Starting a mechanical watch collection can be an intimidating process. The watch industry is vast, with a fascinating history and dozens of prestigious brands offering tempting watches at eye-popping prices. But starting a collection of mechanical watches doesn’t have to be scary, hard, or super expensive. In fact, it can be downright fun. Especially if you’re kicking off your hobby with a Club Campus from German watchmaker NOMOS Glashütte.
NOMOS introduced the Club Campus line in 2017 with the intention of creating a watch for younger collectors that could function as an affordable yet high-quality introduction to mechanical watches. They’ve certainly accomplished that goal, and have been expanding the line in the years since. For 2021, NOMOS has debuted two new colorways to the range: Future Orange and Absolute Grey. We took both variants for a spin: the 36mm Club Campus in Absolute Grey and the 38.5mm Club Campus 38 in Future Orange. Here’s what we thought.
Add Some Color To Your Wardrobe
Naturally, the first thing one notices about these new Club Campus watches is their very playful dials. The line has always had a whimsical feel to it, but it’s even more present in these new colorways. The dial layout is familiar to Club Campus fans, with its mix of Roman and Arabic numeral indices on the California-style dial and a small seconds counter at six o’clock. The indices are slightly raised and glossy, and when combined with the sunken subdial at six, a good amount of depth is created in the seemingly uncomplicated dial.
The Future Orange is certainly the more attention-grabbing of the two, as it is very bright. The color is meant to represent the rising sun and new beginnings, and it was created to commemorate the lack of celebrations that students and graduates around the world were robbed of during the coronavirus pandemic. The orange is complemented nicely by a subtle teal color on the minute track numerals and the surrounds on the indices. The Absolute Gray is definitely the more versatile wear of the two, with its subdued cool gray dial. But subdued doesn’t mean boring, and the Absolute Gray still includes a splash of color via red-orange minute track numerals and index surrounds. Both colorways use Super-LumiNova on the indices that appears white in the day and glows bright ice-blue in low light situations, and both utilize a neon-orange seconds hand to go along with their rhodium-plated lume-filled hour and minute hands.
Built To Last A Lifetime
While NOMOS created the Club Campus watches as a starter watch for young collectors, that doesn’t mean the watches are disposable. These German-made stainless steel timepieces are built to last a lifetime, and even if you receive one for your college graduation, it’s entirely possible that you could hand it down to your grandson at his college graduation. The casework on the watches is very classy and well done, with a uniform high-polish applied throughout. It’s a simple design, but one that looks quite fetching in the metal.
The polished stainless steel caseback is almost entirely blank save for a small amount of text running around the outside. That’s not an example of NOMOS being lazy; it was by design. Since NOMOS conceives this watch to be used in commemorating milestones, they’ve left plenty of room for you to have it engraved — which they offer free of charge up to 88 characters. Though we appreciate the sentiment, it would be nice to see a display caseback offered if only to get a peek at the beautiful Alpha Caliber manual-wind movement within. The impressive and wonderfully decorated movement is made in-house by NOMOS — an extreme rarity at this sub-$2,000 price point — and getting to see it would be ideal. But incorporating a display caseback would add both cost and thickness to the affordable, svelte watch, so we can also see why they omitted it.
On The Wrist
Conservatively Sized For Max Comfort
Unsurprisingly given their sub-40mm case sizes, both watches wear great on the wrist. They are exceptionally lightweight and very comfortable, and the included suede-like velour leather straps are soft, supple, flexible, and are noticeably well-crafted from high-quality material. Thanks in part to their hand-wound movements, both watches are very thin, which also adds to their comfort and wearability. The 36mm model measures just 8.2mm in height, while the 38.5mm version is a hair thicker at 8.5mm. Both measurements account for the slightly domed sapphire crystal, meaning you’ll have no trouble sliding these guys under the cuff of a long sleeve shirt.
Both watches do wear slightly larger than their modest case sizes would suggest, and that’s due to NOMOS’s signature long lugs. The long and straight lugs give additional elegance and wrist presence to the watches and prevent them from feeling tiny on the wrist. But don’t be mistaken: these are not large watches by any stretch of the imagination. They’re still very classically sized and well-proportioned and will work wonderfully on a wide variety of wrists. Plus, the two sizes give you the option of choosing which look you prefer. For a more vintage style, go for the 36. If you desire a more modern feel with greater wrist presence, opt for the 38. Whichever you choose, either is wearable for almost anyone.
The Perfect Gateway Watch
So who are these new NOMOS Glashütte Club Campus watches for? As we stated earlier, NOMOS set out to create watches that could spark a lifelong love of collecting for younger watch enthusiasts. And they’ve certainly done that here. But that shouldn’t be the only target market for the Club Campus. With their versatile sizing, fun colors, and top-notch build quality, these watches would also make a great addition to an existing collection. Because no matter how big or varied your watch collection is, we’re betting there’s room for a NOMOS Club Campus in it.
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