By ALEX WILLIAMS
Techy smartwatches. Cheap fashion watches. Snowboarder-friendly sport watches.
The watch industry has been laboring to get millennials in the habit of checking their wrists, not their cellphones, for the time. The challenge is even greater for the makers of fine mechanical timepieces, which can cost $5,000 or more.
No wonder then that Nomos Glashütte made waves at the recent Baselworld watch fair with its new Club Campus line, a budget-priced collection of design-forward “serious” watches aimed at first-time buyers celebrating special occasions like college graduation or a first job.
“Starting an independent life isn’t always easy, but we think that a good watch can help — as a reliable accompaniment for whatever life brings next: whether that is a trip around the world, further studies or a job interview,” said Uwe Ahrendt, the chief executive of Nomos.
“As a father of two young adults myself,” he added, “I am particularly enthusiastic about these new customers, for whom there has been nothing on the market until now.”
Nomos, in theory, is well-positioned to reach that younger demographic group, given its colorful Euro-chic designs and growing cultishness among young watch-blog types on these shores.
The company is in Glashütte, a village in Saxony that is home to several of Germany’s most venerable brands, including A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original. But having started only in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nomos retains the youthful air of a start-up, with a design studio in, where else, ever-chic Berlin.
The designs, too, are fresh and youthful in spirit, balancing classic Teutonic clean lines from the Deutscher Werkbund tradition (which predates the Bauhaus) with sunny hints of color — sky blue, neon orange — that seem ready for South Beach.
Sizing, too, is youth-friendly. The Club Campus line is available in three models and two sizes, 36 millimeters and 38 millimeters (both on the smaller side for the contemporary timepiece market).
The under-25 buyer will likely appreciate the playful touches in the Club Campus line. Each mixes Arabic and Roman numerals on the dial, for instance. Unlike most Nomos watches, which have clear casebacks, the youth line has a closed steel caseback, left largely free of adornment. The plain back of the watch is not a cost-saving strategy but a celebratory one: The blank slate is meant for an inscription.
Of course, none of these design flourishes would mean much if the watches were priced out of the range of the intended buyers. They start around $1,500, about a third of what the grown-up Nomos models retail for, which could be considered downright cheap for a well-appointed German watch with a handcrafted mechanical movement.
Besides, faced by daunting student loans, many graduates will welcome a discount wherever they can find one.