To say that a NOMOS watch is incredible bang for the buck is like pointing out to someone that the Sun is essential for all life on Earth. It’s something for which we are all grateful, but it’s also so ingrained in us that we just don’t give it that much thought. Still, though, it bears repeating from time to time. After all, it never hurts to count your blessings.
So let’s talk Tetra. Â The word “tetra” is Greek in origin and means four of something, more or less; and, by extension, something square (a tetrahedron has four sides; the fish known as a Tetra gets its name from the longer Tetragonopterus, which means “square fin”). The Tetra watch, therefore, is a square-cased watch, and for some time it’s been a bit of an outsider in the NOMOS family, the rest of which is resolutely round. Generally speaking consumers seem to vastly prefer round watches over square or rectangular watches, and it’s interesting to reflect that modern tastes differ somewhat from those of clients for the very first true wristwatches, which were often square, rectangular, or tonneau shaped, the better to distinguish them from pocket watches.
Until this year’s Baselworld, the Tetra was a watch that might easily have appealed to someone looking for an alternative to, say, a Cartier Tank or Tonneau in 1920 or thereabouts; at 27 mm square or 29.5 mm square, the Tetra was a watch for a man or woman with very conservative, almost reactionary, preferences in size combined with an affinity for Bauhaus-esque minimalism, and not a little love of irony (a square, sub-30 mm, minimalist watch, often offered in bright-but-muted pastels, is about as subversively critical and ironic a watch as you’re going to get nowadays).
Now, part of the problem with a small, square watch is that the dimensions as read, really don’t give you a good idea how the watch wears; the length of each side is a factor, but so is the diagonal dimension, which of course is much longer.
The smaller models are still available (and are pretty killer Value Propositions in themselves; the least expensive 27 mm Tetra, with NOMOS’ Alpha caliber, is listed for USD 1980 on their online shop), but with the new models, there are now two self-winding, display back, sapphire crystal, 33 mm versions of the Tetra as well. These are the Tetra Neomatik, and the Tetra Neomatik Tiefblau; the former has a white dial and the latter, a very deep blue dial (almost black).
This new version of the Tetra is also a launch vehicle for the NOMOS in-house caliber DUW 3001, which was announced in early 2015. This is a self-winding and quite thin movement at only 3.1 mm overall, with a diameter of 28.8 mm (for reference, the ETA 2892, which is generally considered a pretty flat, if not ultra flat, caliber, is 3.6 mm x 25.6 mm and the workhorse ETA 2824 is 4.6 mm thick). Of all the movements that fly the in-house flag, this is one of the in-housiest (if I may coin a clumsy neologism) with the balance spring, balance, escape wheel, and lever all produced by NOMOS. Â
As we have already said it’s not not news that NOMOS is a great value. It is news, though, that they continue to be. “In-house” is a pretty slippery subject and it’s probably the single subject in all of horology most likely to cause vituperation, recrimination, and downright bad behavior (from both enthusiasts and brands, in one form or another) but I really feel NOMOS is doing it right. The DUW 3001 comes with a little bit of a premium over preceding Tetras, but considering its gracile dimensions, which are the result of a careful engineering process rather than a rushed, me-too cloning of existing products on which patent protections have run out, I think there is even more bang for the buck than usual in the Neomatiks in general, and in the Tetras in particular.
Though this isn’t a Week On The Wrist per se, a discussion of the wear experience is well worth having. Â Square watches are a niche for many reasons; everything from the fact that round just seems to relate better to our intuitive experience of time, to the fact that a round case is easier to seal against moisture (and therefore is virtually ubiquitous in tool watches, which in turn are virtually ubiquitous in their appeal) and on and on. I think if there’s going to be a watch that is going to make you seriously consider a square watch, however, it might be this one (in the same way trying on a Reverso can be a game changer for anyone skeptical about the appeal of a rectangular watch). The Tetra is easy to wear at 48 grams (strap included) on our scale, and both the white and deep blue dial versions are subdued but striking, with the sharpness of the colors and fineness of the markers and hands beautifully set off by the case geometry. Putting one on might not exactly make for a Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment, but it could well open your mind to the possibility, at least, of a square watch.
A word on the size: at 33 mm this might seem too small to some of you. Bear in mind, however, that its diagonal width is over 40 mm, so it wears a lot larger than you’d think. It’s still a thin, elegant watch (case thickness is 6.3 mm, which compares well to, of all things, the Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques 1967, which is also a square, self-winding watch, and which is 5.4 mm thick; both watches are 3 bar water resistant). However, to pigeonhole it as a dress watch is to miss its versatility; it’s a watch that is incredibly versatile, and, even better, that isn’t due to oversimplification in design, but rather, to adaptability, which is of course not the same thing.
The NOMOS Tetra Neomatik 33 mm is available for $3,860 and you can order it direct from NOMOS. A square cased watch isn’t for everyone, but I think everyone will probably agree that at the very least, such a well made, well designed, delightfully thin and elegant timepiece with an equally well thought out in-house movement is, at this price, a terrific Value Proposition.
Check out our launch coverage of all 10 variations on the new Neomatiks, right here.