Nodus Trieste Review:
Just Another Watch or More Than The Sum of Its Parts?
By: Kaz Mirza
Seeing all these watches come and go – all these brands try and grab our attention – it’s really rare when something actually catches my eye. It’s also ever rarer when something stops me dead in my tracks. I was scrolling through the Two Broke Watch Snobs Instagram Feed one evening, fueling the soulless digital dopamine drip that only Social Media can provide, when I spied the Nodus Trieste. I remember hearing about Nodus Watches in passing but I never had the opportunity to actually really get a good look at any of their offerings. First impressions on Instagram was really good. Classic looks, fresh detailing aesthetics, and a unique feel all its own – the trifecta!
A little while after that Mike and I learned that the Nodus Watches brand owners and operators (Wes and Cullen) actually listened to the Two Broke Watch Snobs podcast. Then a little while after reaching out to the brand, they were kind enough to provide a Nodus Trieste for us to review and then giveaway for reaching our 5,000 Follower Instagram Milestone. But as is the case, what’s the reality of seeing a watch online and then actually having it in your hands? All too often I’ve been a victim of falling in love with something when I see it online only to have my love thrown back in my face as soon as I see the watch in person. I’m tired of being hurt, Watchfam! So with a jaded eye but an ever-optimistic heart I want to breakdown my impressions of this piece with this Nodus Trieste review.
There are usually two facets to how I evaluate a case on a watch: design and build quality. More often than not with some of these microbrands there’s a disparity in that one of those criteria will show stronger than the other – great design, weird quality – weird design, great quality. When I first took the Nodus Trieste out of its box and began to give it the old ocular pat-down, it had been about 10 minutes before I realized that I hadn’t tried to evaluate the Nodus Trieste in relation to my design/quality parameters. All I had been doing for 10 minutes was looking at the entire watch holistically. I wasn’t trying to break down the dial in relation to the hands or how the crystal worked against the bezel – I wasn’t doing any of that. I was just looking at the entire watch.
I credit this effect to the case. Good product design isn’t noticeable – if something is done well than you shouldn’t notice its disparate parts. I’ve never met anyone that said “Hmm – you know, I like the new Porche 911’s unique take on the iconic engine hood, but I think the integration of the rear fender is lame.” Good design renders a holistic experience that’s more than just the sum of its parts (or in this case, the sum of its lines and curves).
But to offer a more grounded opinion, what works really well with the Nodus Trieste is that it’s a unique case shape but still very familiar. Looking at it head-on gives the impression that the lugs are made up of straight lines. However as your eye begins to moves towards the side of the case the lines have a very gentle curve to them. While we’re looking at the side, you’ll note that the main center-structure of the case has a substantial belly to it, but as you move towards the lugs some of the visual weight slides away. This results in the case appropriately balancing a substantial look and feel without appearing bulky.
The sides of the case feature brushed detailing and the tops of the lugs feature the same. But in the corner where the two meet the Nodus Trieste features a subtle smooth polished bevel that adds a refreshing note of finesse. The bezel features 120-click action and a sapphire insert. The coin edge of the bezel in conjunction with the width allow for you to get a really good grip on there. Plus the action is smooth and once the bezel-click properly sets in, it’s firm – no play that I could detect. The crown features the same coin edge detail, creating nice visual continuity. The top of the crown also features a really fine bevel detail, which I thought was awesome to see since it added a bit of comfort when gripping the crown in addition to making the piece feel more refined than other ones I’ve handled.
The strongest feature is that the overall curvature of the case is designed to act as a frame or display podium for the dial. Putting the dial forward-facing like this supports legibility and makes sure your eyes go where they’re supposed to go.
The caseback is a screwdown type with a polished beveled edge and the quality of the detailing here is strong. For practicality the Nodus Trieste features a 200M WR rating in addition to drilled through lugs, making strap changes super easy to do. The Nodus Trieste’s case dimensions are 41mm in diameter, 50mm lug to lug, and 13mm thick. The piece is also equipped with an AR-coated double dome sapphire crystal.
As soon as you think you have the dial figured out, the design choices and interior elements will sneak up on you. The Nodus Trieste features applied markers – a mix of circles and what I originally thought were bars for the compass rose positions (12, 3, 6, and 9). However, it would be more accurate to call them elongated isosceles trapezoids (you’re damn right I Googled that shit). Choosing this non-regular marker shape for a watch would have been interesting in and of itself. However, what I’ve learned with the Nodus Trieste is that no design choice exists in a vacuum. The isosceles trapezoid shape of the markers works in tandem with the hands to create really fun visual interest as the hands move around the dial.
The hour and minute hands are also elongated isosceles trapezoids (or as IG user @arrigoj referred to them: lighthouse hands). The seconds hand is definitely among the same family, but it’s a bit less exaggerated. As the hour hands move around the dial it lines up with the isosceles trapezoid markers to create a two-tiered/stacked geometric structure. Where as while the minute and second hands move they line up with the markers to complete one single geometric shape.
The markers and hands feature a high polishing detail, which catches the light really well while the non-beveled chapter ring features contrasting brushed detail. The bezel, markers, and hands feature BGW-9 lume, which has that characteristic blue luminescence. The dial text in the 6 o’clock position reads “TRIESTE – 200M/650FT” with the model name is an interesting yellowish-orange color. This text feels a bit undersized, but the choice of keeping it smaller makes practical sense because it’s not a vital dial element in my opinion – so legibility isn’t a huge concern.
