NOMOS Glashütte Ludwig Duo and Ludwig 38 enamel white
It seems NOMOS Glashütte has somewhat gone back to its roots this year by bringing their original in-house and hand-wound collections to new heights. With Saxon watchmaking celebrating 175 years in 2020, Lambda and Ludwig are hitting the spot like never before, and their latest releases are the most refined Lambda and Ludwig, respectively, in a generation. The headline news is that enameled dials are becoming mainstream at the brand's workshop in Glashütte. The Lambda and Ludwig anniversary collections have sold out in a blink of an eye; I foresee, therefore, more timepieces to adopt such a technique soon.
The last in a row are the Ludwig Duo and the Ludwig 38 pictured here. Among them, the Ludwig Duo is the first NOMOS watch for her to combine a small hand-wound mechanical watch with a white enameled dial. Conversely, let's expect the neomatik-powered products to close the gap sometime soon. When looking for a quintessentially classic wristwatch, a manually wound timepiece is unquestionably a collector's choice. However, if you're opting for a Lambda, whose power reserve is an outrageous 84 hours, you're winning hands down against most self-winding siblings. Also, an enameled dial adds that kind of subtle refinement you won't necessarily find on any self-winding NOMOS counterpart so far, automatic Ludwig 175 excluded, making the package more compelling from an enthusiast's perspective.
NOMOS Glashütte's enameling technique is as minimalistic as its Bauhaus-inspired design; the color palette is so pure, and the multi-layer application so precise, with a meticulous cleaning process between one layer application and the following one, that the outcome is a flawless dial. The former looks flat and less glossy than anywhere else; you usually need a close-up to recognize one from the other. The Ludwig Duo, whose name states this is a two-hand timepiece, measures 33 millimeters across while the Ludwig 38 adds a small, slightly recessed, seconds counter at six.
To sum it up, they are similar in specs and features, while they're geared towards different audiences. The Ludwig Duo is by no means a ladies' watch unless you have a very tiny wrist; the Ludwig 38 (37,5 mil across) is for him and her, also, at least on paper. They house the exquisitely finished Alpha hand-wound movement, the most widely used NOMOS caliber ever and one of the first to be developed when the manufacture started operations in 1990.
It is a reminder of how beautiful watchmaking was during the fifties and the sixties, for example, and comes decorated according to Saxon watchmaking standards, which means the main bridge showcases the Glashütte ribbons on top. It does not stand out as a long power reserve movement, given the 43 hours of maximum charge when fully wound; nonetheless, it is an equally outstanding performance for a caliber this small: ten and a half lines across and just 2,6 millimeters thick. Such a small size allows the Ludwig Duo and Ludwig 38 to measure 6,5 mil and 6,7 mil respectively. They are so thin that the Horween-crafted Cordovan leather strap looks thicker than it is.
In my opinion, the brand is adopting a top-down approach in an attempt to add its entry-level offering that same refinement you'll find across their premium offering. The Ludwig Duo retails for 1,060 Euros, and the Ludwig 38 for 1,580 Euros instead; it makes for the most accessible NOMOS classic three-handers. They can't rival a Lambda's refinement and charm, nor its technical prowess; nevertheless, the two new Ludwig watches are the best first-price luxury watches on a budget, something even the most luxurious boutique brand in the benchmark can't currently equal.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®