No other microbrand seems more adept at refining and updating their watches than Nodus. Nodus is constantly tweaking their models until they are near perfect. While this can create some issues for consumers who may want to always have the best version of the model available, Nodus has done a good job in making each iteration feel like a new watch. The soul of the original is there, but they are usually new enough to justify the release.
Nodus has done this again with one of their most popular models, the Contrail. The Nodus Contrail 2 is aiming to take everything that fans loved about the original and make a little better in every way. It can be a challenge to do this especially when Nodus prides themselves on putting so much thought into the designs of their watches, but they seem to have found a way.
What’s New on the Wrist
I’ve taken a look at both Contrail models before (V1 and SS) and thought they were great watches. The fit and finish on both was great. One thing I like on the SS that I felt improved the on-wrist look of the Contrail was the bezel. The SS had a bezel that was slimmer and more refined than the V1. Nodus has carried that over to the Contrail 2 in the new sapphire and stainless steel bezel. It slopes down instead of lying flat like on the V1. This makes the watch look slimmer from the side as well as straight on when on the wrist.
Before I reviewed this watch, the Duality was my favorite-fitting watch from the brand. The turndown of the lugs and overall dimensions made it a fantastic fit on my wrist. The Contrail 2 has taken the crown from the Duality. It’s ridiculous to think that Nodus made a watch that was molded from my wrist but it almost seems like that is what happened. The lugs and caseback sink into my wrist and it feels like the watch is contoured to my wrist. Your mileage may vary but given how Nodus puts care into the fit of their watches, I’d wager this will be the case for most people.
Even though the comfort is superb, the look isn’t quite the same. I had the stainless steel bezel version and I felt that the bezel blended in too much with the case and bracelet, giving it a slightly chunky look when viewed straight on. I doubt this would be the case with the sapphire bezel version as there would be some color to break up the lines. With that said, it doesn’t look bad. To me this comes down to personal preference and if you like the look of lots of stainless steel. Thankfully, Nodus has given us options.
12-hour bezels can be hit-or-miss in their usability. With the current COVID-19 situation in today’s world, I’m not doing any travelling to take advantage of the bezel for that purpose but that doesn’t mean I can’t find uses for it. My counterparts at 40&20 live on the west coast so I’ve been using the bezel to easily get that 3 hour difference on the face of the watch. It’s not hard to subtract 3 hours, but why not take advantage of the fun? I’ve also used it as a timing bezel. 12-hour bezels are awesome if you’re smoking a pork shoulder and need to time things in hours instead of minutes.
Nodus Contrail 2 Video Review
The dial layout is largely unchanged from previous iterations of the Contrail. Nodus have kept the handset and markers from the Contrail 1 and have taken the road of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I agree with their decision as it is one of my favorite sets from Nodus.
The markers feel like a modern interpretation of the baton markers from Datejusts and Oyster Perpetuals. They are tapered and match the handset perfectly. As you would expect if you’re familiar with any of Nodus’ other releases, everything is filled with a ton of lume and looks awesome at night.
Nodus haven’t kept everything the same as the Contrail 1. Nodus have introduced a roulette date wheel on the Contrail 2. Alternating between white text and red text, the date wheel coordinates with the accents on the dial. The colors are different depending on the dial color chosen. For example, the white dial has black and blue text. I did find the red text difficult to read sometimes, but the cool factor outweighs the function in this context. The date window has also been moved from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock, creating a more balanced layout.
The chapter ring is steel and contains a 13-24 hour track. At first I didn’t notice the chapter ring was steel; it can appear white at times (some earlier Contrail models have a white chapter ring). It’s a subtle touch that starts to pop out at you once you notice it. It also coordinates well with the steel bezel.
Case and Bracelet
The case of the Contrail 2 feels like a pure sports watch. It’s got brushing and polishing in all the right places and the lines and curves are executed flawlessly. The gentle turndown of the lugs looks beautiful from the side. The way the polished chamfer flows along the length of the case and turns into the crown guards is a thing of beauty. Add a small polished undercut and drilled lugs and you have a case that is both beautiful and functional.
I do have one gripe and it’s been there since the original Contrail. The crown. While the knurling on the crown provides a decent grip, I still feel the crown is too small. Unscrewing the crown isn’t so bad but I don’t like screwing this crown back in. If the crown were a touch larger, I feel like it would make all the difference.
Nodus have been stepping up their bracelet game for the past year or so and I think they hit their stride with the Duality’s bracelet. The H-link bracelet with polished chamfers from the Duality has made its way to the Contrail 2. It’s a comfortable bracelet and the links articulate well so you get a good fit.
A small change from the Duality is the clasp. Nodus has implemented a push-button clasp with no fold-over lock. This is my preferred type of clasp as I believe in practical use they are just as secure and also wear slimmer on the wrist. This helps create a better balance between the watch head and the clasp.
I remember talking with Wes of Nodus a couple years back right after the original Contrail was released, and we discussed bi-directional bezels. Wes believes (and I agree) that all 12-hour bezels should be bi-directional. There are plenty of watches out there that stick a 12-hour bezel on the mechanism for their existing dive bezels and yes, it does work, but it takes some of the utility out of it.
In the example I cited above where I was setting the bezel to west coast time, it makes more sense for me to rotate the bezel clockwise to line the 9 up at the 12 o’clock position than it does to go counter-clockwise. I mean, it takes 3 times as long. Of course this is in jest but there is something to be said about using the proper mechanism in the bezel for its intended purpose.
Couple this with the ceramic ball-bearing mechanism that Nodus uses in the Contrail and you have a great bezel action. It feels entirely different from a 120-click dive bezel. You can feel the ball bearings sliding over each other and it creates a unique sound. The ceramic ball bearings themselves should outlast the user so you can expect this to be the case for the entire time you own the watch.
The Lorier Neptune Series 3 was one of my favorite releases from this year. The proportions and bracelet were spot on and the watch feels just as good on the wrist as the Contrail 2. While the Neptune might not be as “do anything” as the Contrail 2 due to the plexi crystal, it is still a highly capable watch. Check out my review of it here.
The Summiteer is probably the closest competitor to the Contrail 2 if I were making a buying decision. While the Summiteer doesn’t have a rotating bezel, it definitely fits into the GADA segment with its screw down crown and rugged construction. Like the Neptune, it comes in a bit cheaper than the Contrail 2 but does have some compromises as well.
Nodus seems to have become the kings of self-improvement. They have taken their core collection of watches like the Retrospect and Contrail and made them better as they have learned more about what watch buyers want. While I have to applaud them for this constant refinement, I hope they continue to develop new watches with the same fervor and want for perfection.
The Contrail SS was close to being the perfect watch for me. There were a couple things that have been addressed with the Contrail 2 that have changed that. The refined case, slimmer bezel, and small touches like the roulette date wheel make this feel more like a new watch rather than an iterative version. I’d be happy to buy one.
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Nodus Contrail 2 Specs
Miyota 9015 w/roulette date