The top of the classic oyster-style links are brushed while the sides are polished. It’s also got screw links – ha! Sizing the bracelet was easy as hell. The end links are solid and are contoured really well to complete the slope of the case shape and its lugs. Overall it helps the bracelet and the timepiece feel like one cohesive unit. The clasp features a traditional flip lock feature along with the Nodus Watches logo. What was a huge surprise for me was the quality of the clasp mechanism. Usually this area here is just a flat piece of stamped metal – it’s one of the areas where brands often try and skim on quality to save cash. But on the Nodus Trieste it appears to be milled and brushed really well, which really supports the overall feeling of cohesion between the watch’s different elements.
The bracelet is 20mm at the lugs and features a slight taper down to 18mm at the clasp. The angle of the taper feels really natural and organic and helps the watch balance the line between tool-diver and desk-diver. The clasp also features micro-adjustments if you’re like me and feel the needs to constantly tinker with bracelet sizes cause your neurotic… also helps to have the micro-adjustments since here in swamp-ass Florida my wrist size can fluctuate with humidity.
In terms of overall feel, the bracelet is of really good quality. It’s rare to find a microbrand pull off a bracelet so well, so seeing the solid execution here in Nodus Trieste is refreshing.
Powering the Nodus Trieste is the ever-reliable but seldom seen NH35 (a non-branded version of the 4R35 that Seiko offers for other brands to use). The NH35 hand winds, hacks, and features approx. 40 hours of power reserve. The guys at Nodus Watches regulate these movements as well and do so in 4 different positions in order to ensure consistent accuracy (-10/+10 seconds per day). The Nodus Trieste was actually originally offered with both the STP1-11 Swiss Movement and this NH35. However, all the NH35 models have sold out (pssst – Nodus Trieste Giveaway details below).
My experience with this Trieste featuring the NH35 has been good. I love how smooth the movement winds. Although technically I don’t have to hand wind it because it has an automatic rotor. Also with 21,600 VPH the second hand has a moderatly consistent sweep, which is about what you’d expect with a movement like this. Overall the NH35 has a history of reliability and robustness that watch collecting folks have been enjoying for some time now. Truthfully I wish the NH35 was featured in more pieces – the value and quality it offers generally translates to a more affordable price point for end-users/consumers, which is certainly the case here with the Nodus Trieste.
The truth here is that the Nodus Trieste isn’t really a microbrand diver for everyone. I say that because the current state of microbrands has a large segment of folks who come to expect “new” iterations on basically the same handful of options in an attempt at creating something unique. But that’s not what’s happening here with the Nodus Trieste.
It’s the difference between a restaurant with incredible ambiance but predictable food and that hole-in-the-wall sushi joint that smelled like tile grout and Windex where you enjoyed the best $5 Spicy Tuna Roll you’ve ever had in your life (#neverforgetdatroll). I don’t necessarily mean to shed light on this dichotomy to disparage one segment in relation to the other. The reality of the modern microbrand is that the market should be structured to offer consumers the choice of what they want to add in their collection. What I want to point out is that the reality is modern microbrand offers are skewed in the direction of watches looking different, but more or less being the same once you get past the surface.
I can think of maybe 3 microbrands that utilize the manufacturing means available to them to create a unique piece that’s truly representative of their design perspective and expression. Based off what I’ve seen while writing this Nodus Trieste review I would count Nodus Watches among one of these brands. The Nodus Trieste is but one iteration in a design perspective that’s representative of the brand’s overall expression (to see what I mean, just check out their latest offering, The Nodus Retrospect). As such, there are no gimmicks with the Nodus Trieste – what you’re getting is an affordable microbrand diver with high build quality, attention to detail, and a very unique look.
The Nodus Trieste is currently only available with the STP1-11 movement and starts at approx. $500 USD with a rubber strap or $550 USD with the bracelet.
5,000 Follower Giveaway Contest!
As I mentioned earlier Nodus Watches submitted the Trieste for review with the ultimate purpose of providing it as a prize for our 5,000 Follower Giveaway – so here we are! To enter for a chance to win this Nodus Trieste all you have to do is leave a comment below in regards to your thoughts on the piece, this review, or Nodus Watches in general. Please refrain from single world comments. All comments that come in will be subject to manual approval by me personally. As such, if you leave a comment and don’t see if populate here on the page after 24 hours please feel free to reach out at [email protected] or throw us a DM on Instagram. Thank you again to each and every one of you who’ve been a part of our growth – and a huge thank you to the guys at Nodus Watches.
PLEASE NOTE: the TBWS 5k Follower Giveaway is now CLOSED – thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to the winner – be sure to follow and subscribe for future giveaways!
Kaz has been collecting watches since 2015, but he’s been fascinated by product design, the Collector’s psychology, and brand marketing his whole life. While sharing the same strong fondness for all things horologically-affordable as Mike (his TBWS partner in crime), Kaz’s collection niche is also focused on vintage Soviet watches as well as watches that feature a unique, but well-designed quirk or visual hook.