5 Amazing Danish Watch Brands With Impeccable Design

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William Barton Avatar by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Aug 05, 2020
macro photo nordgreen philosopher on model wrist

Type in “minimalist watch” and you’re bound to fall out of your chair. Every other brand that pops up is some other “Danish-inspired” blah, blah, blah.

In this article, we cut to the real deal and bring you our five favorite Danish watch brands.

Best for the minimalist
  • Excellent quality, value-packed minimalist watches
  • This brand is very eco-friendly—each purchase funds a donation to one of three amazing causes
  • Get 20% off with code THEADULTMAN
Best for the recycler
  • Watches made with the recycled parts of iconic vehicles, like the Porsche 911
  • High-end automatic timepieces
  • Perfect for fans of Porsche, Ford Mustang, Mini Cooper, or the British Spitfire
Best for the quirky
  • Minimalist dials with interesting case-shapes
  • Most models use Swiss quartz movements
  • The most minimal dial designs out of our top picks
Best for the Zen-master
  • Blend between Scandinavian and Japanese minimalist
  • Models available that aren’t so strictly minimalist
  • In over 60 stores across the US
Best for the bargain-hunter
  • Vast range of watches from minimal to complicated, inexpensive to pricey
  • Danish inspired design, but American owned
  • Smart watches available

They say Denmark has the happiest people

After all, the Danish invented “hygge,” which is basically the art of coziness

Copenhagen harbor is reportedly clean enough to swim in. Their national anthem is Queen’s “Bicycle Race” (not true but would be awesome).

And they’re masters of minimalist design. 

To honor the Scandinavian legacy of simple and stunning designs, we put together a list of our favorite Danish watch brands.

Why Buy Danish?

The Danes don’t have the same watchmaking legacy as the Swiss or Japanese, but there are plenty of reasons to choose a Danish watch as your next timepiece. 

The most obvious reason is the design. 

Copenhagen is filled with creatives that blend boundaries between form and function. For instance, Jakob Wagner, the legendary designer behind Nordgreen watches, Bang & Olufsen, and several other iconic brands keep his studio in the city. 

But another trend we’ve noticed as we’ve covered more brands from Denmark is their devotion to minimizing their ecological impact and leaving the world a better place. 

We love when apparel companies forego some of their profits to give back to their communities. Nordgreen does an excellent job at this and each purchase makes a donation to one of three causes: education for a child in India, clean water for folks in Central Africa, or protected rainforest in South America. 

The Best Danish Watch Brands

1. Nordgreen

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Based in Copenhagen, Nordgreen crafts beautiful, affordable minimalist watches. They’re a carbon-neutral company and have a generous giving-back program that makes a donation for every watch sold. 

We’ve reviewed all three of their models: the Pioneer, the Native, and the Philosopher

While we were fans of all three, we think the Pioneer and the Native deserve a little more attention. 

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Nordgreen is at the top of our list because of their ability to balance aesthetic, value, and eco-friendly policies.

What We Like

  • The Native and Pioneer are both inexpensive watches, but they have top-quality materials like domed sapphire crystals. 

  • When you buy a Nordgreen watch, they’ll make a donation to a cause of your choice. 

  • Their Native and Philosopher watches have two sizes available, so gents with more slender wrists might prefer the 36mm.

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s difficult to pick a bone with Nordgreen. We’ve had minor issues with a few of their models (like the Philosopher), but they’re excellent value and we love their commitment to giving back. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Nordgreen gets a lot of love for their watches online. Over 800 reviewers on Feefo give them a 4.8-star average. You can also check out their Trustpilot page where they’re sitting on a 4.9 with over 1,200 reviews.

Fast shipping and great customer service came up time and time again. Many praised their minimalist aesthetic, and while that’s a subjective detail, it’s clear from the ratings that customers were just as happy with the service.

The Verdict

Nordgreen sticks to a few staple models that capture the beauty of minimalist design, but still offer something refreshing to look at. 

