Review: Nomos Tangente Sport

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When I think of Nomos, elegant, minimal watches in the 35 to 39mm range come to mind. Watches that are rich in detail, yet modest in attitude and timeless in style. Watches meant for people – well, like me. People with an affinity for design, an appreciation of mechanical watches, and needs that don’t really go beyond the modern urban experience. To qualify this last statement, I mean watches that are meant to be worn to the office, but aren’t too fussy to be worn to a beer garden. Watches that look great with jeans, and with formal attire too. Watches that aren’t rugged like a dive or tool watch, but don’t need special care either. With watches being sorted into more and more sub-categories, it’s easy to forget that the everyday watch was once a simple thing. Nomos watches are the modern version of that idea.

So in 2019 when, at Basel World, Nomos released a series of 42mm “sports” versions of their Tangente and Club watches with 1000ft water resistances that built on already ever-increasing diameters, I was a bit perplexed, and frankly disappointed (something I didn’t hide in our podcast.) To be fair, the watches themselves were attractive, as all Nomoses are, but I didn’t get the why. Why is this brand I associate with subtle, sophisticated, design-driven watches playing the diameter and depth game? If it’s because they are trying to satisfy customer demand, which is entirely plausible, then why not develop a new line, rather than inflate the Tangente and Club once again? I mean, at 42mm with 1000ft (or 300m) water resistance, you’re in modern dive watch territory, and who doesn’t want to see what Nomos would do with a bezel?

36mm club vs 42mm Tangente Sport

There was another issue, and that was the price. While Nomos has never made “cheap” watches, part of their appeal always was the value they offered. Starting around $1,500, you could get into Nomos’ in-house horology with a hand-cranked Club (that’s what I did), and then make your way if you chose to the top-tier Zürich Weltzeit, an automatic worldtimer for (now) just over $6,000. Over the years, their watches have slowly but surely crept up in price, which has coincided with the development of their thin in-house “neomatik” calibers, but with these new sports watches, they lept. At $4,980, the Tangent Sport is now officially quite expensive, and compared with the competition that has popped up over the last few years, I’m looking at you Black Bay 58, of less clear value.

But that was 2019, and now, a year later, I’ve cooled off and decided that I should put my assumptions aside, and actually try one of these watches out. After all, the designers at Nomos are very talented, and up to this point, I don’t think I’ve tried a Nomos that hasn’t charmed me in the end. So, I’ve strapped one on – well buckled the new bracelet to be exact (more on that later) – and wore it for a few weeks. What do I think now? Read on.

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$4980

Review: Nomos Tangente Sport

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
DUW6101
Dial
Pale silver
Lume
Yes
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Bracelet
Water Resistance
1000ft
Dimensions
42 x 52.6mm
Thickness
11.2mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
screw-down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$4980

Case

I’m going to start with a point of confusion. Several years ago, Nomos released the highly regarded Ahoi collection. A sporty take on the Tangente model (sound familiar?), the Ahoi boasted 200m of water resistance, a 40mm case based on the classic Bauhaus design, and extra lume. Since then they’ve added colors to the line, and once the Neomatik movement became readily available, a smaller 36mm model, still with 200m water resistance. While the Tangente and the Ahoi share significant design DNA, the Ahoi had one feature that easily distinguished it apart and signified its sportier intentions – crown guards. Seemingly welded to the right side of the case was a piece of steel that ramped on both sides, giving the crown some suggestion of added protection – you know, for sports.

The crown guards in question

So why do I bring this up? Well, I can’t tell you why this is a Tangente model and not an Ahoi model. The similarities continue to the dial as well. This isn’t necessarily relevant to the case design, so much as branding, but it is confusing. That’s not even taking into account that there are now Tangentes at 33, 35, 37.5 (called 38), 38.5 (called 39), 40.5 (called 41), and 42mm!

Nevertheless, the Tangente Sport features the same basic case design as others in the collection, though sized up and reengineered for more water resistance. At 42 x 52.6 x 11.2mm (to the top of a very wide domed sapphire) this is a big watch. Sure, 42mm isn’t a huge diameter, but this is an “all-dial” design, so it wears larger than its diameter suggests. At 35mm and other smaller diameters, it gives the Tangente an unexpected amount of wrist presence. At 42mm, it dominates the wrist.

The signature kinked lugs
clean cylindrical mid-case
the crown from above

The 52.5mm lugs then extend to the very edges of my wrist. Because they stick straight out of the case before kinking over, they also feel quite high and frankly a bit precarious, like they could get caught on something as I pass by. While this harsh style works on a smaller case, here it feels a bit dangerous.

In terms of thickness, 11.2mm to the top of the sapphire is well proportioned for the width. Sure, the watch uses a notable thin movement at 3.2mm, but had this watch been much thinner, it could have felt too flat, and perhaps fragile. Plus, it does have the “sports” moniker which if nothing else would suggest some greater bulk, and at 300m likely needed it as well.

