- 38mm x 47mm x 12.25mm
- 316L stainless steel case
- 100m water resistance
- Seiko TMI NH34 GMT movmement
- Date of release – October 2022
- Price upon release – $450 (leather strap)
Give Me A Break
I need a break from the European-style dual-time 24-hour bezel “GMT” watches like my Rolex GMT Master II and its countless imitators. The research, resource allocation, and reference comparisons are exhausting. The Nodus Sector GMT provides precisely the escape I need.
This $450 GMT offers style and quality that neatly compliments the growing brand’s catalog. The Nodus Sector GMT is part of the larger Sector collection that currently contains six models: Deep, Dive, Field, GMT, Pilot, and Sport. Mirroring larger brands’ strategies, Nodus has riffed using the same case to offer varying complications, a rainbow of dial colors, and design details that ease the customer’s ability to find a model configuration that suits their individual taste.
I recall seeing a prototype Sector in person back in 2019. At the time, the Nodus Duality stole the brand’s spotlight as it was its newest release. Despite the novelty of that novelty, I knew that Nodus founders Wes (Kwok) and Cullen (Chen), had threaded the design needle with the Sector, because the case was entirely versatile.
While the 38mm diameter case is very wearable and shareable, the detail that I found most interesting was the lugs. I look at a lot of steel lugs. In my neurotic neo-vintage watch collecting discussions, we continually debate whether lugs should be polished or unpolished and whether the chamfers should be re-cut or not. Like most watch nerds, I may look back on my life and wonder how I could have spent so much time thinking about something ultimately so insignificant. But, you’re still reading, so…
The lugs of Nodus Sector GMT have very thickly cut and polished chamfers. Besides breaking up the light as it moves from brushed to polished surfaces, the width also softens the design without overly rounding the mid-case.
Even the beveling under the flank of the case varies in width to create a visualization of a slimmer case. The beveling tapers to the lug to draw the angle straight down. The eye and strap follow the profile. That uninterrupted profile enables a more satisfying wearing experience. Never have I found myself fighting the case design to keep the Sector GMT centered comfortably on my wrist. That’s a big deal, and it’s worth building a catalog of watches around it.
Other details are hidden in plain sight. From certain angles, the bezel appears smooth. On closer inspection there is fine radial brushing that compliments the sector design, always pulling the eye outward from the center. I did get a chuckle about the drilled lugs. While they say “tool instrument”, the reality of the Nodus straps and bracelets being quick-release leaves the drilled lugs design with little to no functionality, unless you are using straps that don’t have quick release spring-bars. Then, the drilled lugs are excellent to have.
Radial Arabic Numerals and Other Defining Features
Prior to the 1920s, railroad, and military watches (tools and instruments) used Arabic numerals, and gentleman’s watches used Roman numerals. The widespread popularity of the sector dial harkens back to the 1920-1940s when watches started to become more complicated, and the sectors divided the information into more legible areas on the dial. To further aid legibility, the sector dial pulls the eye from the pinion to align time information radially while circular steps, recessed subdials, or contrasting colors assist to delineate between informational zones—or sectors. Sectoring a dial was originally more about function than form.
During that same post-1920 period, Art Deco designs began featuring Arabic numerals beyond tool watches, and setting Arabic numerals in a radial pattern was nothing more than aesthetic flare previously reserved for Roman numerals. To be clear: arranging numerals radially looks interesting, but it is far less legible than upright numerals are. To this day, no serious tool watch uses radially aligned numerals.
The Nodus Sector series are logically all called Sector. With the exception of the Sector Deep, each design uses a sector dial configuration—kind of. The design of the dial and hands for the Sector GMT are reminiscent of the Hermès H08. It’s very deco and provides divergence from the modern Nodus Sector case. Just like the Hermès H08, the Nodus Sector GMT is a modern deco dialed watch with a modern case.
The Sector GMT features a twenty-four-hour hand and scale in a clearly delineated sector on the dial. That scale is raised by a step and I was delighted by the legibility of the second time zone. This is in sharp contrast to the more common long GMT hand stretching to the bezel. I finally understood the sector design advantage. The chapter ring subtly breaks up the six AM/PM with a light blue that matches the GMT hand. It’s a remarkably legible design.
Nodus chose circular brushing on the dial as opposed to the more common radial (sunburst). This further reinforces the sector design as the eye moves toward the painted Arabic hour markers. The legibility of the primary timezone is also excellent thanks to the radial arrangement. Nodus treated just about everything on the dial with Swiss Super-LumiNova T-C1 X1 Grade (blue transmission). Unfortunately, a bit of brightness is lost due to the nature of the design. After all, this isn’t a dive watch with bulbous circular hour markers filled up with lume.
The Movement – Properly Set Up Before Shipment
The Seiko Corporation needs a lesson from Six Sigma to get its mass-produced movements properly oiled and better regulated out of the factory. To minimize the impact of Seiko’s quality issues, Nodus takes the movement into their own hands, literally.
