JUN 29, 2017
Nomos Club Campus Watches Hands-On
During Baselworld 2017, Nomos showed three new watches that were a statement of support for mechanical timepieces and their appeal to younger enthusiasts. The Nomos Club Campus watches are touted as the ideal graduation gift and the ~$1,500 price along with custom case back engraving options really add to the appeal in this sense. If you're a fan of the minimalist Bauhaus style Nomos adheres to (the feeling that these are bland and repetitive isn't uncommon) and want a new mechanical timepiece with a customization option, then these are an interesting value proposition whether you're graduating or not.
Part of this value proposition and a common element in the Nomos Club Campus is the movement. Nomos' caliber Alpha is an in-house, hand-wound movement that offers 43 hours of power reserve. It's a solid movement, but one that is aging a bit. Nomos movements are quite visually appealing, but in order to keep the price down Nomos benefits from using their "base" mechanical movement as well as opting for a closed steel case back. However, like the other Nomos offerings, there is an option to upgrade to a display case back. That being said, the decision to use a stainless steel case back was well thought out and aimed at serving two purposes.
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, it helps keep cost down as sapphire crystal case backs are more expensive to manufacture and implement. Nomos has stated that they wanted to make fine watchmaking appealing and affordable to a younger demographic, and the Club Campus was designed with this in mind. The other reason for a steel case back has to do with Nomos' hope to make the Club Campus watches the ideal graduation gift, which are obviously seen as a lifelong token commemorating an important achievement. The stainless steel case back can be engraved with a custom message, a complimentary service that Nomos offers with each watch purchased.
The rest of the case also remains identical to the existing Club offerings. Of the three available options, two are offered in a 38mm case and the last is in a more petite 36mm. The Nomos Club case has always been more contemporary and less Bauhaus in design than some of the other offerings like the Tangente, a good choice in this case as it'll have to pair just as well with formal office wear as casual wear. The long, tapered lugs and the wide polished bezel mean that this watch tends to wear a little larger and higher on the wrist. The crown is a simple, fluted one but well proportioned and quite ergonomic in use. This is an important consideration given these watches are hand wound and the crown will see more use than with an automatic.
The dial is where the Club Campus stands apart from the standard line of Club watches. The watches all have a "California" dial, in which the top half of the dial has Arabic numeral markers and the bottom half Roman numeral markers. While no one is quite certain why these dials are called California dials, it was a style that was first seen in Rolex and Panerai watches from the 1930s. However, I suspect historical significance had little to do with Nomos' decision to use this style. The California dial is Nomos' attempt at being quirky, 'hip' and appealing to the younger demographic. I'm no style savant so I cannot say if this qualifies as 'hip' in general but it is definitely a quirky and a refreshing take on the standard Nomos.
A welcome addition to the Nomos Club Campus are the luminescent markers on the dial and the lumed hands, a sign that Nomos has taken the time to understand the target demographic. These watches have to be functional round-the-clock (the lume helps with legibility at night) and appeal to a broad set of young people whose parents appreciate mechanical watches or are budding enthusiasts themselves. Despite the similar designs in three watches, Nomos has been smart about what they keep constant and what they change. In this case, the color of the lume has been matched with the dial color.
Of the three available variants, the Club 38 Campus Nacht is offered with Nomos' signature black ruthenium-plated dial, similar to the dial found in the Nomos Orion Anthrazit. The lume is a contrasting beige with a blue outline for the markers. The outline around the lume on the markers is a subtle touch and adds some visual interest to the dial but is light enough to not seem odd or clash with the other dial elements. The seconds sub-dial is at 6 o'clock and recessed. The baton seconds hand is a nice, bright orange and the minute and hour hands are sword-shaped, black and filled with white lume. There is a minute track along the edge of the dial which serves more as a good visual anchor and filler.
The other 38mm offering simply called the Club 38 Campus has a silver-plated white dial. The lume for the markers here is blue in color and the outline is a contrasting red. The shape and color the hands and other elements of the dial are the same as the Club 38 Campus Nacht. The last variant, with a 36mm case and simply called the Club Campus also has the same silver-plated white dial, but the lume here is gray in color with a red outline. The red is light enough that at certain angles it is pinkish. While Nomos does not state this specifically anywhere, I suspect that the 36mm offering was designed to work well as a ladies watch. All the lume used throughout the models is Super-LumiNova and as you can see from the pictures, does a good job at improving legibility in low light conditions.
I'm curious to see how a hand-wound movement will fare with younger, non-watch enthusiasts. Luckily for Nomos, they have managed to create a watch that has strong horological foundations and will appeal to both the initiated and uninitiated, and they have done so at a lower price point than any of their other watches. The Nomos Club Campus on a gray velour strap is priced at $1,500 USD and, the Club 38 Campus and Club 38 Campus Nacht are available on an anthracite velour strap and are priced at $1,650 USD. If you chose to skip the engraved steel case back and chose to upgrade to the sapphire crystal back, there is an upcharge of $300.