Being a lover of watches I was delighted when we were approached by the guys at Nordgreen to review one of their watches. I was given a choice to review any from their range so I decided the Philosopher looked the most interesting, although all of their ranges have their merits when it comes to minimalistic Scandinavian design aesthetics.
Let’s look a little more into the watch itself. I chose the 40mm Philosopher – Rose Gold with Brown Leather strap, retailing at around £164 / $215. There are several to choose from in this range with an array of case finishes and strap options, just enough choice in my opinion to make it feel like you have a unique piece without the choice becoming over bearing! The Rose Gold case is probably not everyone’s first option but I was looking to add something a little different to my collection, if deemed good enough.
To be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this watch, not being rude but most watches retailing around this price point tend to be classed more as a ‘disposable’ watch, not really high quality or the movement you’d expect from the more well-known higher end brands.
So what were my first impressions of the watch and the company?
The company I really like, started by two lifelong friends Pascar and Vasilij who are self-professed watch enthusiasts from Denmark with a mission to bring beautiful Scandinavian design and lifestyle to everyone – they do this through their watches, design and culture.
They are also passionate about giving back, so much so that every watch you purchase from them goes towards supporting a cause from a choice on their site – you can read all about each one on their main site.
Their chief designer is Jakob Wagner, a man with a notable career working with brand such as Bang & Olufsen, Alessi, Cappellini, and Moroso! With a designer behind them of this calibre we should be expecting great things for this watch in terms of design, quality and desirability.
Of course watch brand being founded by Danes it goes without saying everything they do is simple, clean and led by design – this leads me nicely onto the watch itself.
I think we need to start by taking a look at the packaging as I always believe this is reflection of not only the watch itself but how the watch maker wants you to feel before you actually see the watch!
Let’s not however get carried away here, we are remember only talking about a £164 / $215 watch and not the packaging you’d expect for a Rolex or Breitling etc… (which can sometimes be more interesting that the watch itself!).
As you can see, the packaging is clean, crisp and simple – nothing to ostentatious or over-the-top. It does however, before even opening the box, give you the feeling that Nordgreen cares about the impression it gives before you even get to the watch.
The Nordgreen watch box is delicate in its design but solid in its construction, a good sign of things to come.
On opening the box I was pleasantly surprised, this is not the usual packaging for a watch of this value, immediately I was impressed. Well packaged, neatly presented and nice little booklet to support the watch and the company’s background / ethos – you instantly feel like you’re valued as a customer, which is this day and age is seriously important trait to adopt.
The watch was clean and untouched, you can see by the photo, it comes with all the protective seals and covers you’d expect from higher end watches (hence the reflection from the plastic cover on the face).
Upon unpacking the watch I was again impressed by the quality in craftmanship of the watch. The crispness of the white face against the rose gold really sets the watch off, the conical shaped bezel draws the eye to the centre of the dial, the beautifully elegant Nordgreen logo and the delicate but yet solid hands.
The main hands are finished in the same Rose Gold as the case but the seconds hand in a contrasting light grey – a very nice touch which again emphasises the effort and thought that has gone into every aspect of this watch.
I’m really glad I chose the Rose Gold, it felt different to most watches I have seen in this price range, some claim Rose Gold but then deliver something way short of this – the Philosopher however really does deliver on this plating. I also like that fact the case is slightly brushed, it tones down the gold a little and gives it that matt look.
The case as you can see is simple and elegant, the crown fits nicely in the case without overpowering the look and feel and the mechanism is robust yet delicate. (The pic below shows the plastic protector around the crown – packaging only)
The quality continues to the back of the case and the continuation of the brushed Rose Gold around the lugs and outer bevelled case. The contrasting polished stainless steel of the movement case is a nice touch, I also like the subtle inclusion of the Nordgreen logo and Philosopher name along with the serial number of the watch.
As far as the movement goes they have decided to choose Japanese, which to be honest is an excellent choice for a watch in this price bracket. It might not be the movement let’s say of a Grand Seiko but we’re not talking about a $10,000 watch here. The movement will be comparable to some entry level Swiss watches as the Japanese have really improved their capabilities in the last 5yrs, however, let’s not forget, you get what you pay for!
One little design feature I love is in the lugs themselves – if you look at the photograph on the right you’ll notice little strap pin head that allows you to easily release the strap so that you can quickly change the strap should you so wish. It’s a really nice feature as many people like to customise their watches and with Nordgreen offering so much choice in straps it’s something you can do time and time again.
The strap itself is genuine leather, it feels well-made and of a much higher standard than some watches I have owned in the past. The stitching is neat and even without any lose or bobbled stitching. Although the strap was quite stiff to start with it quickly softened to sit comfortably on my wrist.
I particularly like the buckle on the strap, it has a very subtle engraved Nordgreen logo on the main part of the buckle and the Rose Gold works nicely to tie this in with the main case. A very nice touch, simple yet elegant.
How does the watch feel? Well it’s a big question. I see this watch as more of a dress watch, one that sits comfortably with a suit, a well-tailored shirt and jacket – a watch at home in a meeting as it would be in a café bar or restaurant. It’s certainly not a sports or divers watch and nor should it be treated like one, especially given it’s only water resistant.
This is however a watch that can be worn everyday but I would say chose the outfit to go with the watch. Nordgreen do offer different variations of straps and finishes to the Philosopher range but in this instance the watch for me is definitely a dress watch meant for the right occasion.
I like the choice they give of case sizes as I always tend to wavier towards the large case size rather than the standard 32mm. On this occasion I chose the 40mm as I think it sits better on my wrist and I also like the large dial this size gives.
The watch is comfortable, lightweight and sits well on the wrist once you have the strap correctly adjusted. I started with the watch loose as the strap was quite stiff, as it began to wear in I have now tightened it slightly to reduce the movement (as with all watches). Of course over time the leather strap holes will start to give but with the ease of changing straps I don’t see this as an issue, more the chance to try others in the range!
This certainly is a watch well above its price mark and I’m happily surprised to find I genuinely like this watch, a lot. I have several watches I class as being ‘dress’ watches and this certainly fits into this category. It definitely packs a lot in for the money, from its simple yet elegant aesthetics to the quality and feel of the craftmanship and Japanese movement. You also get a sense you have joined a community when wearing this watch, a feeling you’re sharing in the vision of the people who started the company and embodiment of their vision.
I would highly recommend this watch and the Nordgreen range for anyone looking to buy not only into this culture but a watch that punches way above its price point, top work Gents.