In Los Angeles, the Nodus team takes the trays of movements and regulates them in four positions (but checks them in six) before assembly. Movements with defects that can’t be saved are discarded. A cost of poor quality indeed. Next dials and hards are installed and the watches are cased. After the casing, the watches are sent to Nodus’ fulfillment center in Seattle. The watches are then put on a timegrapher again and the results are recorded. Wes and the fulfillment team make final visual QC checks before the watches are sent to customers. That’s pretty damn impressive, and it’s all done in the USA, if that matters to you.
As part of the Nodus kit, customers are provided with a card that corresponds to their watch’s regulation. While the Seiko NH34 will never outperform a chronometer-grade ETA 2893-2, the Seiko movement certainly does its job for a sub $1000 watch. I experienced slightly better than +40/-20 seconds per day through observation and this was verified on my timegrapher.
The core of my personal collection is jumping local-hour GMT watches (known as flyers). However, I would not feel lesser in any way using a jumping twenty-four-hour hand (known as callers). I’ve recently discussed the merits of the latter in a review of the Yema Superman 500 GMT. GMT debates aside, I showed my nephew (middle school) how to adjust for tracking a second time zone on the Nodus Sector GMT and it blew his mind. We had just been on a trip together from New York to Colorado and I demonstrated how you would use the Nodus Sector GMT to simultaneously track two time zones. As described by my nephew, my 2003 Rolex Explorer II is “ancient” and the Nodus Sector GMT is “bussin” (awesome)—kids and their lingo!
The Stock Strap Option
Currency the Nodus Sector GMT is only offered on a dark brown Horween leather strap. Personally, I’m not a leather strap person, but my Dad is. I’ve purchased this same strap from Nodus a la carte for him to wear on his Sinn 104. It’s thoughtfully designed for 20mm lug widths and features the aformentioned quick-release spring bars. A Nodus-branded pin-buckle ties it all together. If you’re deep into the horological hobby, there is no shortage of ways to take accessories and personalization further.
The Accessory Strap Option
My favorite way to personalize a watch is when you can do it within the brand. Cohesive designs separate the one-hit wonders from brands that can produce a double LP. My choice for straps on the Sector GMT is also a Nodus accessory option, the Black Hybrid TECTUFF© Rubber Strap.
TECTUFF© is a water-polymer polyurethane (NBR) rubber proprietary product that is resistant to abrasions, stains, water, and oils. The application of TECTUFF© on the Nodus straps is the perfect blend of structure and flexibility. At a glance, the rubber is molded to give the look of nylon while a waffle pattern lets your skin breathe underneath.
The black rubber is a cleaner look than leather, especially with the cool-toned Metro colorway. As a bonus, the texture is similar in appearance to the nylon NASA-style strap that is a factory option on the current generation Speedmaster Professional. Simply put, it’s the best $55 that I’ve ever spent on a watch strap.
The NodeX Bracelet Option
This is where options for the Nodus Sector GMT get more interesting, Nodus introduced the NodeX bracelet in 2022. The NodeX bracelets are compatible with all watches in the current Sector line. Like the Nodus straps, the NodeX has quick-release spring bars to make swapping a breeze. The NodeX bracelet and Sector GMT combo are not available today, however. Rest assured, Nodus has plans to make the NodeX bracelet available throughout the entire range of Sector watches. Be patient. If you can’t wait, the mid-case on all of the Sector series watches is the same, so there is always the swap option.
What makes the NodeX stand out is the on-the-fly push button micro adjustments integrated into the milled clasp. Nodus joins the likes of Raven and Hailios to take an accessible swing at what Rolex has perfected with the overengineered Glidelock clasp. The NodeX wasn’t perfect in its first 2022 iteration. Innovation rarely is. In April 2023 Nodus is launching the second generation of the NodeX bracelet with enhancements based on consumer feedback, such as tightening the tolerances on the extension module.
The importance of consistent design language in watch bracelets is often overlooked. If you think about the most iconic watches, and more particularly the associated brand identity, it becomes more clear. This can range from a jangly Z199 on a Seiko to the Maltese cross centerlinks on a Vacheron-Constantin. For Nodus, the NodeX bracelet is an area worth doubling down.
The other side of NodeX is the plan to license out the clasp design to other brands. Think Kenissi licensing the MT5612/B20 movements. If Nodus can successfully pull this B2B feat off, it would be a quantum leap for the brand and the possible birth of smaller boutique independents forming business alliances in a way that is more official than discussing best practices over drinks. Perhaps the microbrand scene is growing up, and it’ll be great for consumers when such alliances begin to emerge.
Being a young watch brand, it’s hard to resist the urge to over-riff. Despite improvements on paper, I feel that Nodus has been guilty of inconsistency with its plethora of dive watches. There is a fine line between continuous improvement and building the tenets of the internal, evergreen design language that ultimately becomes a company’s brand identity. I don’t really fault them for riffing, exactly, but I am a Rolex-guy and tend to feel stronger identities lie with fewer choices.
The largest question for assessment of the Sector GMT is: Do we have Nodus that’s unique enough to make a purchase decision via design? I think so.
The Nodus Sector GMT is modern and stylish, but with deep roots in classic design, without overplaying. Being an approachable offering, the Sector GMT is a prime opportunity to position a gateway watch that can lead to a full-blown obsession.
You can find more information about Nodus Watches HERE.