This week Andrew dropped us a line. He had read last weeks article and would like to have our thoughts about a dress watch for himself.

You Asked Us: Is the Nomos Orion a good choice for a dress watch?


Having just read your piece on the Oris Classic Date vs. Omega De Ville Prestige as a dress watch, I thought about posing a question that has been percolating in my mind for awhile.

In terms of ‘nice’ watches, I currently have two that I absolutely love: MKII Hawkinge and an Omega Speedmaster Professional. While I really enjoy these two watches, I do not have a great dress watch (and I, unfortunately, will be shifting from working remotely at home to pursuing an MBA and consequent formal interviews in the Fall, so will need something suit-appropriate).

Right now I have a Daniel Wellington quartz watch that I wear with suits that I don’t particularly love the feel of. I am consequently looking to buy in the short to medium-term a nice dress watch with the following characteristics: thin so that it can easily fit beneath a shirt-cuff, either hand-wound or automatic (understanding that the former can decrease the thickness of the watch), no day/date function (as I want a very clean dial), either a center or small seconds, and between 35-38mm.

What do you think about the Nomos Orion, 35mm, as a good choice? Or the 38mm? Looks like it would be appropriate with either a black or brown leather band. Beyond the broader watch and size considerations, what do you think about the benefits/deficiencies as a dress watch of having the silver indexes and hands versus the gold and blue indexes and hands?

What do we think of the Nomos Orion

First, let me say that in my opinion, the Nomos Orion is a very nice choice for a dress watch. What I like specifically about it is that most dress watches at this level are of a very classic design and shape. Not the Orion with its modern, almost lens-shaped casing, and flow-formed lugs. Quite a modern design, but unmistakably not a sports- or tool watch.

As well, often dress watches are made in gold, or at least gold plated. Many have a white dial with Roman numerals as well. Something which isn’t the case with the Nomos Orion. A stainless steel case and no numerals at all, but index lines in the dial. Still, and as mentioned above, it’s clearly a dress watch.

From Andrew’s message, we learn that it suits him to wear at least 38mm to 42mm watches. As well, he seems to love readable clean dials. Something he formulates in his question as well. And with his current collection of the Hawkinge MKII and the Omega Speedmaster Professional, we can imagine that he’s looking for another watch than the Daniel Wellington he’s using as a dress watch now.

Which dial type for the Orion, silver or blued hands?

Andrew’s main questions are about the type of dial and about the size of the watch. The Nomos Orion is available with a galvanized white silvered plated dial in two versions. One is with stamped, silver-plated, diamond-polished indexes and has polished and rhodium-plated hands. The other with stamped, gold-plated, diamond-polished indexes and blue tempered polished hands.

Nomos Orion with silvered indexes and hands

Nomos Orion with silvered indexes and hands

I think both types of dials/hands are suitable for a dress watch. However, because this is a somewhat more modern dress watch, to me the dial with gold index markers and blued hands speaks slightly more. While the silver indexes and hands might be a bit more restful, readability of the gold indexes in combination with blued hands is better under dim lit circumstances because of the higher contrast.

Nomos Orion

Nomos Orion with gold indexes and blued hands

Both types of the dial would suit either a black or a brown strap in my opinion. Although I would think more towards just a black strap with the silver index and hands. Either a black or brown strap would equally suit the gold index dial for me. My personal choice of the dial would be the gold index with blued hands, however, again that’s quite a matter of taste and can hardly be more than a personal opinion.

What is the correct size for a dress watch?

On to the size of the watch. The Nomos Orion comes in two sizes, 35mm and 38mm. While 35mm might be a perfect size for a vintage dress watch, in my opinion, the 38mm suits this type of a more modern watch on a man’s wrist somewhat better. This, of course, is a matter of wrist size as well, however, Andrew mentioned wearing 38mm and 42mm watches already, so that doesn’t seem to be a problem for him. Below is a picture of a 38mm Nomos Orion on my 18cm wrist.

Nomos Orion '100 Year De Stijl' edition

Nomos Orion ‘100 Year De Stijl’ limited edition

The watch showed above, by the way, is a special ‘100 Years De Stijl’ edition of the 38mm Nomos Orion. Limited to 100 pieces and brought exclusively by Amsterdam based Ace Jewelers. You’ll find our reviews on this specific watch here and here.

Back to the size for a dress watch. As mentioned 35mm might be a perfect size for a vintage dress watch, which brings me to another proposal. As an alternative to a new and modern watch, like the Nomos Orion, one could opt for a vintage watch as well. In this same style and construction, an Omega Seamaster 30 or 600 could be a very good choice.

Omega Seamaster 600

A possible alternative to the Nomos Orion

Certainly, not all vintage watches are suitable for modern everyday life, but mentioned Omega Seamasters, if in good and well-maintained condition, certainly are. An often found hand winding movement in this model is the caliber 601. A beautiful and fine workhorse which still can be serviced quite easily. Spare parts, like the glass, gasket, and crown, for instance, are still available without much trouble. The relatively simple construction of the round case assures a good possibility to even maintain its waterproofness.

Similarities and differences

Both calibers, the Nomos Alpha and the Omega 601, use 17 jewels and are hand winding. That’s about where the comparison ends. Long long ago, Nomos’ caliber Alpha was derived from the Pesseux 7001 caliber, but now there’s hardly anything anymore which resembles it. The Omega caliber 601 is with 27.9mm slightly larger in diameter than the 23.3mm of the Nomos Alpha. On the other hand, the Omega caliber is with 3.3mm quite a bit thicker than Nomos’ Alpha caliber with 2.6mm as well, which shows in the exterior of the watch. While the Omega operates at a frequency of 19.600/h, the Nomos ticks 21.600/h. The nominal power reserves are 48 hours for the Omega and 43 hours for the Nomos.

However, the main difference is the second hand. While the Nomos Orion sports a small second hand, the Omega has a central second hand. Something which very well might influence an aesthetical choice as well. And last but not least, a vintage Omega, like the mentioned Seamaster 600, can be found in good condition at a price less than half of that of the Nomos Orion. The Nomos Orion retails currently at € 1.740,= and can be had with a see-through glass back for an extra € 220,=.

But mind you, there are some major technical differences between these two watches, the domed sapphire crystal on the Nomos, for instance, can’t be neglected. As can’t the quality and finish of the movement and dial. Eastethically as well, the Orion case is much more sophisticated than a 50-year-old Seamaster. On the other hand, a vintage watch brings a whole different atmosphere than a modern one.

More information about Nomos Orion watches can be found at their website here.

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