November 23, 2023
Variations on a Theme: Exploring the Never-ending Allure of Music and Time with Guitarist Tom Laskey and the NOMOS Glashütte Tangente
in partnership with

When most people hear the phrase ‘professional musician,’ their brains conjure images of bright lights, big stages, and screaming crowds. But the reality of how your favorite songs came to be and how your next favorite song will reach your ears is decidedly more complicated and interesting than that. We explore ‘variations on a theme’ with guitarist Tom Laskey and a trio of NOMOS Glashütte Tangentes, each expressing a slightly different riff on the same playful, yet purposeful melody.

Tangente Neomatik 41 Update

To deliver a hit, a group of talented, hardworking musicians spend countless hours in dimly lit studios experimenting and iterating, bringing all of their knowledge and skills to the table over and over again, finally discovering the right combination of elements. The same is true of the designers and watchmakers that bring each NOMOS Glashütte watch to life. This spirit of collaboration, repetition, and reinvention is what allows the same basic elements to become a fresh, surprising song or a new and distinctive watch.

Tom Laskey is a professional guitar player living and working in North Hollywood, Los Angeles. He is an in-house session guitarist at One On One Studios, famous for being the one-time home of LA rock bands like Metallica and Mötley Crüe, as well as gospel and R&B singers like Aretha Franklin and Etta James. He draws inspiration from that illustrious past as he works to bring fresh ideas and his own personality to the tracks he plays on today. 

This resonates perfectly with a watchmaker like NOMOS Glashütte, which is no stranger to storied legacies and blazing new paths. And, like music, watch design has a strong foundational language that marries form and function. For NOMOS Glashütte, the Tangente is where the brand started and within that archetype there are countless ways the brand can riff and reinvent itself.

We think about watches in much the same way—there is a language to strong horological design that marries form and function in ways that are fresh and exciting, but rooted in ideas that we all understand. For NOMOS Glashütte, the Tangente is where the brand started and it continues to be a sort of language unto itself, within which the brand can riff and reinvent itself. The Tangente Neomatik 41 Update is one of the strongest examples of this—it takes the familiar Bauhaus aesthetic of Tangente and adds a functional, yet playful, date complication around the dial’s perimeter, all powered by an in-house caliber that shows off the brand’s technical abilities. It’s equal parts prose and poetry.

"I started going to these blues jam nights at a club in my town. Nothing big,” Laskey reflects. “But by being in a performance setting once a week at 14, surrounded by guys in their 50s, and having to learn to improvise like that—it taught me to speak the language of music. It gave me a vocabulary. Now I can be kind of a chameleon."

The idea of having to learn a set of rules before learning how to break them is something of a cliché, but there’s truth to it as well. For Laskey, this mentality has always been a part of his approach. And for NOMOS, it is in the brand’s very DNA, emerging as a new voice in a historic watchmaking town, sampling elements of the past as a way to create the future. And, in time, the design language of the Tangente has become an icon in its own right, establishing a new baseline for future experimentation.

“The more you develop, you get to a place where it starts to feel amorphous—every time you break a rule, you change another rule to make it all make sense together,” Lasky goes on to say. “I enjoy that process—that contextualization—and figuring out my own rules.”

And he’s always figuring new things out. He’s in the studio day-in and day-out, always practicing and working on new things, refining his skills and expanding his musical vocabulary. Some days that means rehearsing for a particular gig with a group of players, some days it means giving lessons to other musicians, and some days it’s about composing and preparing for late night studio sessions. But whatever his schedule looks like, having a watch on-wrist that inspires creativity, while accurately helping him make all his appointments is a must.

The original Tangente embodies this spirit to a T. It is the foundation, the main theme, on which all other Tangente variations—and, in fact, the NOMOS brand—are built. Its 35mm case is modest in dimensions but makes an outsized impression, with small details like the tempered blue steel hand and the circular-grained sub-dial. The in-house Alpha caliber, visible through the sapphire caseback, provides outstanding performance and invites you to pause for a moment every-other day to give the watch a wind.

Tangente 39 Neomatik Blue Gold

“I like to think about time as being elastic,” says Laskey when asked about the role time plays in music for him. “And that can be ‘clock’ time or ‘rhythmic’ time. Sometimes when you’re in a windowless recording studio and you’re deep in a session without a cell phone in sight, your watch is the only thing that can tell you 12 or 13 hours have passed. All of the sudden, it’s 2 AM, and you didn’t realize it. Mechanical timekeeping is very different from rhythmic time—no human musician is a metronome. There’s a sort of ebb and flow to the rhythms of a recording session. It’s a very human thing that can bend and contract time, making an accurate watch an invaluable tool while recording.”

And it’s these nuances that Laskey is most excited to explore. Whether they come in a recording session at One On One or on stage at Federal in North Hollywood, one of the LA clubs he frequently plays, there’s an element of “deep practice” to it for him. There’s a maturity that comes, over time, to realizing that there are moments to experiment and moments to rely on instinct. This almost meditative approach is evident in the Tangente 39 Neomatik Blue Gold too.

The Tangente 39 Neomatik Blue Gold has all the hallmarks of that original Tangente, but with its own unique nuances. The rich blue sunburst dial is allowed to shine, without the steel hands and silver numerals stealing any of the attention. And, discreetly tucked under the hood, is the in-house DUW 3001 caliber, thin enough to keep the watch slim on the wrist, but with automatic winding for practicality. It is NOMOS confidently expressing itself, equal parts classic and contemporary.

“Trusting yourself is super important,” says Laskey, when asked about the keys to success and finding your own individual voice as an artist. “That’s what the practice is for. You try to get so deep into it that it becomes muscle memory, it becomes automatic. On stage, you always think you have way more time than you do, so you’ve got to just get up there, forget everything, get out of your own head, and go for it.” This is a perfect metaphor for the creative process at NOMOS Glashütte. After each variation, the trust builds and they confidently continue to craft iterations on their original theme that each strike a slightly different note, but it’s the trust that NOMOS has in its own language of design that makes each one special. 

Like many of Laskey’s favorite tunes, the Tangente, in its many forms, is a study in theme, harmony, variation, and voice. Its signature elements, from the architectural case to the distinctive Bauhaus numerals, form a solid, instantly-recognizable refrain on which NOMOS can explore. As seen in the examples featured here, it’s clear that the brand can then bring different expressions, harmonies, and attitudes to the collection—all while keeping in step with the Tangente’s original melody.

Written by
Stephen Pulvirent,
Rime & Reason

Photography by
Stephen Pulvirent,
Rime & Reason

Produced by
Kat Shoulders
Kyle Snarr

in partnership with
November 23, 2023