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.


Compass compacts 4

I had almost forgotten this analogue model from Swiss Army – the Wenger Nomad Compass 70430 LED.

Wenger Nomad LED Compass Watch

Wenger Nomad LED Compass Watch

At first glance it looks as if it could be an ideal size at 43mm diameter and the dial set up also looks very clear with large skeleton style hands in white Super Luminova luminous material (as are the numerals).  Without using the LED the dial has a simple black background and with the LED function large red LED figures appear.

Operation – On pressing the Compass button a red arrow will light just below the Wenger Cross and the compass will calculate, then display very quickly the heading in large LED red figures across the centre of the dial.  As the button function is “on demand” it displays only for 30 seconds then it will turn off automatically.  The compass can be calibrated and also the declination angle can be set at the same time.  The declination angle being the difference between Magnetic North and True North (Pole), which is different depending where you are in the world.  Most maps show the declination angle in Minutes/Degrees east or west and these can be input to the watch using the compass button.  Once input the Nomad will automatically compensate the bearing for you.

As with most of the digital compasses the watch should be held horizontally to take accurate readings.  Basically to take a compass reading, point the top of the watch (with the red arrow @12 towards the direction you wish to follow, then press the compass button.  The compass bearing of that direction will then show in degrees in large RED numerals.  North for example will be 0º, East 90º, South 180º and West 270º.  I note however that there is no “heading memory” so once you have established the heading you wish to follow, you’ll have to remember it as it can’t be “locked” into the system.

A specially designed Swiss Quartz movement is used and contained in a brushed finish stainless steel case with a black PVD bezel, upon which are shown the functions of the watch in rather large red lettering,  a proper steel screw back and Water Resistance of 100m.  The LED digital display also shows day, date, time and Compass plus a 2nd Time Zone, so quite well specified.  The bracelet is a conventional lugged (22mm) fitting and there are alternative versions that feature a silicon rubber strap and also some have a GREEN LED, which I personally might prefer.

So what you get here is a nice solid conventional looking watch with large white numerals in an uncluttered black dial, with a center second hand (always nice to see that the watch is running!).  The “Stealth” LED display, on demand remember, only pops up if you want to check the day, date, month with the appropriate button and the compass lights up when you press compass – now is that simple or what.  I’m warming to this already!

So here you are – if you want a solid performer with an unfussy dial set up and a compass function that is not over complicated, then this might be a worth while choice.  And from my point of view at 43mm diameter and only 10mm depth, should fit my wrist very well.

It is also around half the price of the Tissot T-touch and the Victorinox Pathfinder, which is of course another consideration.

So yet another contender . . . . it would appear that my choice is becoming more complicated.  I think Part 5 (goodness what have I started?) will have to be a serious re-think perhaps of what I actually want, after all.  Mmmmmm . . . . . this I did NOT expect!