For me, summer officially starts when I’m sweating comfortably poolside with a citrus IPA. This year it’s a little different… Ok a lot different. Most of the public and private pools are closed. We are confined to our backyard where I’m being held hostage by a 1,800 gallon temporary pool and mildly chilled lemon flavored seltzer that’s practically flat.
When all hope was lost a package arrived. It was the Nodus Retrospect “Obsidian”. I quickly swapped the soul crushing “Top 40 Pop” to “The Dark Side of the Moon”. Summer was back on.
Nodus’ Retrospect was their second model released into the “boutique independent enthusiast” watch space (if that’s even how we are categorizing it now). Nodus has released several versions of the “Retrospect” at this point in time. Each Retrospect is an improved version of the original.
The big takeaway is that Nodus is constantly trying to improve and perfect their craft. Many brands can make something that lies between very good and great and then are content sitting on it. My observation is that is not Wes and Cullen’s style. Theirs is a constant battle to improve. That is also the reason that we hold Nodus to a higher standard. Nodus even officially added a third employee this year (Cameron). That’s a big growth step for a small company.
Upon unboxing, the Retrospect’s 40.5mm wide case reminded me of the Sinn 104 – especially how the lugs come off the flank. It feels chunky in a good tool-watch way. The chunkiness is balanced by an oversized no-guard crown. I loved the big crown, but others that I showed the watch to did not.
I was hesitant about a concave bezel. I didn’t think that I’d like it. I’m still not sure if I do. It’s a unique feature and hard to do right. It does contrast the domed crystal and mixes up the ordinary. That feature is going to come down to the personal opinion of the consumer.
The bezel comes in two options: ceramic or steel. The circular brushing on the steel version is like something that you would find on a five-digit Explorer II. The version that I reviewed had the lumed ceramic insert. The black was a perfect match.
The version reviewed here is the “Black Obsidian”. The gloss back dial with white markers is very Vader, especially with the black ceramic insert. Expect the black enamel dial to act like a mirror. If you take a cellphone wrist shot, expect your face to be in the reflection.
Nodus does such a great job with color, yet the all-black Vader scheme was a clean departure from bright yellows and blues.
The minute and hour hands are polished and catch the light just right to be visible in low light conditions. The red-tipped seconds hand reminds me of an arrow on a chronograph seconds hand. Many enthusiasts love a little touch of red on a watch.
Newer versions of the Retrospect, like this one, feature Swiss Super-LumiNova® BGW9. The lume had a bluish tint. The human eye is more sensitive to blue wavelengths than green, so it seems brighter. It should be noted that the lume on the triangle on the bezel insert is still green.
Sandwich construction, strong lume, even a lumed trapezoidal frame around the date window… what more do you want?!?
Why do the movements in the Nodus watches outperform their specs? That’s an easy answer: Regulation. The guys at Nodus test and regulate each one of the Seiko NH35A automatic movements found in the Retrospect. It would be easy to just “case them up”. There is a big difference between the easy way and the right way. You even get a hand-written card verifying the accuracy test in four positions. The results speak for themselves on the regulation card.
The 22mm brushed bracelet plays off the chunkiness of the case. It’s a big bracelet with little taper. The Retrospect is a potential strap monster. The drilled lugs make popping out spring bars effortless. The Retrospect has short lugs and they sit low. You might want to consider curved spring bars if you like a pass though strap like a NATO or a Zulu.
The Bracelet could use one more removable link on the 6 o’clock side. That could limit very small wrists. I had no problem getting it just right on my 6.75” wrist thanks to the six micro adjustments on the locking clasp.
The brushing on the bracelet is consistent. It’s one of the highest quality steel bracelets in its class. The “H” links are comfortable with just enough stretch to give it the smallest bit of needed flex. The links are easily added or removed with screws.
If you don’t care for a steel bracelet, Nodus also includes a Barton Bands “Elite” silicone strap. The silicone strap has pre-curved ends that provide support and initiate the couture. I wear a watch on a steel bracelet or black rubber strap most of the time, so this was a no-brainer for me. I spent most of my time with the Retrospect on the Barton strap.
This summer’s pick-me-up came packaged in a Nodus canvas watch roll that you’ll actually want to use. In the pool, at work, or on my bike, this watch handled it all with no issues.
Visit the Nodus Watches website or follow them on Instagram to learn more. Nodus will start taking orders for the Retrospect Black Obsian in July. All of the Nodus releases have eventually sold out. If you see a color that you like, jump on it because it might not return for a while. The “drop” method is great for the cash flow of small businesses as well as a proven marketing strategy. To take the next growth step, continuous fulfillment would be needed so consumers could shop the full depth of all the different Nodus models.
To sum it up, the Retrospect is another solid offering from Nodus. Seiko fans are growing more and more frustrated with quality control problems and escalating prices in the Prospex line.
Seriously consider the $450 Nodus Retrospect as an affordable and capable alternative. Now grab a beer, get in your make-shift pool, and get after the summer.
Greg is a long-time watch lover based in upstate New York. Greg is a supply chain professional by day and private watch consultant by night. Greg brings his own style to the TBWS website as a contributor by blending bits of humor into technical assessments. You can follow his cycling and snowboarding adventures on Instagram as he pursues the perfect 3-watch collection.