We reported on it as soon as it hit the market. Now, just a few weeks later, we managed to get one of the last available pieces in hand for a quick review. And, I’ve got to say, that the new NOMOS Glashütte × Ace Jewelers Tangente Amsterdam limited edition is a sterling follow-up to its three forerunners.

The whole Ace/NOMOS collaboration is taking on a life of its own. Since the release of the NOMOS Glashütte Orion De Stijl in 2017 — which now looks like an outlier to the Amsterdam-flag-themed trio that came after it — the micro-collection has found its feet and a definite audience that looks sure to propel this partnership onwards and upwards.

Throughout the design processes of each of the four limited editions, Team Ace has stressed the importance of respecting the design codes of the base model. I think that’s what has resulted in such a cohesive and instantly-digestible selection of special editions. It is really easy to accidentally end up throwing the kitchen sink at a special edition project in an attempt to make it an eye-catching, cash-corraling, classic. But the thing is, classics are often quiet. A truly successful limited edition watch should be designed so that its appeal is not limited to its limitation. Doing that well is hard. Getting it right — or watching someone else getting it right — is satisfying.

The result? Classy, core-worthy models with a pop of Dutch flavor. The thought of these pieces only being made a handful of times actually annoys me a little bit… Perhaps that’s why my first two NOMOS purchases were Ace limited editions…

Behind the curtain

To learn a little more about the thought process behind this design, I spoke to Team Ace. The design process followed an organic train of thought. Firstly, the team admitted to itself that, after three non-Tangente releases — an Orion, a Club, and a Zürich accounted for the first three — the most iconic NOMOS was overdue the Ace treatment. Next up was the question of how (and how much) to alter the classic design? It made sense to Team Ace to continue in the black/red/white Amsterdam theme, but the question became how to deploy the colors.

Nomos Tangente 020 LE.002

The recently released Bauhaus series of Tangentes had been a remarkable success. It was also a firm favorite of the team. As such, they decided to pitch ideas to NOMOS based on this layout. The main difference between the Bauhaus models and the regular collection? A contrasting minuterie breaking-up the otherwise sparse Tangente dial.

Nomos Tangente

Unsurprisingly — having now seen the model in real life — NOMOS loved the design. Apparently, a slight adjustment was made to the three crosses at six o’clock, but beyond that, the brand embraced the Ace-born idea. I personally love the addition of the crosses. I thought it might look a bit forced or cramped until I saw it myself, but I love the execution. There is just enough space for the crosses to breathe. But my absolute favorite design decision is subtler still. Instead of using white numerals and hour markers, the combined brain trust of NOMOS and Ace went with a slightly metallic silver color. The result is, in my opinion, incredibly easy on the eye.

Nomos Tangente 020 LE.008

The proof is in the pudding

From my time at NOMOS Glashütte (during which I worked with Ace) I know how different ideas for new models can look in your head, on paper, and in the metal. The truth? The proof is always in the pudding. How will these notions hang together in three dimensions? How will these lightning-bolts of inspiration react to natural light? Will the watch be domineering or demure on the wrist? How will it distinguish itself from the crowd without coming across as a trouble maker?

…my favorite Tangente yet.

Honestly, it is hard (if not impossible) to answer these questions until you get the prototype in hand. As soon as Team Ace received the physical prototypes from the brand they were sure they had done the Tagente proud. As soon as I got my hands on this piece, and this 38mm piece on my wrist, I knew it was my favorite Tangente yet.

Nomos Tangente 020 LE.001

That necessary edge

Why? Because it is simply more interesting than the standard model (which I own in 35mm). I, unlike many, was not head over heels in love with the Bauhaus models. I thought they were “cool” but I had no desire to wear any of them. In my opinion, they were a nicely executed idea that lacked the necessary “edge” to lever me from my hard-earned cash.

The NOMOS Glashütte × Ace Jewelers Tangente Amsterdam Limited Edition changed my mind on a lot of fronts. Firstly, it had that necessary edge. It had a bit of bite and masculinity that I desperately wanted from the core collection. And while the dimensions of the standard NOMOS Glashütte Tangente 38mm are identical to this one, the vast expanse of silvery nothingness on the regular 38 left me cold. Here, the black is more engaging, to begin with; the white minuterie is a brilliantly timed interruption.  The red seconds hand and the crosses offer just enough pizzazz to keep this watch from being too dull. In short, it is an exercise in balance.

Nomos Tangente 020 LE.008

The regular NOMOS quality

In addition to these rather smart design decisions (in my opinion), the NOMOS Glashütte × Ace Jewelers Tangente Amsterdam Limited Edition is fitted with the NOMOS Alpha caliber, which is visible through the sapphire display back. The Alpha has an operating frequency of 21,600vph and a power reserve of 43 hours. And that’s despite its diminutive height of just 2.5mm. That means the whole watch comes in at 6.8mm cased up.

Nomos Tangente 020 LE.010

For anyone concerned about the 38mm diameter (which is actually 37.5mm in real life) being too small, I ran this watch and its proportions through my Visual Impact Index and the result suggests that this watch will appear more like 43mm. That might sound massive, but bear in mind this beauty sits wide and low on the wrist. Furthermore, there isn’t a huge amount to distract on the dial (although I did compensate for the seconds sub-dial and the contrasting minuterie). For more information on this limited edition and to order one of the last few of the 45 pieces available, check out the Ace Jewelers online store here.