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Decent Danish Design: The Pioneer Chronograph

- By Keith Lehman (VA) 02/10/21

Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph lying in snow
Photo by Keith Lehman.

Denmark isn't typically associated with the field of horology, but it isn't a stranger to it either. The works of astronomers and clockmakers Olaf Roemer and Jens Olsen can be viewed in Copenhagen. Watchmaker Jürgen Jürgensen, who founded a famed watchmaking company, Larpent & Jürgensen, and his son and successor Jules, are noted figures in the annals of horology.

Enter Nordgreen Watch Co. which debuted on Kickstarter, an online funding platform, on January 3, 2018. The company successfully funded over 200% of its goal the very next day. The campaign was led by Denmark native Jakob Wagner, an award-winning, 25-year veteran of industrial and product design. Three watches, the Philosopher, Infinity, and Native, were offered. Their designs were inspired by the city of Copenhagen. The team at Nordgreen wished to capture three aspects of their city: minimalist Scandinavian design, affordability, and sustainability. Today, Nordgreen employs more than 60 employees worldwide and offers two additional watches, the Pioneer and Unika, along with the original three. The company continues to seek the noble goals originally set in its initial campaign with Wagner as chief designer.


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Holding hands of a man an woman with a Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph on the man's wrist
Photo by Keith Lehman.

The Pioneer Chronograph

Winner of the prestigious 2020 Red Dot Award for industrial design excellence, the Pioneer chronograph was praised for its “purist design and easy readability." Further, Red Dot stated, "The Pioneer chronograph embodies comfortable elegance, which comprises a subtle hint to sustainability.” I received my watch in the mail two weeks after ordering it via the user-friendly website. I chose the 42mm silver-colored case with the white dial and silver mesh bracelet because I wanted to challenge my affinity to leather straps and numbered dials.

The Pioneer came in an attractive, eco-friendly box made with sustainable materials. The watch was well secured and came with a nicely packaged set of instructions and certificate of authenticity. After reading the instructions, it only took a few minutes to adjust the strap to my wrist size and set the correct time. The chronograph seconds hand had drifted a few seconds, as they sometimes do, but that was remedied by a quick visit to YouTube (https://bit.ly/3t7Remp) to learn how to reset a quartz chronograph movement. The silver-colored case is well designed and harmonizes nicely with the dial, diamond sapphire crystal, and mesh bracelet.

The watch is easy to read thanks to the sunken white metal dial and clearly marked denotations. The red tips on the chronograph second and minute hands are also a nice touch. The watch wears comfortably on the wrist, and I found something new to admire with every glance to check the time.

A man sitting on a couch holding an acoustic guitar wearing a Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph on his wrist
Photo by Keith Lehman.

Even for watches I like, I can usually find something I could do without. This watch is an exception. The printing and raised marks on the dial are immaculate as well as the date numbers and laser etching on the back of the case. The smooth bevels of the sunken dial have a pleasant 3D effect that makes it easy to read without losing its minimalist principles. The stamped Nordgreen logo on the crown and mesh clasp adds a professional touch.

In addition to making award-winning timepieces, Nordgreen is committed to becoming 100% carbon-neutral while adhering to ethical, social, and environmental business practices. Its “Giving Back Program” allows customers to choose between three charities that focus on either health, the environment, or education. Each watch comes with a unique serial number that is used to pick a desired charity to which Nordgreen donates a portion of its proceeds.

Nordgreen certainly has competition when it comes to quartz designer watches from Scandinavia, let alone in the global market. Many of these rivals boast the same aesthetic qualities with lower price tags. However, a wise man (my brother Bo) once said, “Good things are seldom cheap and cheap things are seldom good.” The quality of this watch is top-notch, and the company’s commitment to sustainability and ethical practices makes the $279 USD price a fair exchange for what you receive in return.

Technical Specs:
Pioneer | White Dial - Mesh
Case Thickness: 11.9mm
Case Width: 42mm
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Case Color: Silver
Dial Color: White
Glass: Domed Sapphire Crystal
Movement: Japanese Quartz
Strap Width: 20mm, Silver Mesh Strap — 42mm
Interchangeable Straps: Yes
Water Resistant: Up to 5 ATM (rain resistant)
Price: $279 USD
Website: www.nordgreen.com


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