A gorgeous view, but should it be solid?

This is all to say that, yes, the Tangente Sport is indeed a large watch, and I’m not sure if it works as one. Throwing out what I expect from the brand, who really cares anyway, when a case is designed to function at 33, or 35, or even 38.5, it doesn’t necessarily work at 42mm because the proportions just scale up. While the mid-case is just a cylinder, which would work at any diameter, it’s the lugs that really cause an issue here. Unless you scale the wrist the watch is meant to go on proportionally, they just aren’t meant for large watches. They are blunt and harsh, which gives them a distinct and appealing look, but an equally distinct lack of ergonomics.

Flipping the watch over, the underside features a large diameter display window showing off the DUW6101 caliber inside. It’s a great looking movement and considering that it’s in-house and fully decorated not surprising that they’d want to show it off. That said, when you build a watch that boasts water resistance (even if not exceptionally high) a solid case-back would be more reassuring.

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Dial

The upside to a larger case with an all-dial design is, well, a lot of dial. With an aperture diameter of 38.5mm, there really is a lot of it to enjoy, and in true Nomos style, what’s there is very appealing. The dial consists of a single flat surface in pale, near-matte silver, making it look paperwhite at some angles, slightly gray at others, and occasionally even a touch warm as it picks up different light sources. It’s a gorgeous surface that speaks to the level of watchmaking Nomos is known for.

The matte silver dial is really gorgeous

If you’re familiar with the Tangente – or, the Ahoi, rather – the dial markings will come as no surprise. There is an index of large numerals for the even hours in an elegant typeface, alternating with thin, long, black lines. Around the outer edge of the dial is then a minute index with small, thin black lines and square lume plots at intervals of five in a warm, khaki lume (I’m hesitant to call it fauxtina as the watch is not trying to come off as vintage or aged in anyway). An element that used to be exclusive to the Ahoi, the lume plots, which add a pleasant contrast to the otherwise delicate black lines and type, are part of that sporty storyline.

In addition to the indexes, at six you’ll find 1000ft in red, calling out the depth rating the design has achieved. While 1,000 is a large number, it’s in feet and not meters, which is a bit odd to have on its own (and not as impressive as 1000m). Sure, I’m American, so I use feet (unfortunately), but unless you’re from the US, Myanmar, or Liberia (yes, I looked this up) meters is your standard. Perhaps this points to the Nomos’ intentions on making this watch for the US market, or perhaps they thought 1000 was just a much better number than 300. Either way, aesthetically it sits well on the dial and is a nice pop of color.

Bold hands
Big date
The dial really comes together

Just above this type is a large sub-seconds dial. A complication I’m always happy to see, this sub-seconds is quite massive to match the scale of the dial, giving it visual prominence. The sub-dial is stamped down, giving it a clean edge, and has concentric circle graining for a touch of texture. While featuring a stripped-down index, Nomos did fit 15, 30, 45, and 60 numerals in, giving it a technical and sporty look fitting with the theme.

At three is a date window that suits the watch rather well. While not a necessity on a sports watch, I think it was a good choice to include here as the large dial can take complications without seeming busy. Because of the DUW6101’s design, the date is also quite large and far away from the center of the dial, once again working with the watch’s overall size.

Not quite dive watch lume, but more than most Nomoses

For the hour and minute hands Nomos once again borrowed from the Ahoi, utilizing its larger, lumeier, format for obvious legibility reasons. An appealing design, the hands have a monolith shape that allows for generous lume fill that glows well. Rather than matching with the khaki lume from the dial, here it’s a pale teal that adds a cool and attractive new color to the dial. Combined with the matte silver surface, warm lume plots, and that singular hint of red, the dial has a light and refreshing look that speaks to it being a warm weather watch meant to take in the water.

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Movement

The Nomos DUW6101 is the date version of their in-house Neomatik movement. A 27-jewel automatic, it features hand-winding, a date that can be set forwards or backward, hacking, a power reserve of 42 hours, and a frequency of 21,600bph. As one of Nomos’ newer movements (and one with a DUW designation) it also features their “swing system” or in-house escapement. While thin at 3.6mm, it features a wide date that is intended for use in watches 40mm and up, hence why it works on the 42mm Tangente Sport. As seen through the case-back, the DUW6101 has a classic ¾ Glashütte plate design with a full bridge balance, a skeletonized rotor with raised gold text, striping, perlage and blue screws throughout.

Bracelet

The Tangente and Club Sport models were the first Nomos watches to feature a new bracelet design (following the Club 39 Neomatiks, which were the first with bracelets in general, but a different style). A curious design, the bracelet consists of a series of relatively thin brushed links that mesh within each other, allowing for a very clean, modern, slatted appearance. The thinness of the links also allows for the bracelet to conform nicely to the wrist. Each link is horizontally brushed along its top surface with a very fine and attractive grain. It features solid end-links that do not integrate with the watch head, suggesting a sort of universal fit for their watches (though they don’t offer it separately). The bracelet is closed with a polished clasp with side buttons and three points of micro-adjustment that has a clean and distinctly “Nomos” look.

