Watch Education , Watch Videos The Bauhaus Movement and Watch Design

Form follows function. This was the central principle of the Bauhaus movement, which started in the early 20th century in Germany. Walter Gropius founded the school and in addition to the Deutscher Werkbund was one of the modern catalysts for minimalist design, still at a height of popularity in 2016. The brand that epitomizes this concept is Saxony-based NOMOS Glashütte.


The term Bauhaus literally means the “House of Building.”

Bauhaus Design

Bauhaus was an art school in Germany, combining crafts and fine arts from 1919 to 1933. One of the key influencers of the movement was William Morris, who argued that “art should meet the needs of society and that there should be no distinction between form and function.” Another key influence was modernism, which dated back to the 1880s; think Picasso, Matisse and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The school favored simplified forms, rationality and functionality. They believed mass production could live in harmony with individuality. The unique design became one of the most influential parts of today’s modern design, spanning across architecture, art and other design including typography. Still today, Bauhaus teaches us to continue to create, explore and have fun. Fast Code Design has outlined Five Design Lessons From The Bauhaus, and Harvard Art Museum has a special collection on The Bauhaus.

Utilizing one of the country’s largest contributions to design and manufacturing was a smart move on the young watchmaker’s part.

NOMOS Glashütte

NOMOS was born out of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Roland Schwertner founded the company in January 1990, two months after the city of Berlin and the country unified. The original designs were rendered by Susanne Günther and took inspiration from the purist Bauhaus movement. Taking a look at the dial design of the old and new NOMOS pieces immediately recalls the clean and easily readable design of the Bauhaus’ graphic design.

Nomos Glashutte Tangente 33 dial detail

Looking at the Tagente 33mm model, special attention is paid to the typography and placement of the numerals and logo. You can see in other models the precise addition of color that makes a piece stand out.

2016 NOMOS Glashütte Tetra Neomatik

Released at Baselworld this year, the NOMOS Glashütte Tetra Neomatik upholds the watchmaker’s aesthetic and manufacturing standards.  The one that grabs attention is the Tiefblau model. With green second numerals and the DUW 3001 caliber, the watch is a standout. The caliber is only 3.2mm tall and is one of the thinnest movements out there.

Nomos Glashutte tetra neomatik tiefblau

Creating an ultra-thin caliber allowed the watchmaker’s Tetra to have a 33mm case size, perfect for smaller wrists.  The Bauhaus movement’s designs, like the Wilhelm Wagenfeld WA 24, NOMOS creates watches for the masses. Mass-manufacturing and mass-consumption cut costs so well-executed design could be afforded by anyone in a variety of accessories including lamps and chairs.


Since a watch’s true function is to tell the time accurately, that is what the watchmaker focuses on. All movements are made in-house and the NOMOS Glashütte Tagente’s Alpha caliber, one of the first contains a power reserve of approximately 43 hours. NOMOS uses laser engraving on the caseback for maximum legibility and precision. Like Gropius and co., nothing is left up to chance.

Caseback of a NOMOS Glashutte

The newest movement from NOMOS is the DUW 3001, which achieved chronometer standards and is complete with the NOMOS swing system. This swing system, like Bauhaus concepts has been implemented into many products. Mass production was vital to Gropius’ school and didn’t’ mean that the individual spirit was lost. When a customer puts on a NOMOS, he or she is wearing a watch and movement created and engineered by experienced craftsmen.

NOMOS is actually a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, the movement that proceeded Bauhaus. Whether in manually wound or automatic movements, the watch’s inner workings are also an artistic achievement. All NOMOS calibers are famed for their extraordinary precision; they are adjusted in six positions in order to achieve the best results. Many architectural firms and design agencies are within this collective and adhere to guidelines in order to “create commercial work in collaboration with art, industry and craft”.

About Katie VanEtten
Katie VanEtten is currently on the staff at International Watch Magazine and is excited to be writing for the Govberg Jewelers team. With a background in advertising and design and limited working German proficiency, she admires the minimalist approach of any NOMOS Glashütte piece, especially the Tetra.

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