The Nodus Contrail was originally released in 2018 as their first departure from a true dive watch. The Contrail was smaller, had a 12-hour bi-directional bezel and was dubbed a GADA or Go Anywhere Do Anything watch. The Contrail was designed to be a watch you could travel, hike, swim and explore with. It was my favorite release from the brand.
Like the Retrospect V2 that was released earlier this year, Nodus has built upon the original design of the Contrail and released new variations and colorways with their release of the Contrail SS. The heart and core specs of the watch are the same, but it feels like a different watch. Does the Contrail SS capture the same magic as the original? Do the changes still make it a GADA watch? Let’s find out.
Fit & Finish
No matter what Contrail model you choose (sapphire bezel, fixed bezel or stainless steel bezel), you will be greeted with the same 39mm wide case. This case width is part of what makes the Contrail a watch that can fit in multiple scenarios. The Contrail sits comfortably on your wrist without disappearing or being obtrusive.
When strapping on the Contrail for the first time, the wearer is going to immediately notice how it hugs his wrist. The lugs slope down and conform well to the wrist. I’m a big fan of sloping lugs and I feel it is an underrated design element of a lot of watches. Flat watches can often sit awkwardly on your wrist, but a gentle slope built into the case can vastly improve the comfort of the watch. The 47mm lug-to-lug distance will make the Contrail fit well even on smaller wrists.
Drilled lug holes aid in strap changes and make removing the stock H-link bracelet easy. The bracelet included with the Contrail is comfortable and easy to adjust thanks to screwed links. The links themselves are smaller than most H-link bracelets, especially when compared to the H-link bracelet included on the Nodus Avalon. The smaller links help the bracelet drape around the wrist and provide similar comfort to something like a jubilee or other fine link bracelet. If you opt to change the bracelet out for straps, the 20mm lug width will leave you with plenty of choices in aftermarket straps.
The bracelet is fitted with a twin-button and flip-lock clasp stamped with the Nodus logo. There are 6 micro-adjustment holes on the clasp, allowing you to get a proper fit without removing many links.
A New Bezel
There was only one thing I disliked about the original Contrail and that was the size of the bezel. The sapphire bezel always felt a tad too tall for my tastes. Nodus opted to change the shape of the bezel on the Contrail SS. The bezel is no longer tall and flat on the top; it slopes down toward the outside of the watch.
On the sapphire bezel, there are 3 rows of knurling on the side; the SS bezel has 2 rows. This is a quick way to judge the difference in height of the bezels. I’ve found the sloping also helps the watch slide under my shirt cuff a little easier and provides a more pleasing profile.
If you haven’t noticed already, the bezel on the Contrail SS is… stainless steel. The one-piece bezel is no longer fully lumed but does feature a lumed triangle at 12 o’clock. The stainless steel bezel provides a more unibody look to the rest of the watch and a monochromatic color scheme on the Arctic White dial seen here.
Despite the slimness of the bezel, it is still easy to grip and turn in both directions. Often called the “poor man’s GMT.” the 12-hour bezel is a great way to track two time zones without any extra mechanics or complications built into the watch’s movement.
Nodus wanted to make sure the bezel was bi-directional to provide easier time zone changes upon landing at your destination. The hour markers on the bezel are filled with black and are easy to read against the stainless steel. The bezel is easy to turn in both directions thanks to ball bearings loaded into the mechanism.
In addition to the original colors offered for the Contrail, Nodus added 2 new dial colors for the Contrail SS. Artic White and Infinity Blue are the most striking colors in the lineup. Every color is fitted under a flat-top box sapphire crystal with a green AR coating applied to the underside. The Infinity Blue features a radial sunburst blue dial that contrasts against the new stainless steel bezel in a pleasing way.
The Artic White version I have here can appear matte at some angles but does contain some shimmer when you catch it in bright light or sunlight. In lower-light situations, the dial can almost appear to be a bright gray akin to the Nimbus Gray offered on the Halios Seaforth.