The brushing is top-notch
Tiny screws, and lots of them

Taken separately from the watch first, it’s a great looking bracelet. It’s unlike most designs, sharing some visual similarities with Autodromo and ‘80s Giugiaro Seikos, having a distinctly modern and minimal look. I did find it wore a bit odd though. First off, it’s a bit tricky to size for a couple of reasons. Physically, changing the links is easy. Each has two small screws accessible from the underside of the watch. Though exceptionally easy to drop and lose into the oblivion of your floor (sorry Nomos, we’re one short now), they are easy enough to take out with a steady hand. Once removed, the links just slide out. No pins or bars to fuss around with. Reverse this process to put back together.

The challenge is getting the bracelet balanced correctly. On my first try I had one side very off, as I had to remove more links than usual, since they are so thin. I adjusted the sides to even them out, but then found that this wasn’t quite right either. In actuality, you want the clasp to be closer to the inside of your wrist by making the side under six shorter. This allows for the internal portion of the clasp to sit centered and fully under your wrist. If I were a customer, I’d definitely recommend having this whole process done by an AD.

polished might not be the best choice

On the watch, I can’t really decide how I feel about it. It’s certainly not offensive, but I’m not sure if it quite clicks either. The case is fully polished, the bracelet is mostly brushed, so there’s a bit of discord there. And while the Tangente, particularly this version, doesn’t necessarily speak directly to Bauhaus designs from the late ‘20 and ‘30s, the lineage is there, yet the bracelet is quite modern. When I look at it, I just don’t go “wow, that really works.” Moreover, as a metal option, I don’t think it’s a better option than mesh, which Nomos oddly doesn’t offer. So, there’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s actually a very cool bracelet in its own right, I just don’t think it’s a perfect match for the Tangente design.

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Wearability

Well, all roads have led here – how it wears on the wrist. As you’ve likely guessed, the Tangente Sport wears large on a 7” wrist, though it’s not intolerable. 42mm is actually not that big, all things considered, but as pointed out, it’s an all-dial 42mm with a very long lug-to-lug of 52.6mm, which changes things. For comparison, the Tudor Pelagos is also a 42mm watch, but it has a 32.25mm dial aperture and 50mm lug-to-lug, so a more compact overall feel. Between the two dimensions, I’d actually say the lug-to-lug is the bigger offender.

The big dial is sexy, but those lugs are a liability

Yes, the dial is huge and appears plate-like, but it’s also quite attractive and well balanced in its own right. Nomos got the various elements, such as the type spot-on, which includes the wide-set date, which is a rare feature. So while perhaps disproportionate to my wrist, or at least the way I expect a watch to look on my wrist, what’s there is very pleasant to look at. The long lugs, on the other hand, just seem harsh, and jagged. In fact, they conflict with the appealing soft, light tones of the dial. While I doubt other enthusiasts and Nomos fans would agree with me, I wish they had made this a lugless watch.

Conclusion

After a year of cooling off, I have to say that my initial reaction to the Tangente Sport still holds. It’s a Nomos, so it’s gorgeous and well-made, but I question if it should have been made in the first place. The Tangente/Ahoi case design works up to a certain point, and then it loses its charm. The appealing blunt Bauhaus aesthetic eventually just borders on dangerous. Sure, you can say that you just need a bigger wrist, but I really think that a brand that is as design-savvy as Nomos should be able to design something that is 42mm, and meant to be 42mm.

Furthermore, if their goal is to make 300m watches that are really intended for sport and recreational use, they should design around those activities, not just retrofit existing designs to get there. The Ahoi essentially already was this, but it kept the quirky charm Nomos was known for. It wasn’t really meant to be a deep-diving watch or a tool watch, so much as a Nomos that you didn’t have to worry about. Basically, a vacation version of the Tangente. With 200m of water resistance, the Ahoi is also plenty good at keeping water out, so is another 100m really necessary?

It might be big, but it is very attractive

Look, I get it. This review has probably come off kind of harsh, and you’re sitting there thinking, man what a bummer. So, I want to end on a positive note. While this watch didn’t work for me or my wrist, that doesn’t mean it won’t work on everyone’s. It’s very likely there are large-wristed folks out there who have been eagerly awaiting a Nomos for them, and this very well might be it. Sure, Nomos decided to couch a larger size in a sporty concept, but ultimately, it’s a bigger, bolder Tangente/Ahoi. It’s every bit as attractive as the smaller models, has more lume than them (something Nomos’ typically lack), and a unique, refreshing palette. Yes, it comes at a steep premium of nearly $5k, but at least it’s an option now. Nomos

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst 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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