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一個有趣的錶Nomos Tangente Wempe Limited Edition

Nomos Tangente Wempe Limited Edition

Experience Review

Part I


by Roger Tsai

© September 2004


Ever since the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany, the German watchmaking industry, notably the town of Glashütte within the lower Saxony region, has attracted the attention of watch collectors worldwide with the establishment of brands such as A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original that offered innovative timepieces vis a vis their Swiss counterparts during the past decade. Nomos, the Greek word for regularity and order and the name of the company founded in 1990 by entrepreneur Roland Schwertner, was the first privately-owned watch company to restart watch production in Glashütte.  Despite being located on the same street (Altenberger Straße) as Lange and GO, Nomos chose a very different path than its neighbors. Instead of competing with high-end Swiss brands by developing in-house designed movements,  Nomos decided to utilize  watch resources from Switzerland by choosing Peseux 7001 from ETA as the ébauche for their movements in order to create affordable timepieces available to the general public. 

Tangente, the first model presented by Nomos in the early 1990s, has become an instant design classic to this day. Designed by the German graphics designer Susanne Gunther who got her inspiration through the Bauhaus ideas, the Tangente in my humble opinion became Nomos' brand icon as the Lange 1 for Lange. Since then, through the help of German high-end watch retailers such as Wempe, Nomos slowly but progressively expanded its name throughout Germany and eventually became known among many watch enthusiasts worldwide today. 

Wempe, a Germany-based high-end watch and jewelry retailer with more than 20 stores in 6 countries, celebrated its jubilee anniversary in 2003. Nomos was chosen along with 7 other watch brands to create Wempe's anniversary collection to commemorate this achievement. The Nomos Wempe limited edition was a steel Tangente featuring a 3/4 plate movement with the coat-of-arms or symbol of each city Wempe has a store and the city name printed on the movement. 125 watches was made for each city and an additional 125 gold Tangente was created for the city of Hamburg where Wempe's headquarter is located. The following is the list of the cities and their respective coat-of-arms or symbols in the case a coat-of-arms does not exist for that particular city. 

I was always attracted by the Tangente but unfortunately the 3/4 plate movement was reserved only for the precious metal Nomos models at that time, so upon hearing the news about this particular model I contacted the Wempe store in NYC immediately. Apparently the ones for New York were already sold out, but they still have some others in stock from other cities. So after months of waiting, I finally received the watch pictured above. 

Case, crystal, and crown

The case, measured 35mm in diameter, is made out of 316L stainless steel and consisted of 3 parts, the upper bezel, case-band, and the case back with sapphire see-through back. The case-band along with the lugs are crafted from one single piece of steel to ensure its durability. The case back is engraved "EDELSTAHL GESCHUTZTES MODELL TANGENTE JUBILAUMSUHR 125 JAHRE WEMPE" as well as the individual number out of 125 pieces. The overall case design resembles very closely with some of the early Lange wristwatches from the 30s. Even though the case is water resistant to 30 meters, I am not brave enough to let it be close to anywhere with water. 

Unlike many other watches I own with slightly domed crystals, Nomos chooses a flat crystal to maintain the minimal look of the watch. I am not sure whether the crystal comes with anti-reflective coating on either side of the crystal but I was able to read the watch easily under many different light conditions. 

The crown of the Nomos Tangente is surprisingly big given its diameter. One of the advantages of a big crown for a hand wind watch is the ease of winding, especially when this has to be performed on a daily basis. As shown from the photo above, the word "Nomos" is engraved on the crown. Since the crown is not screwed-down, this is precisely the reason why I try to avoid all contacts with water when I am wearing this watch. 

Dial and hands

Quite different from the publicity photo above which the watch appeared to be a white dial, the color of the dial is actually more closely to silvered white. The dial, presumably made out of brass, is sand-blasted first in order to achieve a matte finish and then a galvanizing process is applied to give its color. This has to be one of the most balanced dials I have ever seen, very simple and understated. Besides the name and the location of the company, nothing extra is being printed on the dial, which I like a lot. The "Made in Germany" words on the bottom of the dial  was a new practice recently adopted by Nomos as a way for people to easily identify the German originality of their watches. Apparently these are the only English words being seen on the watch itself while everything else was written in German. 

In the off-center subsidiary second dial, a circular pattern is being applied to distinguish itself from the rest of the dial. It is quite a nice contrast in my opinion, very subtle design indeed. 

I think the hands of this watch deserve some attention. Instead of simply purchasing them from an outside supplier, Nomos blued these polished baton steel hands in-house by using the traditional way like the following photo suggests. 

As a result, what one sees on the dial are these uniformly-blued hands that are rich in color and natural in appearance. It is nothing fancy but  they reflected the very essence of German watchmaking - all the little details that are pleasant to one's eyes and will proved to be everlasting for the time to come.


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Nomos Tangente Wempe Limited Edition

Experience Review

Part 2


by Roger Tsai

© September 2004


I think it is safe to say that the movement of the Nomos Tangente contributes quite significantly to its massive success over the years. Although the Nomos 1TSP (T for the Triovis fine adjustment, S  for stop-seconds, and P for the 3/4 plate) is based on the ETA Peseux 7001 as its ébauche, but upon reading the following specifications one may understand why Nomos is assigning names to their movements because they have been refined so extensively that they resemble very little with an original Peseux 7001 movement. 

