Now and then, it seems like there’s just one big, fat line between watch brands and fashion watches. But is there anything in between?
I suppose the term “designer watch” applies in some cases. That’s exactly how I’d describe the Nordgreen brand.
This is a review of the Nordgreen Philosopher in 40 mm.
- Material – 316L stainless steel
- Crystal – Mineral
- Case diameter – 40mm
- Thickness – 7.84mm
- Lug to lug – ca. 41mm
- Lug width – 20mm
- WR – 30M
The Philosopher, like other Nordgreen watches, is a design by Jakob Wagner. Now, you might not have heard the name before, but if you have any Bang & Olufsen retailer nearby, you’ve surely seen his work.
For a good few years now, he was the man behind the exterior design of a lot of their products, including all the headphone sets and car audio exterior elements. If you’re familiar with furniture from Moroso or Cappellini, that’s also him.
Long story short, all Nordgreen watches are designed by one of Scandinavia’s busiest and most valued designers.
If you see the watch, you might immediately say that it’s similar to other Danish brands. I suppose that’s true – after all, most of them follow a design trend that can be best described as modern Danish minimalism.
To me, it’s a thing of design in time. Think of it this way: American watches of the 1930s and 1940s were mostly defined by a flamboyant Art-Deco style. So, you’d get an ornate case, often a faceted crystal, numerals with either some oddly neo-Gothic thing about them or altered Breguet numerals. If you’d look at European designs of the same period, they were heavily influenced by Bauhaus. You’d get a simple, not to say dainty case with sharp edges, thin and elongated numerals, and thin, stick hands.
So, the “it looks like the rest” thing can be dismissed as a case of a design trend that belongs to a location in a given period. If you’d ask several Danish design studios to create a watch design, the results from all of them would likely share a lot in common.
Like other Nordgreens, the Philosopher comes in a beautiful box made of recycled materials. They also include a woven bag made of fibers from – you guessed it – recycled materials.
That’s a nice touch, I think. The bag doesn’t make good gift packaging – it’s more of a practical item for daily use.
I must say that I like the case on this one. It’s a two-piece design – a solid main bloc, with a press-in gasketed case back. The finishing throughout is excellent – fine brushing, sharp edges.
The case profile is hard to describe. I don’t pretend to know why, but the Trekkie in me is reminded of the saucer section of the Enterprise from the original 1960s Star Trek series.
The lugs protrude only slightly – if at all – from the bowl-like lower part of the case. It doesn’t look like the lug-to-lug is more than the diameter of the case itself. Usually, that would probably cause a top-heavy feel. Here, it doesn’t. The surface of the case back and the lugs form one arc, sitting firmly on the wrist. The watch is light, so I suppose there are no weight and balance issues to speak of.
The sloped sides extend slightly above the crystal, creating something of a collar, with its inner side polished. I’m not sure if it’s a design element or if it’s meant to protect the crystal from impact. It won’t be much help against the corner of a table, but it’ll do its job of protecting the crystal from door frames and table edges.
The crown, like the rest of the case, is finely brushed, with a machined fluting pattern on the outer edge, and an engraved Nordgreen logo. If I had to describe it, I’d say it looks like a jet exhaust.
The watch is available in two case sizes – 36 and 40mm, and three finishes – steel, gold-plated, and a “gunmetal” finishing. The version tested here is steel with a silver dial and a navy blue strap.
In this case, it’s 30 m. Nordgreen describes it as “rain-proof,” and I agree with them. The watch can withstand submersion (it certainly had to in order to obtain the rating and pass inspection), but I’d strongly advise against swimming with it. It’s a dress/casual watch, not a holiday beater.
It’s simple. Simple and clean. No less, it’s fascinating.
The center section is a matte silver color, with a nicely faceted date window. That’s a very thoughtful touch. I saw scores of watches, where the date window was just a rectangular hole, with no effort made to make it look good. I’m glad that’s not the case here.
The raised rehaut with the hour markers and the minute track is nicely done. With the oil-pressed circular pattern, it looks a bit like a vinyl record.
The applied hour markers have a brushed/satin finish to them. This presents a nice contrast to the well-polished hour and minute hands.
All that is topped with a slightly unusual touch – an asymmetric seconds hand finished in a gloss gray lacquer. It adds a little pinch of the right kind of chaos to an otherwise simple, clean, not to say orderly design.
The movement is a go-to choice of most brands. A three-hand Miyota quartz with quickset date. Nothing special here. Just a good, old, reliable workhorse.
The tested version has a navy blue Italian calf leather strap. The watch is available in several colors and material strap/bracelet options.
Initially, it was my least favorite part of this watch, as it took its time to break in. However, once it did, it became comfortable. It has a beautiful surface finish, stitching of good quality, and soft lining. Just like other Nordgreen straps, this one’s equipped with a quick-release system on the spring bars.
The lug width is 20mm, so you won’t be short on options for an aftermarket strap. However, I see no reason to replace the really good stock strap. At least not until it wears out. If you’re set on using OEM straps, they sure are an excellent choice in this case.
All in all…
While it’s anything but my usual kind of watch, I like this one. Perhaps it’s precisely because it’s so unlike the rest of my watches. As I see it, it’s nicely finished and gives an overall impression of, by all means, a decent watch.
If you’re into modern art and minimalist design, or if you’re looking for a watch for someone who is, the Nordgreen Philosopher would be a great choice.
Is it a good piece for daily wear? Daily wear – yes. Daily beater – no. It would be a shame to let it get battered. It’s not a Timex Weekender or a G-Shock to knock it around.
Given how simple and versatile the design is, it’ll look good with just about any outfit. You can wear it with a suit, and you can wear it with jeans and a worn-out T-shirt.
It’s simply a well-made piece that’s never really out of place.
For more info, check it out on the Nordgreen website. Use the discount code WAHA for 15% off.
What do you think of the Nordgreen Philosopher? Let me know in the comments below.