traditional thin stick with a small counter weight.

The three colors of the Minimatik are Silver (actually self-titled would be more apt), Champagner and Nachtblau. The Silver is easiest to think of (well, for me at least) as silver given the dial surface, but in reality they just refer to it as “Minimatik” without a color designation.

Silver/Classic

Moving on, the main surface is a pale galvanized white silver with a very slight texture to it. It’s neither matte nor gloss, though it is closer to matte. Most Nomoses come in a variant with a dial like this and it’s a particularly nice silver. It’s white at times, steely gray at others. The hour index is then printed in charcoal gray. It’s dark, but not so dark that it would read as black, instead having a softer feel.

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The individual minute markers are then a surprising choice: cyan. Because of their size, at a glance they almost read as black, but up close the bright blue color comes through. It’s surprising because it seems to come from nowhere. It’s not a typical watch color, especially on something relatively reserved. But, that’s sort of the magic of Nomos. They pull stuff like that off. The end effect is totally palatable, giving the watch just a bit more personality. For hands, all three on the silver are a dark, waxy red. It’s a gorgeous color and once again a bit of a surprising choice. Colored hands tend to be more casual or even sporty at times, but here it works very well, adding contrast and not taking away from the more formal qualities of the watch.

Champagner

The Champagner is a warm and somewhat more feminine variant of the Neomatik. The main surface is a pale gold that closely resemble that of champagne, hence the name. In person, it’s less rosy than in the images on Nomos’ website. Rather, it’s much like the silver dial, but with a noticeable beige warmth to it. The hour index is then the same charcoal gray that is found on the silver.

The minute index takes an interesting turn once again. You have the same gold markers, but rather than cyan, the individual minutes are bright, near fluorescent orange. This emphasizes the warmth of the champagne surface as well as diminishes the overall presence of the dots, putting most of the emphasis into the dark hour index. Like the cyan, it’s just generally an odd and interesting choice. One might expect given the gold tone of the dial and more formal overall feeling of that colorway that they would go conservative with color choices. Not the case, and once again it works, albeit with a feminine result.

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For hands, the Champagner’s hour and minute are polished steel. This goes towards that more elegant and formal leaning of this colorway. To contrast that however, the sub-seconds hand is the same fluorescent orange as the minute index. It really stands out. This is as bright as orange gets, the type of thing you typically only find on sport watches. It’s a surprising shock of color that might turn off some, but adds a lot of personality.

Once last thing worth noting about the Champagner as well as the Silver models is that the sub-dial features circular graining as well as a beveled edge. This is particularly pronounced on the Champagner model as the bevel appears to have a slightly more polished finish.

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Nachtblau

The Nachtblau takes the Minimatik into different, darker territory. Rather than a galvanized metallic surface, it’s coated in an inky matte blue color. It’s about as dark as a blue can get while still reading as blue, rather than black. In fact, depending on the light, it can look black. The hour index takes an interesting turn on this one, using matte beige instead of gray. Obviously, the lighter color stands out better against the dark surface, but the beige isn’t nearly as bright or high contrast as white. Rather, it has a softer feel to it and brings a subtle warmth into the palette and plays off of the gold minute markers.

The individual minute markers as well as the five-second marks on the sub-dial are then bright cyan again. It’s hard to tell if it’s the same cyan as found on the silver, since the darker surface makes the color look much more piercing. The cyan also feels like a logical choice for contrast, accenting the blue tones of the surface below.

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For hands, the hour and minute are polished steel. I go back and forth on whether this works. Polished steel, and other “mirrored” surfaces can often seem dark depending on what they are reflecting. Because of this, at times the hands are lost against the blue surface. The glare from the crystal doesn’t help with this either. Conversely, the sub-seconds hand is fluorescent orange again, which stands out against the dark surface like a torch. On one hand, it’s an exciting detail, interrupting the otherwise dense, dark surroundings that simply looks cool. On the other… it’s interrupting, and draws a lot of focus to an ultimately non-essential function. I like it, but I do wish it had been more balanced with the hour and minute hands.

