Another day, another watch launch. With the sheer number of microbrands out there, there’s a new launch nearly every day. Indeed, it can be hard to keep up with everything. Not everyone has time for microbands, and I get that. Still, I got into this hobby via this affordable segment, and I still love seeing some of the great pieces that make their way out of the din and onto our wrists. Today, I am looking at the sophomore launch of a brand I wasn’t familiar with. It’s the Nordic Marine Instruments Søværn. A friend brought Nordic Marine Instruments to my attention when asking for my opinion. Sadly, having never seen the watches, I had nothing to say. A quick bit of research revealed some attractive watches, so I contacted the brand to get one of its new Søværn watches in hand and see what it was all about.

As the name suggests, Nordic Marine Instruments hails from the Nordic region of Europe, specifically Denmark. Just a cursory glance at the watch here reveals nods to the Nordic heritage through the classic Scandinavian design principles of simplicity, minimalism, and functionality. The Søværn combines these elements into a rather handsome package. The name “Søværn” translates from Danish to “Navy,” and indeed, the brand describes this timepiece as a “Navy-field watch.” While I’m not sure what NMI means by that, it doesn’t feel wrong. Of course, this is certainly not a field watch by the classic definition. It lacks high contrast for instant legibility, and some would argue that a lack of numerals instantly disqualifies it. That said, I would suggest the “field” nomenclature is perhaps used in spirit only.

Nordic Marine Instruments Søværn

The Søværn case is, quite simply, excellent

The case is one of my favorite parts of this watch. It appears to be the same mid-case as found on the brand’s first launch, the Østersøen, only now a fixed bezel replaces the rotating one. Notably, the strong, purposeful polished bevels on the upper and lower case flanks and the bezel are pretty aggressive but in a good way. Likewise, the case has smaller internal bezels on the lugs where the bracelet connects to the watch. The design exudes confidence, and that’s something I like to see from microbrands. The transitions between the contrasting polished and brushed finishes are sharp and make this case feel like it comes from a watch several times the price. It’s lofty praise, but the case and bezel are genuinely impressive.

Measuring 39mm in diameter, 47.6mm from lug to lug, and 10.5mm thick, the Søværn has nice proportions for many wrist shapes and sizes. A 20mm lug spacing means that strap options are plentiful, and the bracelet’s quick-release pins make swapping it for straps a breeze. I split wear time between the stock bracelet and a third-party grey ribbed NATO strap.

But what could be improved?

Of course, with any watch, especially at a price point of just US$549, some things could perhaps be improved. Two elements that could benefit from slight refinement here are the crown and the bracelet. Let me preface this by saying there’s nothing wrong with them functionally. However, with how good the case is, some subtle tweaks could take this watch to the next level. For instance, the signed screw-down crown looks a little “vanilla” due to its excessive grip tread. A different design with a less-is-more approach to the grip would be great.

Likewise, the Oyster-style bracelet is well-machined and comfortable on the wrist. It articulates nicely and tapers from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm at the clasp. Function-wise, I have zero complaints. The slim deployant clasp is rather lovely too, and one of the best in class at this price. The tool-less micro-adjustment feature is effortless. That said, the bracelet could benefit from a polished bevel along the upper edge. Perhaps not as hard as on the case flanks, but a little flourish would complement the case nicely. It would help lean into the slightly less tool-first aesthetic that this watch has. I want to reiterate that I have no issues with the bracelet’s quality. Indeed, that is excellent.

Nordic Marine Instruments Søværn

A thought for the future

My final thought is the attention to detail that sets good microbands apart from great ones. The end link is of a single-piece construction but is milled to give the impression of a three-piece build. I would have preferred to see Nordic Marine Instruments go for an actual three-piece format. It’s more assertive and shows more confidence in design. It may sound a little harsh since this is only Nordic Marine Instruments’ second launch, but it’s something to consider for the future. It’s subtle things like this that make a great watch even better.