If you want that classic Danish aesthetic, you’ll be pleased with Nordgreen’s quality. 

When it comes to eco-friendly company policies, Nordgreen is a leader in the watch-world, which is a big bonus for us as we try more and more to lessen our impact. 

Designs like the Native can double as a dress-watch and a casual watch, so it’s worth giving these versatile timepieces a look.

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Nordgreen
(Get 20% off with code THEADULTMAN)

Created by the famous Nordic designer behind Bang & Olufson, Nordgreen’s minimalist watches are as stunning as they are simple. While we struggled with minor issues like glare, these timepieces are classic wardrobe staples.

Shop Nordgreen Read Our Review
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2. REC

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Recover, Recycle, Reclaim.

That’s REC’s mission. 

They’re a Danish watch brand that uses salvaged parts of iconic vehicles in the dials of their timepieces. 

We took their 901 RWB Rotana for a spin and had fun with it. The brand’s 901 series is designed to reflect the Porsche 911, but the RWB Rotana has a street racing spin on it.
Using the bonnet of legendary RWB mod-shop owner, Akira Nakai’s personal Porsche, the REC 901 RWB Rotana is an elegant homage to street racing history.

What We Like

  • The look of REC watches is completely unique and not at all minimalist.

  • Each piece has a part of engineering history in it. 

  • Extended three-year warranty and an excellent unboxing—REC goes the extra mile to ensure you have an experience. 

What We Don’t Like

  • Their watches can be pricey.

  • The movements are good, but they’re not great, especially considering the price. 

What Other Reviewers Say

We looked at their Facebook page and found that over 70 folks have given them a 4.8 out of five. 

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One story stuck out in particular. A gentleman dropped his watch and shattered the sapphire glass. He sent it back to REC expecting to pay a fee as he acknowledged it was his fault for dropping the timepiece. REC replaced the glass for no fee and no questions asked.

The Verdict

If you love classic cars (and the occasional classic fighter jet), you’ll want to have a look at REC.

Their designs featuring the reclaimed parts of beloved engineering icons are complex and fun to look at, even if you’re not a motorhead. 

The brand’s customer service is top notch. If you can afford the higher price-tag, you won’t be disappointed with their attention to detail. 

REC Watches

Reclaimed, recycled, reused: this is what REC stands for. Each REC watch is made with a piece of engineering history. Whether the dial is cut from a Spitfire part or the caseback includes a recycled wheel well of a Mini-Cooper, each design is inspired by iconic vehicles.

Shop REC Read Our Review
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3. Bulbul

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Bulbul sticks to the Nordic tradition of minimalist design, but they’ve thrown in a little personal flair. 

While the dials are sparse (none have numbers, but a few have small indices), their unique draw is in the shape of their cases. 

Their Pebble and Oblong models are quirky and fun, but look sophisticated enough to avoid kitschy-territory.

What We Like

  • Most models are made with quality materials like Swiss movements and sapphire glass (the Topo is still quality, but it’s less expensive and it’s materials reflect that).

  • Boundary-pushing limited edition colorways available.

  • The Pebble and Oblong models have shapes we haven’t seen often—they’ll stand out on your wrist.

What We Don’t Like

  • Straps are not interchangeable.

  • No information about shipping readily available.

What Other Reviewers Say

Most reviews for this timepiece mention the amount of compliments the wearer gets. But there really aren’t many reviews out there for Bulbul

A couple professional watch sites had a look at the Pebble and reviewed it favorably. The gist of those reviews is this: solid construction, nothing dazzling, but the design is great.

The Verdict

The Swiss quartz movements and sapphire crystals are nice, but even better are the odd shapes and colors Bulbul styles their watches with. 

If you want a minimalist look that’s a little outside the box, this brand is worth a shot. 

There’s not too much information about Bulbul online—they’re not as established as Nordgreen or REC, but you can check out their stock on Amazon if you like what you’re seeing.