The Nomos 1TSP is measured  23.3mm in diameter and 2.5 mm in height, comes with 17 jewels and composed of 98 individual parts. It is equipped with Nomos' own fracture-proof mainspring with 45 hours of power reserve. A Nivarox 1A balance spring is fitted along with Triovis fine adjustment and Incabloc shock protection beating at 21,600 a/h, being adjusted in 4 positions. The movement surfaces are sand-blasted and then gold-plated while the base plate is treated with Nomos' "Langeleist" circular graining. Following the Glashütte tradition the movement is fitted with a 3/4 plate featuring the Glashütte-style Nomos click, and the ratchet and crown wheel have the traditional Glashütte sunburst pattern applied on them. Last but not the least, the countersunk steel screws are first polished until the heads are flat and then blued in the same manner as the blued hands mentioned before (the entire screw is blued, including the slot). The ratchet and crown screws feature a bright polished finish. What distinguishes this movement from a normal 1TSP is the addition of the red word "Wempe" and the city name with its symbol, which happens to be the Tour Eiffel of Paris in this case.

Out of all the 21 coat-of-arms and symbols offered, in my humble opinion the Tour Eiffel is perhaps the most difficult one to be printed on the movement because this is one out of the only three (the other two being the Statue of Liberty for New York and the coat-of-arms for MS Europa) 3 dimensional objects within the collection. Take a close look at the following photo which shows all the fine lines and details in order to recreate a mini Tour Eiffel standing on top of the movement plate.  

Nomos has made an honest and remarkable effort trying to incorporate most of the Glashütte specialties within this movement. Personally I think it will be even better if other traditional features such as gold chatons with blued screws for the jewels and swan-neck regulator can be added to the movement as well, but I shall not complain given what has been done already to transform an ordinary Swiss movement into something that follows the tradition of  the early Glashütte pocket watch movements while maintaining the price of the watch affordable. The Glashütte sunburst pattern on the ratchet and crown wheel are truly very pleasing to the eyes, something one doesn't see from the Swiss movements. 

One of the advantages of using an existing calibre that have already stood the test of time as the base movement is the proven reliability and accuracy. This Tangente has an actual power reserve of 44 hours and gains constantly between 2-3 seconds per day. When winding the watch one can actually feel the click clicking the mainspring as the crown turns. Although the winding isn't as smooth as one might expect from other hand winds that are sold at considerable higher prices, it nevertheless gives the owner of the watch a very solid click by click feeling, which once again reflects the practical nature of German watchmaking. 

Strap and clasp

The hand-sewn straps made of Shell Cordovan, a leather that is water-repellent, thick, and dense, for the Nomos Tangente is definitely one of the most comfortable watch straps I have ever strapped on. Unlike many other expensive buffalo or crocodile straps, the Shell Cordovan straps are very soft and fit perfectly on one's wrist from day 1 and doesn't require any time for the straps to "break-in". The other good thing about these straps is that even after several months of frequent wearing, the strap doesn't show clear signs of wearing caused by the tang buckle from the exterior, as attested from the photo below.

Instead of being fitted with a standard tang buckle for the Tangente models, this watch comes with a buckle that is identical to the ones used for the Ludwig and Orion models. The buckle is engraved "WEMPE" instead of the normal Nomos, and  perhaps the buckle is the only way to distinguish this watch from a regular Tangente without revealing the back of the watch. I've heard some owners voicing their dissatisfaction with the relatively inferior finish of the buckle in comparison with the case, but as far as I'm concerned I personally find it acceptable and comfortable to wear.

Box and packaging

The Nomos Wempe LE comes with the same box for all other Nomos models, which is a black wooden box made out of poplar wood that has been oiled with water-soluble satin. The interior of the box is covered with black velvet. The only difference I noticed is the exterior paper cover for the box, where "WEMPE LIMITIERTE EDITION 125 Jahre" is added. Overall I feel the box matches the style of the Tangente well, both being very clean and simple. 

Wearing the Tangente - some thoughts 

With its weight of approximately 15.2 grams, the Tangente is perhaps the lightest watch I ever owned. At the same time, thanks to its lightness my wrist enjoys a break occasionally from all the other heavy sports watches I have. The shape of this watch fits on the wrist very well and is suitable for many occasions ranging from casual wear to formal events. I have to admit that I got more compliments for this watch from other non-WIS people than any other watches I own that cost way more than this Tangente. In more than one occasion people asked me if I was a designer or architect whenever I was wearing this watch, and I can't think of any other watch I ever had that is so closely related to a particular type of profession, which is a pretty interesting phenomenon to me. As you can easily imagine I was also asked numerous times where can this watch be purchased and how much does it cost by people that are not generally into watches. While I was telling them the price I paid most of them were a bit shocked as they were anticipating somewhat less base on what they know about watches, and as a WIS myself I was doing the best I can trying to justify the many reasons why such an ordinary watch in their view is worth the monetary value it demands. I am not sure if I had them fully convinced, but nevertheless I gave my best shot! After all, it is fascinating for me to realize that this little watch I was wearing could have served as the medium for those people I had conversations with to enter the wonderful  world of fine mechanical watches one day. Life is full of surprises!


Well by now I think I've said most I want to say about this watch in the previous sections. Being priced the same as a regular Tangente, the Nomos Wempe LE is one of the most affordable interesting limited editions in my humble opinion. For me personally, this is a simple watch full of interesting stories and memories behind it, and I am glad that I have the good fortunate to own and enjoy wearing it on a daily basis.


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Copyright September 2004 - Roger Tsai and ThePuristS.com - all rights reserved