The applied markers are outlined in polished gunmetal but appear to be black in most situations, making the dial legible in all scenarios. I’m thankful for the effect because if they did not have this, the markers would disappear into the dial. The markers and hands are generously filled with Super-LumiNova® C3 and light up like a torch with the slightest touch of sunlight. If you have owned a Nodus watch before, you will know that they do not skimp on the lume application.
The rest of the dial only contains the brand’s name and logo, Contrail, Automatic, and the date window. Contrail is printed in a pale blue, giving the wearer a small pop of color on the dial. The date wheel is white with black text and is outlined in steel.
Case & Crystal
The rest of the case of the Contrail SS is finished well, as are other Nodus releases. The case is mostly brushed with polished chamfers on the lugs. The brushing and polishing are both top-notch.
The bezel is where some of my favorite finishing is contained. The knurling on the side of the bezel is almost matte but above and below it is polished. This creates an eye-catching glimmer when light shines on the bezel. The contrast between the brushing on the top of the bezel and the polished surfaces on the sides and chamfers is beautiful.
On the previous Contrail models, the crystal’s height was slightly above the bezel but with the new bezel shape that effect is exaggerated. I originally thought it was a new crystal shape, but Nodus confirmed that the sloping bezel makes the crystal appear slightly taller. I have a soft spot for box-type crystals, so I enjoy the effect.
The crown is heavily protected by large crown guards. The crown is on the smaller side but not too small at 5.7mm. For some, it may be a little difficult to grip when first unscrewing it, but it becomes easier once loose. The knurling on the crown aids in winding and time setting. The crown is also stamped with the Nodus logo.
The screw-down caseback is printed with the same 3 jets as previous Contrail models. The caseback is fitted with a Viton® caseback gasket to aid in water resistance.
Go Anywhere Do Anything
Powering the Contrail SS is a Miyota 9015 automatic movement. The original Contrail was Nodus’ first watch to get this Miyota movement and it has since been used in the Avalon and again here with the Contrail SS. As with all Nodus watches, the movement is regulated in 4 positions.
I’ve stated before that I like Miyota movements, even though they seem to be looked down on in some circles. The 9000 series Miyota movements are excellent calibers that are accurate, easy to service/replace and provide a 28,800 vph beat rate. I have also found that these movements wind smoothly and are pleasurable to operate.
Contributing to the Go Anywhere Do Anything mantra the Contrail embodies, the watch is rated to 200 meters of water resistance. The screw-down crown and caseback contribute to this WR rating. While it is not marketed as a dive watch, it could certainly be used underwater and in other wet conditions without fear of damaging the watch.
The Contrail SS comes packaged as all other Nodus watches do. A heavy, branded cardboard box encapsulates the watch, a watch roll, cleaning cloth and regulation and warranty cards.
As they did with the Retrospect V2, Nodus has proved that they can elevate an existing design and make it feel like a brand-new watch. The Contrail SS is a refined version of the original Contrail, without being all that different. The same heart and soul beats within the Contrail SS but it gains a small facelift on the outside with the new dial colors and bezel option.
Overall, the Contrail SS is a joy to wear. When I tried out the original Contrail I loved the way it fit. The combination of case size, lug-to-lug distance, and the lug shape made it a great fit for my wrist and was a formula that would work well with others.
The build quality, water resistance rating and bezel choice do make the Contrail SS a true Go Anywhere Do Anything watch. If you pick one up, you should have no trepidation taking this watch on everything from swimming to climbing a mountain.
The guys behind Nodus have been coming up with some great original designs for their watches and I’m happy to see a brand unafraid to expand upon a current offering and listening to their fans. The brand is starting to gain some serious traction and it will be exciting to see what they launch next.
The Contrail SS is offered in Arctic White, Infinity Blue, Black Sand, Ballistic Green and Mute Gray dial colors. The Arctic White and Infinity Blue will join the Contrail 39 fixed bezel lineup.
|Lug-to-lug Height||47mm||Lug Width||20mm|
|Crystal||Box-type Sapphire||Strap||H-Link Bracelet|
|Water Resistance||200 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova® C3|
More Images of the Nodus Contrail
Check out the Nodus website