Ludwig has been an important name throughout history. The composer Ludwig van Beethoven and the modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe are two of the most prominent bearers of the name. And we can't forget the legendary 'Fairytale' King Ludwig II, who reigned from 1864 to 1886 and built the extravagant Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.
In another part of Germany, the manufacture Nomos Glashutte has looked back to the tradition of its own time with a classic timepiece named Ludwig. It comes in a completely polished, 7mm-thick case with features reminiscent of a pocketwatch. The diameter of 37.58mm slopes away from the very narrow bezel, which leaves the greatest amount of space for the dial, to the midsection and then down to the press-fit caseback with its sapphire crystal window. Elegant lugs emerge seamlessly from the case and slope downwards, attaching the Horween Genuine Shell Cordovan brown leather strap, typical for Nomos but almost too plain for this wrist-flattering watch.
According to Nomos, the delicate-looking glossy white enamel on the dial of this Ludwig model, our test watch, is unbreakable thanks to modern manufacturing technologies. Itâs the only Nomos dial to feature Roman numerals exclusively, alongside fine markings and a minute railroad track. Like the stainless steel case itself, this calls to mind early pocketwatches.
A Classic Case, Dial, and Movement
Roman numerals, which may be rare in the watch world, have always been a feature of the Ludwig. The white enamel dial, however, only came into the collection in 2020, with the introduction of a special edition that marked 175 years of watchmaking in Glashutte. The Ludwig experienced a revival, according to the manufacture, and the special edition sold out in short order. Perhaps this has something to do with the still-ongoing retro trend and the generally high demand for classic watches. In any case, itâs reason enough to introduce a production model with a white enamel dial to the collection.
A watch can hardly be more classic than the Ludwig. This also holds true for the movement. The Alpha calibre is the oldest and also the most-often used movement at Nomos. This thin hand-wound movement exhibits every characteristic feature of Glashutte watchmaking: A three-quarter plate, rhodium-plated surfaces with Glashutte ribbing and Nomos perlage, Glashutte sunburst finishes on the ratchet and crown wheels, blued screws, and a stop-second mechanism to permit the precise setting of the time. Nomos regulates in six positions, with chronometer values as its standard. Our test watch corresponds to these rates by showing a gain of between 3.5 and 5.5 seconds per day and runs best when on the wrist.
Admittedly, daily winding takes some getting used to. But the small yet readily grasped crown is easy to handle and use when partaking in this daily ritual. If you look through the sapphire crystal caseback, you can clearly see how the Glashutte click or ratchet mechanism works. The small pawl is guided in an elongated hole by a screw. It glides forward over the ratchet wheel during the winding process, making its characteristic sound, and then the recoil from the elongated hole returns it to its locking position. Removing peaks of torque from the mainspring in this way prevents damage to the gear train.
The rounded case shape makes it easy to pull out the crown to the setting position. And because there is no date display, setting the watch is extremely simple. The slim, tempered blue hands with their balanced proportions contribute to this. The minute hand can be positioned perfectly over the threshold of the railroad minute track. Whether you find this watch magnificent, practical, or magical, the Nomos Ludwig will likely join the ranks of its legendary namesakes.
All images: Nomos Glashutte