Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph, hands-on review

Danish brand Nordgreen dedicates meticulous attention to sustainability, primarily by ensuring that their quartz watches are durable and high-quality.

Only rarely do I write reviews about quartz watches, but I was happy to make an exception for Nordgreen. This brand based in Copenhagen is as green as its name, and it believes that sustainability can be achieved by means of a combination of quality – so you will never want to dispose of the product – and durability – so that you will never need to change it. This is what sets their timepieces apart from all those quartz watches made predominantly of plastic.

Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph

Solidity and comfort on the wrist

The Nordgreen box is blue in colour but green in concept. It is a clever combination of card and a sort of non-woven fabric that can be simply recycled along with paper and cardboard. And the watch itself is surprisingly substantial. I chose the Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph with navy dial and 3-link bracelet, partly because it won the RedDot Award in Product Design 2020. Its stainless steel 42 mm case is 11.9 mm thick, and it weighs 140 g including the bracelet, about the same as any mechanical timepiece. I have an average wrist size at 17.5 cm, and the stainless steel bracelet watch, with a functional deployant clasp, fitted perfectly straight out of the box. Nordgreen supply an extra three links if you need a larger bracelet. The lugs have a distinctive design, and slope downwards to produce a very comfortable wearing experience. A user-friendly feature consists of the quick-release springbars that make strap changing quick and easy.

Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph front

Stainless steel caseback, 5 atm water resistance

The case has a 5 atm, 50 metre water resistance, and so it can deal with rain and occasional splashes. The watchglass is in slightly domed sapphire. The caseback has an intriguing design in brushed and polished steel, a sort of yin-yang pattern with leaves, that references the brand logo.

Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph caseback

Scandinavian design influence

The dial is pure Scandinavian minimalism by Nordgreen designer Jakob Wagner, whose curriculum includes brands such as Bang & Olufsen, B&B Italia and Cappellini. Seen in real life, its colour is a little different with respect to the photos on the website. Depending on how the brushed sunburst surface catches the light, it varies between an electric blue and a deep, velvety midnight blue. The overall impression is one of generous open space, the same feeling that you get when you look at the sky at sunset, when the residual blue on the horizon becomes the deep black of infinite distance. The effect is hard to photograph. The dial has a very sculptural effect created by the curved rehaut with the minutes track at the outer edge, and the two subdials that are recessed, each with a scale on the sloping edge. The date window at 6 o’clock is nicely treated and easily legible.

Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph hands-on review

Practical chronograph operation

The slightly tapering baton hands are logically designed and colour-coded, in brushed metal with navy trim for the hour, minute and continuous seconds hands, and in navy with red tips for the chronograph seconds and chronograph minutes hands. The chronograph minutes subdial scale covers 60 minutes and so the watch can be of practical use in many situations, from boiling an egg to timing your morning run. The chronograph pushers are easy to operate and have a firm click. One way in which a quartz chronograph such as the Nordgreen Pioneer can outperform a mechanical chronograph is the graceful sweep of the chronograph seconds hand when it is reset by pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock.

Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph on wrist

Quartz convenience

The crown is fluted and large enough to be comfortable to use, providing quick date change and time setting. Pulling out the crown stops the movement of the second-hand, and this can be useful for setting the time with precision. Opinions differ on whether it can help save battery life when you put the watch away for a few days or weeks. After all, the great benefit of a quartz watch is never having to set the time, so why bother to stop the movement? In addition, pulling out the crown also allows moist air to enter the case, which would not be positive.

Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph dial detail

Giving back

The Nordgreen experience doesn’t end with the watch. After you have received it, you can go online to https://nordgreen.com/pages/giving-back-program, enter the watch serial number and the identification number provided on the Certificate of Authenticity, and choose one of three community initiatives: Water for Good, providing clean water for people in the Central African Republic, Educate the Future, to provide education for children in India, and Protecting the Rain Forest, in collaboration with Cool Earth. Nordgreen even refurbish used watches, restoring them to as-new condition, and putting them on sale in a special section of their website (Refurbished), for extra savings.

Nordgreen Pioneer, price

The Nordgreen Pioneer on a 3-link stainless steel bracelet costs €269 (£239 in the UK), or €291 (£258) in a set that includes the stainless steel bracelet and two vegan leather straps in black and brown colours. There are other bundle options available, and other models such as the time-and-date Philosopher, and the super-minimalist, time-only Native. Read more at nordgreen.com

Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph

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