Here’s an interesting perspective: Durable, high-performance materials and environmental sustainability can be inextricably linked.
Now what do you get when a watchmaker relentlessly commits to that mindset?
Well, a lot of things, but among them is a 100-year warranty.
Mix that with deliberate Scandinavian design, and you’ve got the Nordgreen Guardian.
Greenwashing is, frankly, good for business. Copenhagen-based Nordgreen is unique though. It’s born of the sustainability movement, their company philosophy rooted in the Nordic culture’s connection to nature.
From the beginning, founders Vasilij Brandt and Pascar Sivam built Nordgreen specifically to provide accessible Scandinavian watches while promoting actionable environmental practices.
And now they’ve built a flagship, a timepiece that epitomizes all of that, while also foraying into the automatic watches market.
The Guardian is a pretty impressive watch. Every detail is clearly labored over, both on the environmental side and on the performance factor.
Guardian by Nordgreen: Specs
To sum it up, here’s what Nordgreen’s Guardian offers:
- Case, Bracelet, and Crown Material: 85% Recycled S316L stainless steel
- Available Case Diameters: 36mm, 40mm
- Movement: Miyota 9039 Automatic
- Dial Protector: Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
- Dial: Painted brass
- Water resistance: 100m
- Price: $799 USD, part of which is donated to your choice environmental cause through Nordgreen’s Giving Back Program
- Packaging: 3D-printed recycled PET plastic bottles
- Warranty: 100 years, with a buy-back program that either brings the watch back into the supply chain or in to be recycled
Again, this watch is built with the partnership of durability, function, and sustainability in mind—as is the brand’s business model.
Jakob Wagner Distills Nordgreen’s Brand Aesthetic
The Guardian’s designer, Jakob Wagner, is an industry vet. He worked with Bang & Olufsen and B&B Italia among many other important brands, before joining Nordgreen and winning them Red Dot and IF awards.
Wagner brings his Nordgreen-specific Danish minimalism to the Guardian, connecting it to the rest of the brand’s range. Features like the multi-level dial and the short stick indices make it clear that this timepiece is in the same family as the Philosopher and the Pioneer.
Introducing the Guardian
The Guardian is simplified, deconstructed even, then leveled up with dimensionality added to every single element, big or small. Basically, Wagner provides us with just the bare essentials, but the most effective versions of these essentials.
For example, the three levels on the painted brass dial are subtle and the center is adorned with a high-shine conical titanium ring. It’s small, but so exquisitely polished that it reflects like a mirror, effectively complementing the beautifully textured stick hands and matte dial.
Meanwhile, the indices sport a cut-out aesthetic, creating a recessed kind of depth. Compare this to the one-dimensional yet curved markers of the Pioneer, or the applied indices of the Philosopher. Each of the Guardian’s hour markers sport a different level of gray, providing visual intrigue.
The tip of the second hand is adorned with a circle at the end, which encapsulates each and every circular second marker. Other than adding another ingenious touch to the overall subtle design language, Wagner added this to symbolize the importance of every second in time.
The use of an H-bracelet is clever, since it’s as versatile as an oyster, but the lack of unbroken vertical lines matches the minimalist look better, especially with the hooded lugs.
Bucking the bigger-is-better trend, the Guardian comes with a 40mm case or a 36mm case. Between the two classic sizes, there’s an option for all wrists.
As outlined in their in-depth white paper, Nordgreen went to generous lengths when considering potential materials for the Guardian. With the help of Danish sustainability experts, they conducted in-depth research on standard watch materials, the “sustainable” alternative materials that brands often use for their greener sublines, and several other alternatives.
They made quantitative comparisons regarding energy consumption, their C02 footprint, and usefulness in the watch’s construction. In fact, Nordgreen looked into everything from transportation to manufacturing, but discovered that material extraction made up over 90% of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
Again, environmental practices are in Nordgreen’s DNA. Their Giving Back Program
allows you to donate part of each watch purchase to one of their causes focusing on health, education, or environment.
For the Guardian, they wanted this Nordic sustainability factor literally built into the watch, the same way it’s built into the business. Corrosion resistance, impact resistance, and lifetime durability are also factored into the sustainability equation.
Pioneering the Connection Between Sustainability and Performance
So what’s the result of Nordgreen’s research and development project? A stainless steel construction that’s 85% recycled, which is the highest you’ll find on the market. Nordgreen uses SS 316L stainless steel for the Guardian, which is the low carbon version of the regular 316. They also work with Outokumpu, who supplies the most sustainable stainless steel in the world.
