It was almost a year ago when Nodus first graced our pages, with Jim’s review of the Nodus Trieste (you can check that out here). I’ve been aware of the brand in the intervening time, but had not had the opportunity to check them out in person. That is, until they went PRO! Or, you know, create a professional dive watch (as defined by the WR rating) known heretofore as the Nodus Avalon.
Avalon, according to Arthurian legend, is where good ol’ Excalibur was forged. So, that explains the vine-wrapped sword on the caseback of the Nodus Avalon. And, as far as associations for toughness, durability, and just plain usefulness goes, I can think of worse associations than that of a legendary (if likely fictional) sword. And, like that sword, the watch is made of some beefy steel. And that’s what we expect when we hear that we’re dealing with a 300m dive watch from an independent brand. What you might not expect is how well the cushion-style case looks (and fits) on the wrist.
This is due to some clever design work that they’ve done with the angles of the case. Sure, at 12.9mm thick, the Nodus Avalon is not a watch that folks will confuse for some ultra-slim watch. The design team behind this watch has put some severe chamfers on the back side of the case that make it look closer to a 10mm thickness (by my highly calibrated eye). Sure, if you stood it next to a rule, you’d see the truth of it. But the eye sees what it sees, and here, you get caught by the shiny side profile that tapers back into the shadow between the case and your wrist, and it just looks a lot slimmer than it has any right to.
In some ways, this means the Nodus Avalon feels more like it sits in your wrist, rather than on it. The overall shape of the case, particularly as it tapers into that lovely H-link bracelet, makes it feel like a more fluid, and cohesive, unit. Almost, well, like a bracelet. Albeit, a very functional one. Yes, you could find some nits to pick with the precise line the end links have against the case itself, but it’s only something that I noticed once I was editing the photos. In actual wear, not something I caught. And it really is a visual thing – the overall fit and finish of everything done on the Nodus Avalon is superb, and punches well above the price point this watch lands at.
The Nodus Avalon ships inside of a rather lovely canvas watch roll (man, do I love me some waxed canvas) that contains a few cards (warranty, timing info) along with some spare links. On my 7.25″ wrist, I just needed to add in one link, and then fiddle around with the micro-adjuster (which is a spring bar) in the clasp to get the fit that worked for me. Once set, it’s an easy on, easy off with the flip-clasp on the bracelet. All friction fit, no push buttons or anything. But back to that wallet. Yes, it came inside of a cardboard box, but that’s easily recycled. The wallet though, that’s actually useful. You can store the watch in it, travel with it, use it to protect a watch in your gym bag, or just keep some straps organized. In other words, it is worlds more useful than those fancy, highly-lacquered presentation boxes that so many brands are enamored with. Another big mark in the win column, in my book.
Then again, all the fancy packaging and clever case profiling in the world isn’t going to help a watch if it sucks to wear and read the time on. But you already knew that wasn’t the case here, right? At 42mm, the Nodus Avalon is a fairly compact diver (we might be more used to seeing 44 in this case shape) that just fits so well on the wrist. While it presents mostly as brushed and matte finishes, there are glints of polish here and there that just, as Bob Ross said, gives it a bit of sparkle. And speaking of matte – I do like a good blue dial, and this matte blue they’ve got going on with this watch is something else. While our loaner had the simpler steel insert, I can only imagine it looks that much better with the blue ceramic insert. Speaking of color – there are five different dial colors of the Nodus Avalon available (orange, blue, black, green, and white) and three ceramic bezel colors, all matte (blue, black, green). One wonders what the orange dial would look like with the blue bezel… or that’s just my Tigers (and Bears) affiliations showing. Guess I’ll stick with my Lions blues for now.
Should you be tempted to dismiss the dial of the Nodus Avalon as “just another flat, boring dial”, you’re doing it – and yourself – a disservice. I mean, look at that photo above. You’ve got chunky applied indices cutting their way into the angled chapter ring, offsetting the diamond-cut handset. So, yes, the dial itself is flat and matte, but it is far from boring. When it comes to the smaller details, there is so much being done right here it’s not even funny. Just fun. Because, at the end of the day, wearing this $625 loaner of the Nodus Avalon was a lot of good clean fun.
This is a watch that will go anywhere with you (being predominantly steel) but offers a tremendous value, what with the Miyota 9039 tucked inside. I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely continue to say it – we are spoiled – SPOILED – for choice when it comes to dive watches. With something as well sorted as the Nodus Avalon in the mix, your choice either got a whole lot more complicated (hello, analysis paralysis) or a whole lot simpler. Sure, you’re up against some established dive watch brands at this price point, but you’re not going to get this sort of funkily-refreshed vintage style, and definitely not a ceramic bezel. So, yeah, it may have been my first time with the brand, but the Nodus Avalon has made me a believer. And I didn’t even have to pull it out of a stone. noduswatches.com
- Brand & Model: Nodus Avalon
- Price: $625 (as tested), $650 (for the ceramic bezel)
- Who’s it for? Anyone who wants a pro-level dive watch. Or, you know, just wants a capable three-hander that can deal with what your life throws at it
- Would I wear it? Without a doubt – one of the best independent divers I’ve gone hands-on with in a while
- What I’d change: While not de rigueur for dive watches, I wouldn’t complain about a date window showing up. Oh, and perhaps polishing the center links on the bracelet?
- The best thing about it:It’s matte blue and has a super slim side profile
Tech Specs from Nodus
- Designed and assembled in Los Angeles, California].
- 316L surgical-grade stainless steel
- 42mm bezel width
- 43.5mm case width
- 12.9mm thickness
- 48mm lug-to-lug
- 20mm lug width
- 6.5mm crown diameter
- Crown: Screw-down
- Miyota 9039 automatic movement]
- Made in Japan
- Regulated in four positions
- Double-domed sapphire crystal
- Blue anti-reflective coating on underside
- Bezel: Matte ceramic bezel insert (fully lumed) OR stainless steel bezel insert
- Luminescence: Swiss Super-LumiNova® C3 Grade X1
- Water Resistance: 300 meters / 1000 feet
- Solid H-links
- Flip-lock button release clasp with six micro-adjustments
- 83g (watch head)
- 192g (with full bracelet)
- Matte finish
- Polished silver indices
- Polished silver
- Warranty: 24 months
- Full Kit: Nodus watch roll , microfiber cleaning cloth , warranty and regulation cards