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Wenger Nomad Compass Watch Review

Nomad003cWenger has introduced a new watch to the outdoors market, and not only is it a functional piece of equipment, it will also add a touch of class to your next outdoors adventure.





Nomad004aIn another week or two, it’s going to be Thanksgiving.  If your family is anything like mine, this event signals the unofficial beginning of the holiday season for the year.  So, not too far down the road is Christmas, and a lot of folks are already getting their shopping done, and Wenger’s new Nomad Compass watch might be something to consider for the outdoors person in your life.  Myself, I’ve got a few watches, but they are all business style timepieces.  So, when I head out, I typically don’t have a watch with me.  In all honesty, I never considered getting a watch for my dirt time, but after getting done playing with the Nomad, it’s definitely at the top of my list now.  As most are aware, Wenger not only makes Swiss Army Knives, they also make high-end prouducts like packs, shoes, and watches as well.  When I was at the Outdoors Retailer show in July, I got my first look at the Nomad and was told that I’d get one to try out so I could share my thoughts with everyone.

Nomad006aWell, let me just get one thing out of the way.  Even though the Nomad is tough and functional, it’s every bit as attractive as any business or casual style watch I’ve seen.  Even though the styling and red trim may not be the best choice for a black tie event, it will work for just about every occasion you can imagine.  It’s just a different type of beauty than the run of the mill dress watch.  The band is a slightly elastic, rubberized material that’s very comfortable and secures the watch quite nicely.  Some of the more technical aspects include a specialized Swiss movement, a PVD engraved bezel, and a surgical steel case.  With the integrated LED functions for day, date, time, and the compass, it all comes together in a nice ensemble that will do the job and help you get there in style.  The Nomad is rated to 100 meters for water resistance.  Now, I’m a little curious about that turn of phrase.  To me, if it’s good to 100 meters, then it’s waterproof.  I’m not sure why the term “waterproof” wasn’t used, but I’m not a diver, so it’s not very important to me.  It’ll stand up to any bad weather that I’m likely to encounter in the outdoors.

As you can see, the numbers and the hands are nice and large, so it’s very easy to tell the time and not have to guess at it like some watches with very tiny numbers or no numbers at all.  If you want to be a little more precise or you want to time something, you can access the time via the LED display as well by simply pressing the time button on the side.  In setting both the analog time and the digital time, you can synchronize the two with the instructions from the instruction manual.  In fact, it’s recommended that you synchronize the two, otherwise the digital time may not display properly.  I think the other buttons are pretty much self-explanatory as to what they do including day, date, and compass.  But, once you get to the comass function, you’ll need to refer to the book to make sure that you have it calibrated correctly and to learn how to use it properly.  The calibration is just to get it set for the correct declination as you would with any compass.

Nomad010aUsing the compass is fairly straightforward and easy to remember once you see how it’s done.  To get a ready, you simply hold the watch parallel to the horizon and point the Wenger cross toward the object or direction you intend to travel.  The compass bearing of the target will show in degrees in the following manner:

  • 0 = North
  • 90 = East
  • 180 = South
  • 270 = West

Additionally, the compass will automatically compensate for declination if you enter the setting for your area during the calibration set-up.  The instruction manual includes a list of popular cities along with their declination settings to make it even easier for the user.

Unlike knives or other pieces of gear, it’s kind of hard to “test” something like the Compass watch.  It either works or it doesn’t.  It’s not going to wear out or get dull.  It’ll just need batteries every now and then.  It has just enough functionality to make it useful, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed by trying to get different things to work.  I had a Swiss Army watch years ago that did about 33 different things, but to get them to work, you had to do a sequence of specific actions with just one knob (the crown) and hop around on one leg to get them going.  The Nomad is much simpler to use and set up correctly and does everything that the average user is going to need.

Nomad002aI had the Nomad for review for a little over a month, and during the few weeks that I had the chance to wear it and use it, I came to like it very much.  It very quickly became a piece of my every day gear whether I was hitting the trail or not.  The only downsides are that the hands are not visible in the dark as the numbers are, and the Nomad is just a little pricey.  But, when you get out on the net and do some shopping, you’ll find that that the price of the Nomad watch isn’t out of line at all.  Though it retails for $375.00, you can find it cheaper.  I did a little looking around and found it for about $100 (U.S.) less at a few sites.  I guess I’ve been out of the watch market for a longer period of time than I though.  At that price, I don’t think you’ll have much to complain about.  It comes with a three year international warranty, but it certainly looks and feels as though it was meant to last a lifetime.

So, whether or not you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone or a gift for yourself, the Compass Nomad watch is definitely a very nice item that’ll bring a smile to the lips of whoever receives it.  The unit I had was a demo item and had to be sent back, but I liked it well enough that it’s going to be my next puchase–if I can’t get it as one of my own Christmas gifts.  If you or someone you know enjoys playing outside and could see the digital compass technology, that’s even more reason to give it a hard look.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


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