Relatedly, every single piece of the Guardian comes from a supplier that signed Nordgreen’s Code of Conduct and Banned Chemical Declaration. Even the sleek packaging, which is 3D-printed using recycled plastic bottles, is delivered via electric van from Sweden to Denmark.
Nordgreen equips the Guardian with a sapphire crystal, not just because it’s the premium option, but because their research shows it has far less environmental impact than mineral glass does. The dial’s sapphire protector is flat, so as to minimize potential breakage, while the screw caseback gives the watch a proper seal and 100 meters of water resistance.
Every single component is qualified to deliver both of Nordgreen’s promises: A watch that will last 100 years and environmental responsibility.
Nordgreen Enters the World of Automatics
It makes sense that Nordgreen would get in on the automatics game sooner or later. After all, the batteryless power supply is better for the environment. That they’re doing that while simultaneously introducing a flagship does give the Guardian an undeniable cool factor.
The Guardian runs on the Miyota 9039 Caliber, which is part of Citizen’s premium 9000 line of movements. It’s a 24-jewel automatic known for its accuracy, hacking, and being effectively anti-shock. Miyota introduced the 9039 in 2018 as the less oil-dependent 9000 movement, which is one of the reasons Nordgreen chose it. Less oil means less frequent maintenance. Worst case scenario, Citizen movements are famously serviceable.
You’ll operate the watch using the t-bar crown, which matches the rest of the watch’s practicalist yet sleek aesthetic. It’s placed low into the case, as are the crown guards, which ensures that the clean silhouette isn’t interrupted too much.
Wagner designed this crown with 12 grooves to match the 12 hour markers on the dial. This represents our connection to the encased and protected timekeeping device. He wants you to feel as if you’re interacting with the sealed universe under the sapphire.
The use of the Miyota movement seems even more deliberate given this symbolism, since the 9039 boasts a hefty sound. Between that and the tactility of the crown, the Guardian should prove to be enjoyable to the horologically curious.
A Century-Long Watch
By designing the Guardian to be environmentally sustainable, they also ended up making it sustainable as a consumer product. At around $800, you’re looking at a watch that’s guaranteed to last 100 years. This isn’t just a marketing copy either. Each Guardian comes with a warranty guaranteeing it’ll last you a whole century, from the date of purchase. As with any good warranty, production defects are fully covered too.
Additionally, Nordgreen has a unique buy-back program for the Guardian specifically. At the end of its use life, you can sell it back to the company to get back a percentage of the original price. They offer 18% for a fully functional Guardian, 10% for a non-functioning but physically undamaged one, and 7% for a damaged watch. From there, Nordgreen will either recycle or revive the watch, depending on what’s possible.
This is in line with the brand’s philosophy on product circularity. From concept to delivery, Nordgreen considers the environmental impact of the Guardian’s whole life cycle. While material extraction is the most impactful stage, they still choose a movement that needs minimal servicing, then beyond that, take the watch’s afterlife into consideration.
Not only do they make sure that a finished Guardian can be reintroduced into the supply chain in some way, but even set up this program to make it easier for you to get your watch reused or recycled. This is a real step towards carbon neutrality, and one more significant than most watch brands have ever taken.
Nordgreen even partners with an organization called The Carbon Funds, a non-profit that provides options for greenhouse gas reduction and carbon offsetting to businesses, other organizations, and individual people. By supporting their projects in either renewable energy or forestry, Nordgreen lessens the Guardian’s carbon footprint.
Innovation and Cross-over Appeal
The non-superfluous nature of Scandinavian design is arguably the purest version of combining form with function. Coming from a place of Danish sensibilities allows Nordgreen to weave environmental impact into minimalist design language in a natural way.
The Guardian is likely to catch the attention of Tesla drivers, Tom’s wearers, and the horologically inclined. Sure, it’s responsible and well-built, but there’s also a cool-factor to the design’s unforced efficiency.
Jakob Wagner encapsulates everything Nordgreen stands for and saturates the new flagship watch with it. It’s a familiar, but quintessential composition, and leveled-up on the sustainability front. Moreover, with the brand actively welcoming Guardian-wearers to participate in circularity, they’ve created a watch that plays a functioning role in cementing their pro-environment mindset in the community.