Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch review

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REVIEW – Today, we’re taking a step back from all the fancy smartwatches and health trackers and focusing on a classic timepiece, the Pioneer Chronograph Mens Watch from Copenhagen-based Nordgreen.

What is it?

The Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch is a 42mm men’s chronograph wristwatch featuring a stopwatch with large second hand and minute sub-dial, a second sub-dial, date window, and a minimalistic, Danish-designed face.

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What’s in the box?

  • Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch
  • Extra bracelet links
  • Manual
  • 24-month warranty card
  • Certificate of authenticity

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Hardware specs

  • Danish design by Jakob Wagner for a timeless look
  • Case Thickness: 11.9mm
  • Case Width: 42mm
  • Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
  • Case Color: Silver / Rose Gold / Gun Metal
  • Dial Color: White
  • Glass: Domed Sapphire Crystal
  • Movement: Japanese Quartz
  • Strap Width: 20mm
  • Strap: 3-Link
  • Strap Color: Gun Metal / Silver / Rose Gold
  • Interchangeable Straps: Yes
  • Water Resistant: Up to 5 ATM (Rain resistant)

Design and features

I’ve been collecting watches for a couple of years, now, and I’ve come to appreciate the simple joy of a well-designed timepiece. There really is something to be said about a finely-tuned analog wristwatch, whether it’s adorning your wrist as a fashion statement or strictly used as a time-measuring tool.

The Pioneer from Nordgreen is my first watch with any sort of chronograph functionality, and it’s been interesting finding ways to incorporate the convenience of a stopwatch on my wrist. I feel it would be best to focus on the design and functionality in equal measure.

Design

The Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch face is heavily influenced by Swiss and Danish minimalistic design. It reminds me of other watch designs I’ve seen by Braun, Bulova, and Nomos, to name a few. It’s a classic, clean design that looked good 75 years ago and will still look just as relevant for another 75 years and beyond.

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The Pioneer with a vinyl NATO strap, sporting the colors of the Norwegian flag.

The clean, white face is devoid of any Arabic numerals, opting for elongated pill shapes for the hour marks and a simple tick line for the minutes. The small date window located at the 6 o’clock position displays the current day of the month and is the only area with number markings.

The minute and hour hands are slender but stand out well, and include a stripe of white in the center of the hands. This would have been the perfect place to include a thin strip of luminescent paint, and I imagine the only reason for the lack of lume on this watch is to keep the color scheme consistent. I have lume on almost all of my other watches, and it does tend to be a greenish off-white in the light. I get it, form over function, but personally, I would have preferred at least something to see the time in a dim or dark room.

You will have immediately noticed the large, silver hand with a swath of red at the tip. This is the second hand for the stopwatch functionality, which we’ll get to in a moment.

There are two large sub-dials located in the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions. The left sub-dial keeps track of elapsed minutes for the stopwatch, and the right sub-dial features a second hand that is continuously counting the time in seconds.

You’ll notice the left sub-dial hand has a matching red tip as a visual cue that it’s the partner of the large stopwatch hand.

Aside from the prominent Nordgreen Copenhagen logo in the 12 o’clock position, that covers the design of the face.

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Timing the blooming and steeping of my morning coffee is a lot easier, now.

I’m not sure how I feel about the difference in the markings between the left and white sub-dials. I think I would have preferred them to match, both with 60 ticks on them, just for the symmetry, but I suppose it does offer some additional interest in looking at the face as a whole.

The Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch case comes in gunmetal gray brushed stainless steel. I love brushed metal as opposed to polished, as it better hides the inevitable scuffs and scratches, and is overall less “flashy” than a highly polished case. The metal 3-link bracelet that came with the watch matches the case and is quite comfortable. I was happy to find that it was a good fit right out of the box, and comes with a few extra links.

Removing links from a metal bracelet isn’t too bad if you have the proper tool to do so, but it might be easier to simply take it to a jeweler or department store watch counter, as they might fit your strap for you for little or no cost.

Also worth noting is the included straps from Nordgreen are quick-release. The pins holding the strap in place on the lugs have a little knob on them to allow you to compress the pins and remove the entire strap in seconds. This is a common feature with modern straps, so swapping out your strap is a trivial matter.

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Here we can see how the design fo the watch lends itself to a wide variety of straps, changing the look from classy to casual in an instant. From left to right, we have leather, silicone with stitches, multicolor NATO, navy NATO, and leather NATO straps.

The back of the Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch case sports a nice logo, a logotype for the watch model, and some extra information around the perimeter of the case back.

There is no window to see the inner workings of the watch itself, but since it features Japanese quartz movement, you wouldn’t be seeing all the fun gears and mainsprings present in a mechanical or automatic watch, so this is fine.