Ultimately, the Silver takes the gold for me, so to speak. I wore all three (well, the Silver and Nachtblau more than the Champagner) quite a bit, and the balance of playfulness and legibility in all conditions made the Silver my all around favorite. The Nachtblau is still gorgeous and very enjoyable to wear, but it felt more like a watch for going out at night, than an everyday design. The Champagner has a distinct charm as well, but at least on the accompanying strap, just felt to warm for my tastes and attire.

Movement

The Minimatik features Nomos’ new DUW 3001 movement. This movement is a big deal for the brand as it marks a new era for their automatic watches, and I expect will eventually completely replace their older automatics. First announced at Basel World 2015, the DUW 3001 took 3 years and 2.5 million Euros to develop. The biggest feature they touted was the fact that it is quite thin at 3.2mm. For comparison an ETA 2824-2 is 4.6mm, a Miyota 9015 is 3.9mm, a 2892A2 is 3.6mm as is a Soprod M100. Thinner than the DUW 3001 you have the luxe Vaucher SEED VMF 5401 at 2.6mm, but that has a micro-rotor (and costs something like 1700 Euros for the movement alone).

Thickness ins’t the only feature worth touting, the DUW 3001 featured Nomos’ “swing-system”, aka their in-house escapement making it 100% German. Most of Nomos’ movements have now been transitioned to using the swing system, but the DUW 3001 has used it since creation. Just as an aside, while the Swing-system is an achievement for the brand in manufacturing and independence from the Swiss, it doesn’t unto itself change the functionality or accuracy of the movement. It is, in fact, a very traditional escapement, just manufactured in Germany.

NOMOS DUW3001 lang eng from NOMOS Glashütte on Vimeo.

The above video, which I highly recommend watching, features Nomos engineer Theodor Prenzel talking a bit more about the DUW 3001. He highlights some interesting facts about the construction, such as the fact that the majority of the workings are sandwiched between two plates (the base plate and the Glashütte 3/4 plate) in a 1mm gap. He also discusses how new materials were used for certain components to increase efficiency and accuracy as well as the fact that the DUW 3001 is chronometer rating capable. Then there is a very curious feature, when the watch is fully wound the rotor actually locks in place to prevent putting more energy into the system. Lastly, he mentions something interesting, which is that the movement is designed to be mass manufactured. This seems obvious, but is also important.

As for the details, the DUW 3001 is a 27-jewel automatic with bi-directional winding, hacking, hand winding, 42-hour power reserve, a frequency of 21,600 bph and has been adjusted in 6 positions. Visually, the DUW 3001 is relatively simple in appearance and features some pleasant finishing. The movements consists of a wide base plate with perlage graining that is finer under the balance wheel. On top of this is the Glashütte 3/4 plate (which in this instance seems to be more like a 4/4 plate) that has a smaller circumference than the plate below, creating a sort of gutter. The 3/4 plate is then fully striped with Glashütte Ribbing (Cote de Genève). In what I believe is a first for the brand, the balance is then mounted on a full bridge, which are said to provide additional shock protection. There are blued screws throughout both plates. Lastly, there is a skeletonized rotor with Glashütte Ribbing. It’s very thin, with most of the mass sitting in the gutter area around the 3/4 plate.

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I happen to like the design, even if most of the actual mechanism is hidden. It’s just very clean looking, putting an emphasis on the ribbing, which has a cool effect when the rotor and plate line up. The use of the full bridge for the balance then creates a sort of “complete” look to the movement overall. Sure, there are more exciting looking movements out there, but this one is still enjoyable to see and nicely decorated over all.

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Straps and Wearability

Nomos watches are known for coming on particularly nice straps made of Horween Shell Cordovan. Two of the Minimatiks come on shell, though a different style of strap than what I’ve previously seen from Nomos, while the third, the Champagner, comes on a vegetable tanned calf leather in the same style. The strap is 17mm, which is obviously a bit annoying, but Nomos does sell them for $140 should you need to replace, though only in one color. The style of strap is called “remborde” and features a slight taper, rolled and folded edges and a rounded tip. It also seems to have some padding (could be an additional layer of cordovan) and is backed with cordovan backing. It’s also fitted with Nomos’ new “winged clasp”, which is a double sided tang that acts as both buckle and keeper. It’s an attractive addition to the strap. Overall, the straps are very nice and very well made, though I’m not sure if I like the fussier style over a more classic strap. The use of padding actually takes away from the naturally soft, supple fell of the cordovan.

