Nodus Trieste

Cullen Chen and Wesley Kwok of Nodus Watches have just launched their debut piece, the Trieste, an affordable, 200m, automatic diver's watch that can go longboard to boardroom and back. Have we heard this before? Of course we have. That may very well be the most common and yet the most difficult design brief in all of watchdom because just about every micro, independent, and mass-market heavyweight have produced a similar offering. The fellows at Nodus think the Trieste has what it takes to survive in this crowded field, and the sent me a pair of press loaners to prove it.


Many watches in this genre take their cues from the Rolex Submariner but Nodus appears to have channeled the Blancpain Bathyscaphe. I wouldn't go so far as to call it an homage so much as an inspiration. The Trieste is a single model available in a choice of two finishes (steel or PVD black), three bezels (black, red, or blue), and two movements (NH35a or STP1-11). The dial is only offered in black with a date window option. I received two watches that covered almost everything, one of each movement: a steel/blue/date and a black/red/dateless.


The Trieste has a 41mm stainless steel case with long, tapered lugs that curve gently away from the barrel and terminate in tight, clipped ends. Spacing is 20mm and the lugs are drilled for easy spring bar release. The case sides are flat and horizontally brushed with an intentionally pronounced grain that is offset by a narrow, polished chamfer that runs their length. The upper surface is brushed north-south as is the link bracelet. These surface effects are also apparent on the black version, lending subtle depth to the otherwise stealthy case.



Overall length is 50mm and it is 13mm thick. It is a stately design that is nicely executed. All the edges are crisp without being unpleasantly sharp and the arc and taper of the lugs eliminate unnecessary bulk. It was an easy fit under my shirt cuffs and looked perfectly appropriate on my modest wrist.


Atop this case is a double-domed, anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal surrounded by a unidirectional bezel with a cleanly defined coin edge. Bezel action is reassuringly firm, moving through its 120 detents without wobble or back play. The insert is sapphire with a BGW9 SuperLuminova dive timer. This is a huge plus in my book. I always appreciate a little something special in terms of bezel design or materials, and this glossy beauty delivers appealing gloss and depth of color.


Like the bezel, the signed crown is also cut with a deep coin edge. It operates without fuss, screwing down smoothly, and is large enough to afford easy grip without protruding too far from the case.

As mentioned above, you can choose the dial in any color you like so long as it's black. Given the case and bezel options, this is not quite as limiting as it may seem. It also helps that Trieste has an exceptionally handsome dial. Again, you can see some Bathyscaphe in the applied, polished, and lume-filled wedges and circles that mark the dial, the brushed rehaut, the polished syringe hands, and even the 4:30 date window. Yet the Trieste still manages to go its own way. The wedges are far longer, particularly pronounced at 12:00, and those long hands are small at the base and fan out towards the end. It is a distinctive look that produces some fun interplay when the hands and markers meet. The second hand is a vintage paddle shape with a diamond tail. Like the other hands, it is long enough to overlap its markers.


Dial text is another area where Nodus's attention to detail shines. Now, I'll admit that I have become a bit of a nut about this, but it drives me crazy when a dial is overloaded with useless verbiage, or the text is printed in a generic typeface, or when they splash a huge logo and brand name over it. It should be obvious that everything you put on a watch face affects the whole, so why would you half-ass it? Ok, my rant is over. Nodus did it right. The overlapping chevron logo is attractive and proportionate. The brand name uses a broad, finely rendered typeface that is repeated in the yellow model name and the diminutive water resistance rating that fits neatly beneath it. It's perfect.


You really can't go wrong with either of the Trieste's engines. Swiss Technology Production may not be familiar to most affordable watch aficionados, but that will change. A wholly owned subsidy of the Fossil Group, STP produces Swiss made movements at its Lugano factory. The STP1-11 is an ETA 2824 alternative. It hacks and hand winds, has 26 jewels, a 44-hour power reserve, and a 28.8k bph rate. It is also decorated with perlage bridges and a Côtes de Genève rotor, but you will have to crack open the Trieste's solid caseback to appreciate it. A Trieste with the Swiss automatic is a very reasonable deal for $500.


If you can live with slightly lower specifications, and can forgo the STP1-11's silky sweep and hidden decorations, then the NH35a option may be the one for you. This movement is a tried and true evolution of Seiko's venerable 7s26. It is tough, known to just about any watchmaker, and inexpensive to repair or replace if need be. It has 24 jewels, a power reserve of over 40 hours, a 21.6k bph vibration rate, Diashock isolation, and hacking and hand winding capabilities. Best of all, an NH35 equipped Nodus sells for just $350, making it the obvious choice if you want the Trieste's charm on a budget. It is worth mentioning that the sweep of the second hand is the only outward manifestation of the movement inside. There is no other label or indication to set them apart.


Strap and bracelet options vary depending on finish. The brushed stainless version comes on an oyster-style bracelet with solid end links, tapering to a signed flip-lock clasp. The links are secured with single ended screws so sizing was a breeze. I removed four links to fit my 6.5" wrist without the need to move the micro adjustments in the clasp. The black model came on a gray and black nylon NATO with matching hardware. Buyers will also get a two-piece canvas strap color matched to the bezel, but this was not available at the time I got the sample. The black case certainly looks cool with the dark red bezel, and it will pair nicely with a number of straps, but in terms of value, I must give the brushed stainless version and its bracelet the nod. 

The Nodus Trieste is a delightful take on the traditional diver. Clearly, its designers had a keen eye for aesthetic detail and it shows in the final product. Regardless of which options you choose, you will be rewarded with a handsome watch for a very appealing price. For more information or to order your own, go to NodusWatches.com. ◆


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