Nordic Marine Instruments Søværn wrist shot

Similarly, I would love to see a semi-shrouded fit from the end link to the case. Fratello’s Thomas van Straaten recently implemented this into his beautiful VPC Type 37HW watch, and the effect is superb. It gives the illusion that the bracelet runs straight through the case. Of course, the VPC is a more expensive watch, but that concept could work wonders on a watch like this. Of course, all this would raise the production costs for the brand, which must trickle down to consumers. It is a tough pill to swallow, but it is sometimes worth increasing the price slightly when the overall impact outstrips the added costs. By no means a deal-breaker, but food for thought. With how nice this case is, these ideas would be nice upgrades!

Nordic Marine Instruments Søværn

The six flavors of Søværn

Nordic Marine Instruments offers the Søværn in six different colors. Each model has a Danish name; I appreciate the brand sticking to its Danish origins. Himmelblå (Sky Blue) is self-explanatory, whereas Fuldmåne (Full Moon) features a full-lume dial with a yellowy tint in daylight. Next up is Midnat (Midnight), which has a classic black dial, and Mosgrøn (Moss Green), with a dark green dial. Kulsort (Pitch Black) is all-out black with a DLC case and bracelet and a black dial with beige Super-LumiNova. Finally, Stålgrå (Steel Gray) is the version I had in for review. I’d say the gray version is probably my favorite (how convenient!), followed by the green one. I think the more traditional and mature colors are the best fit here, but I have no doubt the light blue, full-lume, and blacked-out versions will have their fans too.

Keeping it simple

In classic Scandi style, the dial is immaculate and simple. A dashed minute track on the periphery is interspersed with small white lume plots for the hour markers. Each cardinal marker features a contrasting red lume dot. These constitute one of three subtle red accents on the dial. The inner portion features a delicate texture and uses a sandwich construction with slim, rounded baton cutouts for the indices. A beveled window at 6 o’clock displays the date. The branding is simple, with an applied logo at 12 and the brand name printed underneath. At 6 o’clock, you’ll find “Søværn” in red (that’s number two) and the 100m water resistance rating in black. The final red accent is on the tip of the seconds hand, which also features a subtle anchor-shaped counterweight, referencing the brand’s logo. The lumed hour and minute hands are simple but functional, with their size complementing the baton hour markers.

Nordic Marine Instruments chose the automatic Miyota 9015 to power the Søværn. It’s a reliable movement but nothing visually spectacular, so I am glad to see it hidden behind a simple steel case back. For a watch claiming to be “function first,” I approve of this decision.

Price and availability

Nordic Marine Instruments has released the Søværn for pre-order now. While you may read the word “pre-order” and shudder, fear not as the production is already well underway, with deliveries slated to commence in July/August. The brand has self-funded the production up front, so the delivery time is reasonable. Each watch will come with a cork watch roll, a screwdriver for bracelet adjustment, and a branded polishing cloth. It’s an excellent package and even more impressive when considering the accessible pricing. Currently, you can pre-order for US$449, saving $100 from the retail price. I’m unsure how long the introductory price will remain, so it may be worth pulling the trigger sooner rather than later if interested!

Nordic Marine Instruments Søværn pocket shot

Final thoughts on the Nordic Marine Instruments Søværn

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised by the Nordic Marine Instruments Søværn. Having handled and worn the watch for a week or two, I now feel comfortable providing my friend with a glowing report. I think this is a very well-made watch for the price, and if you like the design, then I would have no qualms in recommending this watch. Even at full RRP, the Søværn competes aggressively from a specs point of view.

Visit the official Nordic Marine Instruments website for more information, to see the full lineup, or to place an order. Which color is your favorite? Are you planning to pick one up? Let me know in the comments!

Watch specifications

Stålgrå (steel gray) with lightly grained texture and luminous indices
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
39mm (diameter) × 47.6mm (lug-to-lug) × 13mm (thickness)
Flat sapphire with super-AR coating on underside
Case Back
Stainless steel, screw-in
Miyota 9015: automatic with manual winding, 28,800vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve, 24 jewels
Water Resistance
10 ATM (100 meters)
Stainless steel three-row bracelet (20/16mm), push-button folding clasp with toolless micro-adjustment, and quick-release pins
Time (hours, minutes, seconds) and date
US$549 (initial pre-order price of US$449)