Bulbul Pebble Swiss Ronda 762 White Dial Men's Watch

Bulbul's innovated case shapes stand out from the crowd. If you want a conversation starter, give Bulbul a shot.

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4. Obaku

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Obaku watches draw equally from Scandinavian minimalism and Japanese Zen. 

Their watches are affordable and they have a few designs that balance utility and clean aesthetics.

Many of their models are only available in store, but many of our favorites are available on Amazon.

What We Like

  • Obaku has several retailers nationwide so you can try the piece on before buying it. 

  • We like their Dato model for its interesting date dial.

What We Don’t Like

  • Other brands like Nordgreen and REC have a much more generous return and exchange policies.

  • Many of their designs don’t seem to draw from Scandinavian or Japanese minimalism. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Over 200 reviewers have left their thoughts about Obaku on Trustpilot. They give the brand a 4.5-star average with over 200 reviews. 

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Most people mentioned they enjoyed the designs above all else. Negative reviews are mainly because of the pain involved in shipping. 

Obaku ships from Hong Kong, and if you need to return your watch, you’ll have to send it all the way back.

The Verdict

Obaku makes solid fashion-watches that can add a little zen into your wardrobe. 

The mechanics behind their timepieces aren’t too impressive, and their return policy is rough. But a few of their models are unique and affordable enough to try.

Obaku Men's Analog-Quartz Watch with Stainless-Steel Strap

A blend of zen and classic Danish minimalist, Obaku designs watches that reflect the circularity of life.

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5. Skagen

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Ok, ok, Skagen isn’t Danish. But the founders took a visit to a tiny fishing village of the same name in 1989 and came back with a drive to spread the word about Scandinavian minimalist design. 

Now owned by Fossil, Skagen makes everything from compact quartz watches to smart watches.

What We Like

  • Massive variety of watches available.

  • Several nice looking watches under $100.

  • Skagen is available in most watch stores.

What We Don’t Like

  • They don’t post information like crystal material or movement type.

What Other Reviewers Say

Professional watch reviewers (they can be a tough crowd to please) tend to like Skagen watches for what they are: inexpensive watches look fashionable and have that sparse minimalist beauty many folks are after. 

Negative comments are usually directed at Skagen’s online store—it seems they haven’t got the ordering process down online yet. To get around that problem, we recommend going through Jomashop. They have a wide selection of Skagen watches and many of our readers have had positive experiences with them.

The Verdict

If you’re on a tight budget (under $100), but you don’t want to miss out on the minimalist watch craze, check out Skagen.

The brand doesn’t make anything wildly inventive, but the price is fair and their brightly colored timepieces work well in casual wardrobes and everyday wear. 

Beware of ordering through their online store—you may not have any problems, but the reviews we saw made us think that ordering through Jomashop or Amazon is a better choice.

Skagen Men's Ancher Quartz Stainless Steel and Leather Watch

Skagen Denmark is actually from Denmark. But they could fool me. The brand's minimalist take on watches aren't the best quality, but they're inexpensive and fun watches to have for weekend excursions and backyard bbq's.

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Wrapping Up

Whether you’re looking for a minimalist beauty or you just want to support brands from one of the happiest countries on the planet, we hope you found a little something special on our list. 

From Nordgreen’s understated and elegant designs to REC’s audacious homages to horsepower in all its forms, it’s clear Denmark offers more than hot cacao, blankets, and candles on a cold day.

FAQs

Are Danish design watches any good?

Some brands are, and others aren’t. You need to do your homework before you buy. Watch brands like Nordgreen offer a fantastic balance between affordability and quality.

Is Skagen a luxury brand?

Skagen is not a luxury brand. However, their watches are very affordable and some models are quite stylish.

Are Skagen watches made in Denmark?

No, Skagen is a US based company and owned by Fossil.

Are Obaku watches good?

Obaku watches are built for style. Watch enthusiasts aren’t crazy about Obaku because there isn’t anything interesting about the internal mechanics. But if you like the look, the watch movement is solid and should last several years.