Nomos Orion Review
Many of you will, or at least should be acquainted with Nomos by now. A brand founded in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall, they have been making leaps and bounds in the horological world for years now. Based out of Glashütte, Germany (a little Switzerland in the East of Germany when it comes to fine watches, if you will), Nomos sit along side A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original in being the only watch brands being authorised to have Glashütte on the dial, which should give you some sense of just what a big player they are. With the odd sports & dive watches rounding off their collection, they really excel in the dress watch department. Today we’ll be looking at what they themselves suggest is their most beautiful offering; the Nomos Orion.
The Nomos Orion is a delicate dress watch available in a range of sizes from 33mm to 38mm, which would undoubtedly fire it up the list of watches suitable for any wrist size, if there was such a thing. It is also available with a multitude of dial colours, including grey, rose & black. My personal Nomos Orion, used for this article and featured in all the photographs within it, is the smallest of them all. While this may seem minuscule to some, and in fact has been marketed as a ladies watch in a number of watch shops, there are several reasons why this works for me. Firstly, and perhaps this is the traditionalist in me rearing his head, I feel a dress watch should be dainty and refined, almost unnoticeable when emerging from under the cuff. Secondly, the fact I have smaller than average wrists allows me to take advantage of ‘ladies’, vintage and the more petite watches in this world, which aids me in this case as the larger watches at Nomos happen to carry larger price tags.
The last point why the baby of the Nomos Orion line is such a hit comes down to the fact it’s all face. While the thin steel bezel disappears around the back of the impossibly slender 7.5mm case, it also blends almost seamlessly with the galvanised white silver dial. This dial constantly changes colour, switching from it’s frosted silver to a vintage looking off white and onto champagne with the slightest change of light. It’s beautifully uncluttered, with Nomos Glashütte printed in black at 12 o’clock & a ribbed small seconds dial at 6 hovering over the subtly stamped ‘Made in Germany’. The hours are then marked with applied gold batons and the minutes are printed in between. Thin tempered blue steel hands complete this Bauhaus inspired package. The empty dial, paired with the unusually long lugs (42mm tip to tip) give this 33mm watch a lot more wrist presence than you might think.
This particular Nomos Orion is available with two different style case backs; a solid stainless steal back and the one I opted for – a sapphire display back. This comes at a premium, but is worth every penny to view the superbly decorated 17 jewel in-house Alpha hand wound movement. Red jewels & tempered blue screws adorn the Glashütte stripes (cotes de Geneve), with Nomos Glashütte & 17 Steine embossed in gold and the balance wheel peering from behind the three-quarter plate. Winding the watch is an absolute joy as it really makes you connect with this fine piece of engineering, and this pretty package provides a 43 power reserve with hacking seconds, as expected with a watch of this calibre. Surrounding the display window you are presented with all the information relevant to the watch, including it’s serial number and it’s waterproof rating – 3ATM/30 metres, more than adequate for a dress watch.
This particular size Nomos Orion comes on a 17mm velour leather (suede) strap, however I opted to upgrade to a black Horween Shell Cordovan strap to give it a more dressy look. All Nomos straps come with a signed buckle. To mix things up I am currently wearing it on a Butterscotch strap from Theo & Harris, giving it a much more casual vibe. This watch really can take you from the board room to the bar on what ever style leather strap you choose, but I think it’s best to stick to something classic.
I feel the Nomos Orion, particularly the 33 & 35mm versions, hark back to the 50s and 60s, in terms of both size and style. The addition of drilled lugs is not only a huge benefit when it comes to changing between your dress and casual straps, but further engrains this feel of vintage. With much deliberation the only negative I can possibly find with it is the overly long lugs making it wear a little larger than 33mm. Some people may argue that having to hand wind the watch could also be a negative, but some of the larger styles come with automatic winding, so this potential issue is covered.
My Nomos Orion is a hugely special timepiece to me, namely as it was the first grail watch I obtained of my own accord. It’s the sort of watch I know will likely outlast myself, a true heirloom piece. And not just because of it’s superb build quality, but the character it will gain sharing the many happy memories I have wearing it. I’ve longed after this watch for some time now, and I can start adding to it’s unique character & story later this year when, along with my brother, we give my Mother away at her wedding.