Recently, we introduced to you the Nomos Orion “De Stijl” Limited Edition, a watch made especially for the Dutch market and retailed exclusively by Ace Jewelers. Celebrating the 100th-anniversary of Dutch art movement De Stijl, it featured the classic, almost austere design of the brand, however here combined with an undeniable, yet discreet creative madness. Enough for us here to have the itch and want to see what this watch does on the wrist… with a special mention for our Founder Frank Geelen, himself a Dutchman.
De Stijl, which could be translated by The Style in English, certainly is the most famous modern art movement found in The Netherlands. While not all might be familiar with this name, many should recognize the names of some of its members: Theo van Doesburg, Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld were the main representatives of what later became one of the world’s most iconic contemporary art movements. Founded in 1917 in Leiden, It consisted of a group of designers, painters and architects who advocated pure abstraction by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; and they simplified visual compositions to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white and primary colours. And if you think about it, it is a definition that fits perfectly with the designs of a certain German watch brand, Nomos, whose creations are deeply inspired by Bauhaus, primary colours and graphic lines.
One of Mondrian’s best-known works, a product of his De Stijl period “Composition with Red Blue and Yellow“
Most of the Nomos watches are clean, based on simple design concepts, using symmetry and basic on graphic lines. Yet, with them, there’s always that small detail that just “nails it”… A hint of colour, a uniquely shaped font, a detail that is only seen after a closer inspection but that makes these watches different and in fact, less simple than you’d thought at first. Now that you know both parties, you can see where it is going: the union of De Stijl and Nomos came quickly to Ace Jewelers, who have seen quite some potential here. This is where this Nomos Orion “De Stijl” Limited Edition comes from.
The Nomos Orion “De Stijl” Limited Edition
The “De Stijl” Limited Edition by Ace Jewelers basically is a Nomos Orion in most points. No debate about that. Case and mechanics are equal (we’ll get back on this later). However, there’s one huge difference, which can be seen rather quickly: the dial. To celebrate De Stijl, the Amsterdam-based retailer chose to go slightly wild and offers something that combines great discretion with a proper unique style. In terms of inspirations, no doubt either. Nomos was the right choice for a De Stijl limited edition and Ace Jewelers, as the Dutchmen they are, are quite legitimate to have such a special watch.
That Dial… That weird but cool dial
Most of the originality in this Nomos Orion “De Stijl” Limited Edition comes from its dial. And by originality, we don’t only mean that the dial is unique to this watch. It is unique in many ways. Classically, dials feature indexes (painted or applied, shaped with lines or numerals). However, they are, in 99,99% of the cases, symmetrical. Cut the watch in half from the top to the bottom and you’ll probably end with two identical pieces. The indexes can vary depending on their positions on the dial, however, one is almost always giving echo to another. Period.
Not here. Not with this “De Stijl” Limited Edition. Nomos and Ace Jewelers wanted to celebrate art, graphic lines and cubism. To give originality to a watch that is already very much Bauhaus-inspired, meaning using white and black, combined with graphic straight lines, the solution was to create specific indexes. So now, if you look closer, you’ll see that on this Nomos Orion “De Stijl”, not a single index is equal to another. None have the same length, none have the same width. This is where this watch becomes just cool. Never before I’ve seen such a dial created – and it feels really pleasant.
However, don’t believe that they used shortcuts. It’s far from a total mess and everything has been balanced. The best example concerns the ratio between the length and the width of the indexes. Simple: the longer, the thinner. The shorter, the bolder. The best part comes from how this watch looks on the wrist. Photos are not helping, by making the watch much larger than it is in the real world. These indexes and this “controlled mess” is much more discreet when worn, and only a closer inspection will reveal the originality of this dial. A quick look will probably make you think that something is out of the norm, without probably knowing why. This is where this watch felt totally achieved for us.
Even if promoting De Stijl, no colours are used on the dial. A silvery-white plate, black indexes, blackened hands. That’s all. A highly monochromatic look indeed. With the exception of these indexes, the dial remains equal to the standard Nomos Orion, with the same display and the relatively quiet dial – no need for 4 lines of text here.
The case / the strap
For this limited edition, Nomos and Ace Jewelers have chosen to go for the Orion, a well-known piece in the collection. The Orion certainly is the most elegant and refined option from Nomos, with a more curved case than some of the other watches – which feature usually rather angular cases. Here, we have a 38mm case in polished steel, with elongated and tapered lugs. Overall, the case feels a bit more classical than the dial, which is a nice option to keep the focus on these indexes.
The case itself is rather small in terms of diameter, however, the lugs are longer than on other watches from Nomos. This gives the Orion a nice modern presence on the wrist. Yet, lugs are curved, which helps the watch to sit comfortably on the wrist. The quality of construction is, as always with Nomos, above all suspicion. A nice detail is the hollowed lugs, extremely practical when you want to switch strap. Talking about the strap, we have here a classical offer from Nomos, a black, sleek Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan leather. As usual, these straps are made to gain a patina and are a real added value to the watch.
Inside the Nomos Orion “De Stijl” Limited Edition, we find the hand-wound Alpha movement. While available with other movements, including the ultra-thin in-house DUW 3001, the choice here was to keep this watch both classical and accessible. This is why we have the first and most classical movement by Nomos, which however appears to be an in-house produced engine. While based on the old Peseux 7001, the Alpha movement features important modifications, making its origins rather difficult to guess. This thin hand-wound movement has a 43-hour power reserve and the typical German-school style, with a three-quarter plate. It includes the Nomos Swing System, basically the brand’s own escapement, including the hairspring and the balance wheel, which are also done by Nomos and not externally sourced (something rare enough to be mentioned).
In terms of looks, the decoration is pleasant, with ribbings on the bridges and circular graining on the main-plate. The barrel-wheel and the ratchet wheel feature a sunray pattern and the screws, following the German tradition, are blued. Funny thing, if you look closely at this movement, it even uses the primary colours so dear to De Stijl: yellow for the balance and the wheels, red for the rubies and blue for the screws. Nothing different from any other movement but a nice story to tell when explaining this watch to your friends.
The Nomos Orion “De Stijl” Limited Edition by Ace Jewelers is a surprising watch, in a good way. While we were not questioning the quality of the Nomos Orion itself, the dial really needs to be experienced on the wrist to reveal all its originality, but also its great discretion. Yes, this watch has some unique indexes, but it is never loud. It is refined and the references to De Stijl are much more subtle and clever than just printing a copy of a Mondrian’s painting on the case-back.
This limited edition will be produced in 100 pieces, priced at EUR 1,960 with taxes. It is only available online, on www.acejewelers.com. A few pieces are still available, but you’d better be fast if you want to experience this cool, slightly eccentric watch on your wrist.
Technical Specifications – Nomos Orion “De Stijl” Limited Edition for Ace Jewelers
- Case: 38mm diameter x 8.86mm height – stainless steel, polished – sapphire crystal on both sides – 3atm water resistant
- Dial: galvanized, white silver-plated – black indexes and hands
- Movement: Alpha movement, in-house produced (based on a Peseux 7001 ébauche) – hand-wound – 43h power reserve – 2.6mm thick – 17 jewels – hours, minutes, small seconds
- Strap: black Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan strap with steel pin buckle
- Price: 1,620 Euro (excluding VAT)
- Availability: order at Ace Jewelers boutiques and on e-Boutique www.AceJewelers.com
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.