Hands on with the Nodus Trieste diver

Dive watches are a dime-a-dozen, and independent brands sometimes skimp on quality or originality to make a market. Not the Nodus Trieste. It stands out with exceptional build quality, subtly unique details, and two price points that both deliver great value. This is the first watch from LA-based Nodus—I hope it’s the first of many.

The first thing you notice about the Trieste lifting it out of its wood box is the substantial heft, due to the burly case and bracelet. Polished elements on the sides of the case and bracelet are nice, but they do little to break up the sea of satin finish on the rest of the watch. On the calipers the body is reasonable at 41 mm x 13 mm, but it looks and feels bigger thanks to its weight and angular lugs that look almost flat from directly above. The bracelet is solid stainless from end-link to end-link, which adds more heft. On my 7″ wrist it is big but still very comfortable.

The standout feature on the Trieste are the reverse-tapered stick hands that grow larger from the center. That reverse taper puts a lot of SuperLuminova BGW-9 (blue) lume right where it helps to tell the time at a glance, but gives the hands more interest than a straight stick. Needlepoint tips allow for precise measurement. It’s a very functional set up that distinguishes the Trieste from the pack.

A lollipop second hand rounds out the handset. The “pop” is a gently tapered rectangle, that echoes the shape of the major hour markers. The minor hours are chromed lume dots. Every marker is a substantial applied assembly with good lume/chrome proportion. The lume is solid, both in its ability to grab a quick charge from ambient light and its longevity.

All that makes for a nicely balanced dial that is equal parts legible and stylish. The dial can also include a color-matched date wheel at 4:30, which is unobtrusive but legible.

Timekeeping is always automatic, but it can be done in one of two ways: either a Swiss STP1-11 at $500 or a Japanese NH35A at $350. Both hack and hand-wind and are regulated in four positions by Nodus. I had a NH35A version, which kept great time. For those trying to decide, it is worth noting that the Seiko does tick a bit slower (21,600 bph vs. 28,800 bph) and that means more noticeable stutter in the secondhand’s sweep. It’s also slightly less accurate, has 2-hours less power reserve, is undecorated behind the solid caseback, slower to change the date at midnight, and it clicks when you wind it.

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The dial is ringed by a fantastic 120-click unidirectional bezel with a sapphire insert in black, burgundy, or blue. The insert is lumed and perfectly fine, but the bezel itself is the star. It clicks with a deliberate authoritativeness unlike most anything else at this price point. The only problem with the bezel is that I ended up spinning it just to hear the clicks. And spinning it. And spinning it. It’s fantastic.

The Trieste also hits a lot of standard dive watch high notes: 200m/660ft water-resistance, double-domed sapphire crystal with blue AR on the underside, screw-down crown, solid caseback. One missing element is a lack of diver’s extension on the clasp, but it is otherwise high-quality and offers four degrees of micro-adjustment. The bracelet itself is easily adjustable with screws connecting 7 of the full-sized links (removing 3 gave me a perfect fit on the largest micro-adjustment).

There are plenty of great dive watches out there on the independent market, like the Borealis Cascais Diver or the NTH Santa Fe and Näcken. But the Nodus Trieste is a contender with a bit of personality and tremendous build quality at a reasonable price—no matter where the movement is made. noduswatches.com

Nodus Trieste

  • Price: $350USD (Seiko NH35A); $500USD (STP1-11)
  • Who’s it for? Divers, both desk and deep sea.
  • Would I wear it? Yes, in either Swiss or Japanese flavors. But if it were my money, I’d be of the Asian persuasion.
  • What I’d change? Add a diver’s extension, thin the case a bit.
  • Standout feature? Reverse-tappered hands and a wickedly clickity bezel.

Tech Specs from Nodus

  • 316L stainless steel case
  • 41mm width | 13mm thickness | 50mm lug-to-lug | 20mm lug width
  • Swiss STP1-11 or Seiko (SII) NH35A movement (regulated in four positions)
  • Sapphire crystal | Double-domed with blue AR on underside
  • Sapphire bezel insert | 120-click uni-directional bezel
  • SuperLuminova BGW-9 (blue) lume
  • 200m / 660ft water-resistance
  • Steel bracelet with screw-in links and flip-lock clasp
  • 24-month warranty
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