Mad or Nomad

Well I did it – I bought one of the 3 contenders discussed in my last post and whilst any one of them would have been OK, I admit to being influenced greatly owing to an offer I couldn’t refuse!  (160% off) and maybe surprised myself by getting the Wenger Nomad or in this case – the Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race Compass LED Nomad (model 70434).

Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race Nomad LED Compass

Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race Nomad LED Compass

This model differs from the 70430 Nomad as it has the black PVD treated stainless Steel case and top bezel.  The case screw back is standard stainless steel with the Wenger logo in the center, model number and notes Water Resistance as 100m (10bar) so OK for swimming or snorkeling.   The Stainless Steel used in this watch is 317L grade, which is a high quality low carbon alloy.
It also has a bright GREEN digital LED display (stealth) instead of the more common Red.

As size was important and this watch whilst 43mm diameter also has considerable depth at 15.2mm and weighs incl strap at 101gms, so is a serious chunk of Stainless on your wrist.  It’s about as large as I can take (170mm wrist), the thickness adding to the equation and certainly justifies my concerns on size with these function watches.  For example a 45mm diameter watch with a similar depth would simply be too big for me.  So I’m relieved to say this one is a good fit and extremely comfortable, owing much to the excellent flexible thick black silicon strap with black metal buckle.

At 43mm Dia & 15.2mm Depth - this is my limit - but very comfortable.

At 43mm Dia & 15.2mm Depth – this is my limit – but very comfortable.

On top there is a “fixed” bezel  with text denoting functions of each of the 4 neat unobtrusive push buttons.

The watch dial has a black background with white luminous coated numerals and the white colored hands are skeleton.   Whilst Wengers description doesn’t say, the hands also have white luminous coated arrow tips.
The luminous quality is about average though irrelevant as a single push on the TIME pusher @8 and the large Digital LED Display fires up bright green.  There is also a red colored center seconds hand.  The clear flat mineral crystal is described as “Sapphire coated” by Wenger.  I assume this is a synthetic Sapphire overlay to give increased scratch resistance.  I would guess this is similar to Seiko’s Sapphlex.  A hardened mineral crystal laminated with sapphire.

The LED display is a gem and images on most web sites and this one too don’t do it justice!  (you’ve got to take the photo quickly (5 secs) and it tends to focus on the hands!).  It is however – Very large, very bright and very clear and push the appropriate button, Day, Date and Month or Time can be displayed, each for 5 seconds per push.

Green LED display on demand - here showing time

Green LED display on demand – here showing time

Year is not shown, but is set and shown on initial setting.  It’s possible to set the Digital Time as a 2nd Time Zone if required.  The button @2 operates the Digital Compass – a short push and compass indicates with LED dash markers running across the center of the face from 9 to 3 for a few seconds, simultaneously a small Green arrow shows under the Red Swiss Army Cross @12 (in effect illuminates the cross) which is the watch direction, then large Green LED numerals denote the heading in degrees in the watch center.  The display remains lit for 30 seconds.

Compass reading 359º - shows direction for 30 seconds.

Compass reading 359º – shows direction for 30 seconds.

As usual before using the compass it must be calibrated and this model allows Magnetic Declination input and this is easily done just after calibration.  In my locality the declination is quite small at 2º 9’ west (or -) and this compensates for the difference in Magnetic North and True North.  Once set the Digital Compass should indicate more accurately.  These little magnetometers are limited in accuracy, so a general heading is all you can really expect and common sense for the rest!

To calibrate this model place the watch horizontally on a flat surface and press the Compass button for 3 seconds.  This brings up CAL on the LED display.  Then turn the watch clockwise steadily and slowly for 2 full revolutions.  The LED display will alternately light small markers clockwise and across the dial.  When you’ve completed the turns you can either leave it – it will automatically read the heading for 30 seconds then switch off,  or press the Compass button to input any magnetic declination – pressing the DAY button adjusts the Declination angle figure from 90 to – 90.

Magnetic Declination can be found easily online on various sites but you can also use your UK Post Code (saves you entering Latitude & Longitude or GPS co-ordinates) at the Geomag site HERE

It has to be said that for serious compass work I doubt anybody uses a watch Digital Compass anyway – but as a quick indicator of direction and heading if you are out in the hills it can be useful.

However  I’ll definitely still keep my Recta map compass under my Tilley hat when out and about – just in case.

A good point I noticed – the use of the 2 o’clock position button as the Compass is very sensible as I wear my watch on the left wrist, it can easily be operated on the move as it were (with the watch horizontal of course) with the right hand.

I almost forgot the ordinary time functions – The analogue time is set and adjusted using the main crown and the date, day, digital time, month and year adjusted with the various buttons – very simple.  In addition the day/date/month format can be changed from Month/Date to Date/Month so good for UK users.

Conclusion –

Really quite pleased with this model.  It’s solidly built and with a dark matte PDV treated Stainless Steel case and I like the excellent and large LED display, which is very easy to read.  The Wenger LED Nomad tells me the Time, the Date, Day, the Month, has a 2nd Time Zone if required and has Digital LED Compass on demand, that tells me more or less where I’m heading as and when I need it.  It’s very comfortable and fits my wrist nicely – and I was lucky enough to get it at a bargain price.

What more do I need?


The other Swiss Army model ST-5000 by Victorinox is slightly different in operation.  When the compass button is pushed the watch specifically indicates North.  You then pick your direction of travel and then swing the watch to the direction required and “lock” it into the system.  Then hold the watch horizontally, press the compass pusher and check the light display whilst turning the watch – and when the Green is lit – that’s your heading again.  However it doesn’t have a DAY or DATE indication, so a VERY basic watch with a Digital Compass is all it is and a little disappointing.

Another option is the Wenger Compass Navigator– which has a small liquid filled swing out compass – really neat.  Doesn’t have the fanciness of Digital, but it’s quite practical.  However as I got the Nomad at a knock down price – it would be double what I paid . . .  And considering you can get a liquid filled map compass for under a £5 note – it makes you wonder just what we’re playing at?

More on that in my next post.


Categories: Watch reviews

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