Nomad watches are an interesting watch in the most genuine use of the word. Patrick and I looked at our first email from Nomad and the attached images we got, and Patrick’s first comment was that the shape of the watch was “interesting.”
It captured my interest, too. The way I’ve found myself thinking about the watch is, they’ve taken a design-driven approach to every part of the watch, and answered the questions to watch construction in ways that are unique. What would happen if you described a wristwatch in text only, and shared that description with a designer who had never seen a wristwatch before? What would the result look like? Obviously, that isn’t what happened here; I’d be hard-pressed to think of a designer who hasn’t seen or worn a watch. But the approach is so interesting, so unusual, that it’s this sort of way of thinking about it that works for me.
What’s going on here, then? First of all, the case. The case resembles a cast iron pan from the side – it’s side walls lean out, rather than being vertical or concave. The texture finish of the case is a rough coated surface. The black finish has brown undertones.
The case is far larger than the movement, which is fairly normal for a quartz watch. Quartz movements are made small, so that they fit in a variety of cases, and frequently the hands are longer than the ray of the movement in order to look appropriate in a larger case. Here, the hands are shorter, but they don’t violate one of my principles for hands, that the hands must reach the indices for the time they mark – minute hands should reach the minute track, for example. How did the designer accomplish this on a movement that swims in the space provided? By making longer indices. This turns out to work nicely visually.
The dial is a dished affair. If you like Yves Behar’s Movado dial work, you’ll like Nomad’s even better. This is not Yves Behar, but the work of highly esteemed industrial engineer Samuel Wilkinson to develop the prototypes for the Inline and Outline. Created for the individual who appreciates modest modern design infused with classic, honest craftsmanship and Swiss movement, both are deceptively simplistic in appearance but meticulous in detail.The indices are bold lines for the hour markers, punctuated by two digit numerals, and lighter stroke lines for the minute markers.
The hours are longer and have the effect of making the minute markers look as if there’s a convex nature to them between the hours – but there isn’t, it’s an optical illusion. There are four varieties available, essentially ones with markers that extend from the edge of the dial, and ones where they still reach the tips of the hands, but are a floating ring, not connected with the border of the dial. The other options are, white markers on black dial, or black markers on white dial. These are named, ‘inline’ and ‘outline.’
The strap is an Organic Swedish leather. I’m not sure what governs the use of the word Organic here, but it’s nicely finished. It’s fastened to the watch in an unusual way. There are no lugs here, hidden or otherwise. Normally in a watch shaped like this, there are lugs and they’re hidden, recessed within the circle of the circumference of the case. Xetum is a good example of this, as is a Mondaine that I own. Here, the strap is sandwiched between the case and a metal plate, held together with four screws. You won’t be changing straps often, or at all – but you won’t want to. The leather is comfortable, and is well-chosen. I’d say, “made for each other,” but that’s silly. Of course they are.
The caseback is held on with a separate, additional four screws that are visible on either side of the strap. I haven’t attempted to open the case back, but inside is a Ronda Swiss Quartz movement. These are reliable, and sure, we see them in many Kickstarter watches, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice – just that it’s popular for good reason.
The crystal is a clear scratch resistant glass. It isn’t the flat sapphire some would have chosen, but has a 2mm center and a wide chamfered edge that blends out to the thin edge of the case and beautifully warps the hour and minute markers when viewed from the side. It’s this kind of visual distortion that reinforces the ‘cast-iron pot’ case shape, but is so enjoyable to look at. Really. I find myself looking at it multiple times a day, just to look at it. And it’s striking enough that I’ve gotten asked for the time repeatedly, when my normal watch-wear doesn’t prompt the question. I can’t be sure if it’s the big-as-the-moon (that’s no moon!) dial, or what exactly, but it gets attention. The crown is a very grippy hexagonal chamfered-cut kind of shape. The clasp is a pin and buckle affair, all of which add up to the watch version of good fashion advice: When you’re wearing a statement piece, every other part should be muted to let the one statement piece do the talking.
They claim water-resistance to 3 ATM, or water resistant to 30 meters, 100 feet. It’s commonly understood that you wouldn’t really use a watch like this to anywhere near that depth. I’d advise that washing your hands, rain, and splashes are fine, while showering or swimming are best avoided.
The Inline and Outline are the second watch from Nomad, and the second result from collaboration with Samuel Wilkinson. It’s quartz, it’s glass, it’s a fashion watch to some – all reasons some of our handsome readers might look down upon it – but I’d wear it everyday, happily. Nomad Watches is launching their Kickstarter project on July 26, 2016.
- Brand & Model: Nomad Outline
- Price: Earlybird pricing starts at £95, or about $125 USD (future price, £185)
- Who we think it might be for: You like Bauhaus design, but want a non-traditional case that carries the simplicity from the dial through to the rest of the execution.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Yes, at the early bird pricing. It’s about the same pricing as much more widely mass-produced quartz watches, and is way more interesting.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Honestly, it’s not wrong as it is. I would consider making sure the black coating is a truer black. Patrick was bothered that it didn’t use standard hidden lugs. I wonder if that could be an impediment for watch fans to purchase. It shouldn’t be.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The dial indices and the distortion that happens at the edge of the crystal, giving it that dished look I like so much.
Tech Specs from Nomad
- Case size: 41mm
- Height: 8mm
- Case material: 316L cast stainless steel, coated
- Weight: 62 grams
- Crystal: flat, mineral, 2mm center, with a wide beveled edge
- Strap: Organic Swedish leather, pin buckle clasp
- Movement: Swiss-made Ronda quartz