If you have been looking for a watch that is not an homage, is affordable, attractive and of course, built well, all for under $500, the Nodus Retrospect III might be one to check out. That does come with a caveat though, as, at the time of publishing this review, this watch is, unfortunately, all sold out. At the time this watch was sent for review, it of course was still available but in the meantime (a few weeks), it sold out. This doesn’t happen often and it looks like they will be restocking them next year, so let’s delve into this watch that you can’t buy, at least not right now.
With a number III in the model name, this is obviously the third iteration of the Nodus Retrospect and as such, there are a few changes. This vintage-inspired divers-style watch has been bumped up to 42mm, which will make some happy and others sad. The design has stayed mostly the same, some new colors have been added and this now has a 3-link oyster-style bracelet and of course the proprietary clasp from Nodus, the NodeX, which is a slim extension system built into the clasp. As seen above, this watch has all you would expect from a microbrand at this price point these days, sapphire, lots of lume, a stainless case, and a bracelet. This is what I would call a simpler watch, it is more subdued than many, not flashy and not really rugged, but a good everyday dive style watch that should be able to go with almost anything you wear, and this grey sunburst would probably look good with a suit as well.
The design is pretty straightforward and even with the bump in size to 42mm, the lug-to-lug is only 48mm, so many wrists will still be able to pull this watch off. It isn’t very heavy either at 175 grams, and everything is well-balanced on the wrist. The case has a nice mix of brushed and polished finishing, and for someone who isn’t very fond of high polish, I still like how they did it here. The crown, bezel, and some sleek chamfers on the sides of the case are all polished steel, but everything else is brushed, making this a great everyday piece. Drilled lugs are present as well, even though you do have quick-release pins on the included bracelet and the overall look and finish are very attractive.
The dial of the Nodus Retrospect III is beautiful, with what I call an extreme sunray finish, sandwich triangle or shark markers, and it is free of unnecessary text, allowing for an easy-to-read dial, as a dive watch should be. And this watch does use a date, and they put it where it belongs in my opinion, at 6 o’clock, and it is framed nicely and still readable at a glance.
The bezel function is great, due to the finger spring assembly, which produces a smooth and easy-to-turn bezel, but not sloppy at all. I like the way the bezel slopes inward and from farther away, it looks black, but when you get closer, it really is more of a charcoal grey, which matches the dial, but the closer you get, the worse it looks. This is a steel bezel insert with a matte grey DLC coating and I am just not a fan of it. It seems to attract all lint, dirt, and fingerprints easily and it is just not my favorite look for a bezel.
Much like the bezel insert, the new NodeX system of the Nodus Retrospect III is not my favorite either. What is Nodex you ask? Well, it is a proprietary clasp extension system that Nodus came up with that allows for a slimmer clasp while still having an easy on-the-fly extension system to allow for a better fit on the wrist. It sounds great, there has been a lot of hype around it, but I don’t think it lives up to the hype. The extension itself is thin and rattly, moves side to side, doesn’t look good when fully extended and the clasp itself looks a little cheap as well. Yes it is slim, and yes it functions just as it should, and no this is not a $2000 watch so I know not to expect a luxury clasp, I just feel it could use some refinement.
That being said, it does function well, though I did have an issue with the first one that arrived, the NodeX button was DOA, and I had to wait for a replacement. (That is part of the reason for the delay in this review). I did get to swap the buckles out though and because I had not looked at how they were attached beforehand, I was a little perplexed as to how I would remove it. Turns out, you just remove the link on each side of the clasp (the links use screws), and that’s how you replace it. Interesting and easy to do, but again, a little clunky in execution.
Inside is the NH35, a suitable movement for a sub $500 watch, no real complaints here. At this price, it is almost a given that is the movement you will be getting, at least from most US-based microbrands. (I say USA based, but these are still made in Hong Kong, but assembled in Los Angeles. They probably could go with a better movement, say a 9015, if they opted for overseas assembly, but I think many like the fact that these are assembled and quality-checked here in the States.
The best lume available is used on the Nodus Retrospect III, C3 X1 SuperLuminova, and combined with the sandwich markers, this is quite the watch in the dark. I did something I normally don’t do recently and that is I was checking out some other review blogs, and looking at how they construct their reviews. One thing I noticed is many do not cover the lume, nor even show the lume for some sites, and I found that to be odd. For something that is on so many watches and can vary so much, to not discuss it seems out of place.
3 links were removed to fit my 7 1/2 inch (19.05cm) wrist and it is a very comfortable watch on the wrist, and the bracelet doesn’t kink up or pull any hair, though I have to say I wish they were still using the H-link style bracelet over this Oyster link. At 42mm, this is the perfect size for me, and I am glad to see they didn’t go down to 39mm or 38mm as some brands are doing. I believe there should be all different sizes and I understand some love a small watch, but 42 is the sweet spot, at least for my wrist.
This is another solid offering from Nodus, which has shown how a brand can really grow and improve over the years, especially in under a decade as Nodus is still a relatively new brand. The owners are passionate about watches and it shows that though they have a few more expensive models, they still seem to be all about producing the best affordable watch they can, and that helps them get onto the wrists of many collectors. I’ve always had a few conversations with the owners and can say they are just really good guys as well. That doesn’t affect the watches at all, but I think it is nice to know that the owners of any product you own are solid down to earth people.
The NodeX can use some improvement though. I just cannot shy away from that and I think the intentions were very good and admirable, but I hope they are working on version 2, and I hope they are able to achieve a great clasp and extension system that both looks and functions beautifully. If you are wanting one of these now, again, I apologize, seems you will have to wait a bit, but I hope this review gave you all the info you needed.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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