The legend that is the Nodus Avalon II
The Isle of Avalon is one of the few fictional places which conjures up universal images focusing on the forging of the sword Excalibur and the location where King Arthur recovered from battle injuries. The name translates literally to “isle of fruit (apple) trees' and the proliferation of orchards around the town of Glastonbury fortifies the tale. An interesting geo-historical element of the story is that the high hills surrounding the town were once islands due to ancient flooding which meant you would have had to sail to the Tor in the Dark Ages. Also, the original Welsh name for the Tor was 'Isle of Glass' so there must be some grain of truth to this greatest of British legends.
Hence the name Avalon is forever linked to adventure, knights, bravery, quests and ultimately heroes. So given this impressive pedigree; it would make a great name for a watch.
Enter the Nodus Avalon II
The original Nodus Avalon appeared around 2018 and was a solid serviceable 300m tool watch with a distinctive cushion case and coloured dials. It would be fair to say that it had more than a bit of Seiko 6309 DNA and the founders of Nodus, Wes and Cullen, have never hidden the fact that they were fans. As a first stab at a serious dive watch, it was pretty good - however, the latest evolution of the model really takes the Avalon to the next level.
The Avalon II is a striking watch with interesting textures which oozes quality. And in fairness that's not a statement which you would necessarily have applied to the original which was very much a functional chunk of steel.
Nodus are a small US-based microbrand, and we have noticed that the maturing of their products is a characteristic which can be seen across the entire portfolio. In a recent meeting with the US founders, their zest for new designs and excitement over their creations was infectious so we are really thrilled at WatchGecko to have such a close working relationship and offer Nodus watches exclusively in the UK.
The 300m Avalon II is a large 43.5mm diver in the same style case as the original model. However, the new case feels like it has been crafted rather than machined and the attention to detail really shines through. When first handled it seems like a big watch, but the sweeping curved sides of the case seem to hug your wrist. The textured dial (more on this later) and bold hands draw the eye to the centre and the combination of this and the case shape creates an optical illusion that the watch is no more than 41mm on the wrist. It's very clever.
The new steel bracelet benefits from an upgrade with Nodus' NodeX extension clasp which allows for micro-adjustment in an instant. Perfect if you are using the watch in a hot environment or want to slip it over a wetsuit.
The watch is available in four dial colours, each bold and making a statement. They have evocative and well thought out names (Coral Yellow, Pelagic Blue, Trench Black and Seaspray White). Each one draws on sub-aqua imagery with Seaspray perfectly capturing the foamy colour of waves and Trench Black recreating the sinister blackness at 300m depth where light struggles to penetrate.
Common to all models is a visually impressive crosshatched "Tapisserie" dial pattern which catches light from a myriad of angles and adds a real extra dimension to the watch. Indeed, it is probably the most striking feature of the watch. Such embossed dials have been seen with deep dive watches before - take for example the famous 3D waves on the Omega Seamaster 300.
From a functional perspective, the Avalon II delivers with bold hands and indices standing out no matter what dial selection. There is generous and effective luminescence thanks to the application of Swiss Super-LumiNova T-C1 X1 which demonstrates a performance increase of up to 60% after two hours compared to the standard grade. According to ISO 3157 the use of X1 will extend legibility by a factor of 1.6.
The word AVALON and the smallest segment of the seconds hand flash red on all four models which reinforces the boldness of the name and this critical hand. When considered as a professional diving tool the Avalon II comes as standard with a screw-down crown and case back, a 120-click unidirectional bezel with a ceramic lume insert and a sapphire crystal lens with an anti-reflective coating on its underside.
Inside the watch, we find a respectable (if not hugely exciting) Miyota 9015 automatic movement. Nodus have taken the time to regulate this 24-jewel Japanese calibre to +/- 8 seconds per day and we have noted excellent accuracy from the tweaked unit. It is a workhorse movement, pure and simple, operating at 28,800 vph, with Parashock capability and a power reserve of 42 hours. In short, it does the job very well and its deployment keeps the Avalon II at a competitive price point.
Flip the case over and you find the only real homage to the legend of King Arthur with a stylised sword embossed into the steel. It's a good symbol to represent strength and adventure. Certainly not what one would expect to find on the back of a dive watch, and it makes a pleasant change from the ubiquitous 'fish'. Considering the watch is designed in Los Angeles, it actually gives the case a very British feel.
So how does the watch stack up at the £625 price? Well to be honest. This is a very capable product and offers the design flair we've come to expect from Nodus. At this price you are right in Seiko Prospex territory yet above the venerable Citizen Dive range and a long way under the big Swiss brands. What the Avalon II offers, which none of the others do, is the opportunity to flash a new and upcoming Microbrand which is gaining a lot of traction. With so many of us turning away from the giants in favour of the passion and quality that exudes from the smaller brands the Avalon II is destined to be a big success and will serve you well as a daily beater or a dedicated deep-sea companion.
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