The Nodus Sector Field is a breath of fresh air in the world of field watches.
When a specific watch genre has expected design parameters it can be a challenge for manufacturers to come up with something new. Field Watches are a good example as their form is governed by strong criteria. If you asked ten watch enthusiasts to imagine a classic Field Watch, chances are they would all come up with a hybrid of a Hamilton Khaki, a WW2 UK Dirty Dozen with an injection of US A-11. For the professional watch designer, tackling this issue requires the navigation of the fine line between letting creativity flow and meeting buyer expectations.
Born from a military world, Field Watches follow a distinct style which harks back to the 1940s when Army watches were governed by stringent designs specs. Those designs have evolved into the category of Field Watches, and you can still expect the modern counterpart to display large numerals and fine legibility as seen on the early models. A true Field Watch will rarely be a chronograph, occasionally a GMT, maybe with sub-dials, and will be housed in an unembellished round case under 40mm in diameter. Many design houses have attempted to step well beyond the stipulated criteria, in some cases creating brilliant outdoor watches, but the results are often far from a classic Field Watch.
An Introduction to Nodus
One of the best tools available to avant-garde manufacturers is the use of colour. After all there is no good reason, other than tradition, why Field Watches must have black or green dials. And one of the most innovative new brands exploring this area is Nodus.
Founded in 2017 by two US watch enthusiasts, Wes and Cullen, with an ethos that puts design to the forefront, Nodus watches are built in-house in Los-Angeles with a remit to meet high self-imposed technical standards and surpass wearer expectations. Nodus is derived from the Latin for Node, which means an intersection of pathways, and this concept drives the company’s design philosophy which is a blend of creativity and technical excellence.
In the busy Field Watch market, Nodus have released the Sector Field Automatic. Available in muted but striking colours the Sector Field range is in every way a classic example of the genre, yet it is also a clear effort to push boundaries and deliver a package that looks anything but “standard issue”.
Initially the Sector specifications appear to read from the Field Watch 101 handbook. It is presented in a 38mm round stainless case with a clean, uncluttered, military style dial and bold 12-hour numerals. An inner track shows 24-hour timing, and a date window is an option at the 16:30 mark. However, the more you study the watch the more you realise it is a significant step beyond the norm and begin to appreciate unique aesthetics firmly aimed at lifting the range above a typical design.
The Sector Field in Detail
The dial has been created without compromise. Dégradé finish blue, beige or red colours are used to bring depth and structure. These variants are called Marina, Malibu, and Redwood. A richly coloured inner circle gives the 24-hour track a bold presence moving outwards to a lighter halo which lifts the dial. This then merges back into darker shades ending with the minute track. Numerals are black outlined against the dial to give a 3D effect and the hands are surrounded in either black or white depending on your dial choice.
Low light visibility is further enhanced by a generous application of Swiss Super-LumiNova X1 Grade on critical parts. X1 is a new SLN development which claims to be 60% brighter than the standard formula after 2 hours of darkness. Recessed colour coordinated cut out slots make up the 24-hour sub-ring and a stylised navigational cardinal-point cross. The second hand and optional date windows are also colour co-ordinated with the dial. The overall effect ticks the Field Watch essential of fine legibility yet pulls this off with cutting-edge design. All of this is protected by AR coated sapphire crystal.
The case and bracelet offer a mixed polish and blasted look, and both have been constructed to the highest standard. The 38mm steel case, with a lug to lug of 47mm, is a stepped design and thankfully has drilled spring bar holes to make fitting a NATO easy and scratch free. The steel bracelet has three micro adjustment levels in the embossed clasp and links are screw fitted so they too are very easy to remove or fit. Like the dial, you can see that much thought has been put into the bracelet; so often an element overlooked in watch design.
The 150m water resistance is ensured by an oversized, unshouldered, screw down crown very reminiscent of bygone military watches. Despite the fundamentally new styling of the Sector Field, it is good to see that Nodus have acknowledged that some designs cannot be improved on. The case back has an intriguing interlocking circle engraved design which is a take on the brand name, the inner part of the Venn Diagram being the “node” where ideas and style converge. It is simple but works well.
A Look At The Movement
Beating inside the Nodus Sector Field is a proven Seiko NH35 movement which has been regulated in four positions and claims an accuracy of +/- 10 seconds per day. The movement has a power reserve of 41 hours and in keeping with Field Watch intended use it is protected by Diashock, Seiko’s proprietary shock absorber mechanism, first introduced in 1956 and still going strong! Perhaps as a throwback to the founding models many Field Watch owners appreciate the heritage of hand wound movements and the NH35 is billed as dual wind allowing both hand winding and traditional automatic self-winding.
How Does It Wear?
The Sector Field wears well as the watch is only 12.5mm high. The 38mm case will fit on most wrists comfortably and the longer lug-to-lug dimension retains presence. The distinct curve of the lugs allows the steel case to hug the wrist and give the watch an elegance when viewed from the side. The steel bracelet is comfortable and well made but the great thing about Field Watches is that they look equally good on a NATO, vintage leather strap or even rubber. Such is the versatility of this genre that you can dress up a well-designed Field Watch for almost any occasion.
It is so refreshing to find a capable Field Watch, which follows the specifications you demand, yet has evolved beyond accepted design limits. It is hard not to respect a new company who are prepared to honour proven original concepts while successfully allowing individuality to shine. Nodus have proven that you can work within very defined criteria and still show flare and they have managed to lift the humble Field Watch for a new generation of buyers.
Later in the year I will be commencing a quest to find the ultimate Field Watch. This will involve numerous models and field tests. Keep following the WatchGecko magazine for details. In the meantime, have a closer look at the full Nodus collection here. You can also find out more about the Nodus brand here.