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Looking at the front of the watch again, the crown is positioned at 3 o’clock, with two matching steel pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock, respectively. The top pusher starts and stops the stopwatch and the bottom pusher resets the stopwatch minute and second hands.

The sapphire glass is domed, which offers some additional interest and smoothness versus a flat glass embedded into a surrounding bezel. I like it, that domed look refracts the light that shines through it and creates some interesting effects on the face in the sunlight.

The overall width of the Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch is 42mm and the case is nearly 12mm thick, which feels a bit on the large side for me. For comparison’s sake in the photos, I have a (probably rather thin) 7.25” wrist, and 42mm is likely as large as I would go, personally. That said, I don’t think it looks too large on my wrist.

The strap size is a common 20mm, and given the quick-swap nature of the included metal 3-link bracelet, changing straps is very quick and simple. No tools are required.

I have quite a number of 20mm straps and have swapped them out every few days while wearing the Pioneer. Unsurprisingly, given the minimalistic design and color scheme of the face, the watch looks amazing paired a wide variety of straps.

It’s amazing how quickly the overall tone of the watch changes, taking it from business/dressy to weekend casual with one quick swap of the strap. Personally, the leather strap with the thread accents is my favorite.

Lastly, the Pioneer has very little to speak of in terms of water resistance. At 5 ATM, that would place this watch in the “can wash hands or handle some raindrops, but don’t submerge” category. I wish it was a little better than that, but then again it’s not a diver watch or something you’d wear to the beach, and would survive a quick dunk or spill without getting water under the glass.

Functionality

The Pioneer is a chronograph watch, so it heavily features a simplified stopwatch function. I say “simplified” because many other chronographs out there have additional sub-dials to keep track of minutes and hours, and have units of measurements circling the perimeter of the bezel to track things like miles or kilometers per hour and fuel usage, which are helpful for racing or flying.

This chronograph measures seconds and minutes, and that’s it, but I believe it still counts as a useful tool built right into your wrist. I used the stopwatch function to track the time my teabags steeped, track my kid’s reading time, and a bevy of other time-critical activities. I was pleasantly surprised by how handy it is to have a stopwatch that can be triggered by a quick press.

Resetting the stopwatch with the lower presser sends the second hand zooming around the entire watch face back to the 12 o’clock position and flips the minutes tracked back to zero.

Really, it’s the convenience factor that does it for me. True, a smartwatch or phone can easily start a stopwatch, but it’s often buried in an app requiring multiple taps. For me, one exposed presser right on my wrist that I don’t even have to look at to use is much quicker.

Since the Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch features a quartz movement, it eliminates to need to wind or wear the watch simply to keep it “charged.” I believe the battery should last a few years, and it keeps very accurate time. From my experience, most of the quartz movement watches I’ve owned only gain or lose half a second per day, whereas my mechanical or automatic watches tend to be around +/- 3 to five seconds per day.

What I like

  • Clean, versatile face and case design
  • Stopwatch function is a handy feature
  • Quick-swap straps

What needs to be improved

  • Lume on the minute/hour hands
  • More water resistance would be nice

Final thoughts

Overall, the Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch is a beautiful addition to my growing watch collection. Its minimalistic design fits with fancy or casual wear and the quick-release strap system is great for switching up the look. The price is right for those looking for more of a “grown up” watch with a timeless style.

Price: $314 (with the 3-link bracelet strap)
Where to buy: You can purchase this Pioneer watch variant, exactly as reviewed, directly from Nordgreen. Nordgreen also has many other face color, case color, and strap variations of the Pioneer. The type of strap affects the overall cost. Check out the full collection here.
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Nordgreen.

5 thoughts on “Nordgreen Pioneer chronograph watch review”




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  2. Very Nice review. I love the classic look of this time piece. it is classy and unique and really draws attention to the face of the watch. I, like you, wish it was a higher rating on the water resistance rating though.

    1. I hear you! I mean there are a lot of watches out there that aren’t made for dunking, but there are a lot that *are,* too. That remains my biggest gripe. Most of my other watches are at least 100m so I don’t even think twice about wearing them in the shower unless it’s got a leather strap.

  3. I think that with this watch one is paying a high price for style. Quartz, very limited functionality, little water resistance, challenging dial to squint at—I think it’s way overpriced. Perhaps the euro/dollar rate is awful?
    Is the bracelet easy to size or better to visit jeweler?

    1. It’s almost all style, true. The bracelet is easy to remove because of the quick-swap nature of their straps. The adjustment isn’t terrible if you have a tool for doing so, basically a thin metal tool for pushing out the pins between the links. I’ve done it several times for adjusting metal bracelet straps, just requires a little bit of force to remove the pins and push them back into place once you remove one or two links.

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