The tagline for the Nodus Retrospect III is “made in the spirit of influential but lesser-known vintage dive watches.” Think Gruen. Think Breitling. But make sure you think Rado Captain Cook. Were it not for the contemporary dial colours and modern case size, the Retrospect III might well have stepped straight out of the 1950s. As it is, the watch breathes new life into a familiar design, leaving just enough of the unconventional to make it distinctive—but not so much as to make it strange.
The Retrospect III is not exactly an overhaul of the original. After all, why fix it, if it ain’t broke. So, let’s call it “tweaked” and move on. The trademark 120-click, unidirectional, inward-sloping bezel is still there. But instead of a ceramic or a metal insert, Nodus have opted for matte black DLC. The 316L stainless steel case is slightly smaller at 40mm in diameter, but the bezel has expanded to 42mm. The lug to lug is 48mm (the same as the second iteration, but larger than the first); however, the timepiece has shed almost a full millimeter in thickness, now measuring in at 13mm. New chamfering along the bottom of the case also contributes to the illusion of a much slimmer watch.
Beyond its unique aesthetics, there is a practical implication to a concave bezel: it remains largely protected from the scratches and dings of daily wear. This means that the bezel markings also remain more easily legible long into the future. On this newest iteration, those markings are also lumed.
Nodus have always prided themselves on the bezel operating mechanism used in the Retrospect Series. Unlike the more common usage of click plates in many dive watches, the Retrospect III employs a finger-spring, not dissimilar to that found in Rolexes from the previous two decades. This offers a much more precise and satisfying action.
The wider, pie-plate bezel also extends just beyond the case to partially shield the large, screwed-down crown in the absence of crown protectors. With the addition of its screwed caseback, the Retrospect III is rated to 200 of water resistance.
The other significant update here is the stainless steel three-link bracelet and its proprietary NodeX extension clasp. Previously available only on the Avalon II Steel, the custom clasp offers five locking positions of adjustment at the press of a button—without adding any awkward bulk to the milled clasp.
Again, drawing on those unsung vintage divers mentioned earlier, the dial of the Retrospect III sports long triangular indices that focus the eye and provide for an assertive visual appeal. Making those markers all the more bold, is the sandwich-style dial with its luminous underlayer of Grade C3 X1 Swiss Super-LumiNova. In addition, the trapezoidal date window at six is about as tastefully integrated as possible with a perfectly colour-matched date wheel. And it all looks good through the lens of its double-domed sapphire crystal.
In total, the Retrospect is available in four colourways. Including the Salmon Sky reference featured here, we also have Nebula Blue, Slate Grey, and Flare Orange.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
48mm Lug to Lug
22mm Lug Width
Screwed Caseback and Crown
120-click Unidirectional Bezel
200m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Double-Domed Sapphire Crystal|
/w AR Undercoating
Date @ 6 O’clock
Grade C3 X1 Super-LumiNova
|Movement||Seiko NH 35|
41-Hour Power Reserve
Regulate In-house to +/-10 secs/day
|Strap||Stainless Steel Bracelet |
/w NodeX Extension Clasp
Nodus Retrospect III
Nodus gets the little things right in the way few other microbrands can. This is the third iteration of their flagship model and still they are searching for perfection. Though many of the changes are subtle, they mark a commitment to refinement. Over time, the brand has gently pushed the model from sporty in the direction of genteel. The small change in the colouring of the seconds hand, or the discreet chamfer on the underside of the midcase all point toward a final vision that is shimmering into existence.
Inspiration, which originally came from vintage timepieces such as the Gruen Ocean Chief or the Breitling Super Ocean, has morphed into a concept all their own–one that is in turn retro in genesis but contemporary in execution.
I don’t have many complaints about a watch under $500, with a proprietary clasp, assembled and regulated in the US. However, I would like to see the tolerances around the female endlinks adjusted to allow for a cleaner drape.
With its predominantly brushed case, its 200m of water resistance, its drilled lugs and quick-release pins, the Retrospect III–on paper–sounds like the quintessential tool watch. And in some respect it is. But it also transcends that categorization. Like those early quirky skin divers of the 50s and 60s, the Retrospect exudes a touch of class. It’s a gentlemen’s diver, of sorts. The kind of watch you could take snorkelling in the afternoon and leave on for drinks in the evening. The colourways cover a broad range from the sophisticated blue and grey fumé dials to the playful range of sunray burst salmon and orange. And what a bracelet. The gentle taper of its brushed H-links from 22mm at the lugs to a svelte 18mm at the clasp is simply perfect. And then there is that clasp. Solid. Milled. And expertly designed to expand throughout the day as your wrist swells–or perhaps to fit snugly over your dive glove. This is a watch in slow evolution, maintaining that which made it popular in the beginning, but imperceptibly morphing into what it was always meant to be.
The Nodus Retrospect III retails from $475USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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One thought on “Off the Cuff: Nodus Retrospect III”
Wonderful review Robi 🤙🏽 Nodus is definitely a cut above the other micro’s and with that willingness to always be improving, they will be around in the future.
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