On the wrist the Minimatik wears beautifully. I’m a confessed fan of smaller watches, so this really hits the spot. At 35.5mm, it’s well positioned on the wrist, but given that it’s “all-dial” it still has a lot of presence. At no point when looking at my wrist, did I think it looked small. It’s then a very svelte and sleek watch. The case is really defined by elegant contours and curves as seen in the tapering sides and domed sapphire crystal. It slips under your shirt sleeve without notice and is so light that I honestly at times forgot I was wearing it.

Aesthetically, it should be clear I am a fan of the design. It’s light and fun, but tempered enough to wear in any environment. The silver dial in particular felt like a go anywhere do anything watch. Well, nothing too aggressive or water-related, but for my fairly status quo life of going to the office, meetings around NYC, restaurants and bars with friends and colleagues, it fit right in. It’s very much like the Club and Metro in that way, but simply has a different and more modern feel.

Conclusion

The Minimatik is a watch that reveals itself slowly. At first glance it might seem like a simple modern design; friendly, attractive but superficial. Through wearing it, especially in its various palettes, you get the sense that it’s much more. It’s simplicity is actually modesty and quiet sophistication, seen in subtle detailing and exacting proportions. The aesthetic is approachable and inviting, but mature and restrained. It balances a playfulness found in surprising color choices with understated ingredients. Ultimately, it’s exactly what a modern, versatile everyday watch should be. It has the fun personality needed to reflect your own style, but the poise required for more serious encounters.

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At $3,680 for the Silver/Classic and $3,800 for the Nachtblau and Champagner models, the Minimatik is obviously an investment, but still relatively reasonable for German-made luxury timepiece with an in-house movement. That doesn’t make the price easier to stomach, but Nomos is uniquely positioned in the market. Honestly, its stiffest competition is from other Nomos watches, as no other brand really has comparable aesthetics. While I don’t understand the premium for the latter two models, $3,680 for the Silver, considering the new very thin automatic movement and overall finishing and style, seems “fair” in the context of what else is out there, even if I wish it cost less. Having worn the watches for a little while, I think it’s a strong candidate for a two-watch collection. You have the Minimatik, and then some well-rounded sports watch or chronograph, depending on your lifestyle. In that context, paying a little more makes sense.


For more info on the Minimatik or to pick one up, visit Nomos-Glashuette.com

Images from this post:
Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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  • Porter Hudson

    I wish someone at Christopher Ward would consult the Nomos typographer lol. IMHO the type is one of the most attractive features of the brand!

  • chenpofu

    Love this watch, and I also like the silver one the most.

    But if I ever have 4k to spend on a wach, I would probably get a Grand Seiko or a 14270.

    • zedzedzed

      Could not agree more. This looks like a terrific watch, and I’d love to own a Nomos some day, but the SBGW031 is out there for like, $3,500.

      • chenpofu

        Ha, SBGW031 was one of the watches I had in mind when I wrote that. There are also many automatic GS in that price range, such as the SBGR051, SBGR061 ….

  • Jason Mirabello

    Wow, expensive

  • gw01

    Hard working brands like NOMOS, who bother to make their own machines, put into perspective the VALUE offering of random cal.39 re-case brands pricing themselves in this segment. BRAVO NOMOS!!!

  • DanW94

    I think Nomos is a great brand that does a lot of things right, (their in-house movement for one) but I’m just not moved by their design ethos. And this one’s simply too small for me at 35mm.

  • Andrew Bryce Pine

    Gary Shteyngart might be an unintentional Nomos ambassador after his piece in the NYer

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/20/confessions-of-a-watch-geek