NOMOS Glashütte, based in the mountains on the Eastern border of Germany and the Czech Republic, is one of the watchmakers in the small town considered the home of German watchmaking. Of the handful of brands making watches in Glashütte, only three are true manufactures at the time of this writing (which means they design and produce at least one full caliber in-house): A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original and NOMOS Glashütte.
All three brands make superb watches, with beautifully finished German movements, however, only NOMOS Glashütte makes them at accessible prices. In fact, with prices starting in the thousand dollar range, NOMOS Glashütte makes some of the best priced manufacture based watches on the planet. Previously, some of their pieces utilized base calibers, but as of 2005 — everything is in-house.
NOMOS Glashütte’s latest model, the Orion 38 grau, is a new 38 mm diameter version of their popular Orion model, which currently only comes in (33 mm and 35 mm variants).
The Orion is a sleek, elegant time only wristwatch, now with a new diameter and a very attractive gray dial (“Grau” means “gray” in German). The clutter free dial is perfectly contrasted by polished rhodium-plated baton hour markers — and hour, minute and small seconds hands.
The bigger diameter allowed designers to make the Orion appear more modern and flat on the wrist. Inside, visible through the sapphire crystal, is the brand’s original in-house movement, the Alpha. The Alpha caliber is a 17-jewel manually wound movement, with a 43-hour power reserve. The finishing is quite good, it features Glashütte ribbing (which is the German version of Geneva stripes) on the bridges, NOMOS perlage on the mainplate and Glashütte sunburst finishing on the ratchet and crown wheel. It also features tempered blue screws and has been adjusted in six positions for precision.
The fully polished stainless steel case is thin, at 8.86 mm (the 35 mm Orion is 8.45 mm with a sapphire case back). There are domed sapphire crystals, front and back. The spacing at the lugs is 19 mm, and the lugs are pierced, which makes it very easy to change the strap. Although, considering this comes on a very durable black Horween cordovan strap, changing it may not be needed for many years.
NOMOS Glashütte makes amazing watches for the money, and the new Orion 38 grau which will be launched at Baselworld next week, and available shortly thereafter (May), is no exception. The look of the dial is clean, elegant and easy to read. The polished hands, markers and case give the otherwise understated design, a luxurious feel.
Not to mention the beautifully finished Alpha movement, which is just awesome. Especially the sunburst finish on the ratchet and crown wheels. Moreover, at $2,440 — you’d be hard pressed to find anything of this quality and that has an in-house movement — for less. (Ref. 383)