I’m going to get it out right from the start: I like a good homage watch. Especially when it’s well-made and comes with a few twists, like this Nomadic Maraí 401. This homage to the Tudor Black Bay 58 is not a cheap homage nor is it a one-to-one copy of the aforementioned model. It is a proper watch with its own character that comes with a solid build, good finish, and a reliable movement. I could use the Maraí as an example of why a good homage is a nice thing to have, and going further with my train of thought here, that it’s in a way a necessity.
Before we get into the review, I wanted to share some information about the brand and its founder, Peter McAuley. Peter was born and raised in Belfast, a city that used to live at the beat of factories that manufactured various parts for ships and the aerospace industry. It is in Belfast that the Titanic was made as well as the SS Nomadic, a ship that was built to carry passengers and mail to and from the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, two ocean liners that no longer exist.
It was important for Peter to bring back quality manufacturing to Belfast, at least to begin doing so. While the watches are not made or assembled there, he hopes that one day the brand will be in a position to get parts of the watches—if not all—made in Belfast. In the meantime, he put a lot of Belfast and Ireland in the names of the brand (as we saw above) and the model: Maraí means Seafarer in Irish. Peter also worked with a local designer to design a unique font for the brand.
Pretty cool details if you ask me.
On The Wrist
The Maraí 401 is a joy to wear: a case that comes in at 40mm in diameter, 48mm lug-to-lug, and 11.5mm in thickness. Compared to the watch it homages, the Maraí is 1mm larger, 0.4mm longer, and 0.3mm thinner. This means that if you know what wearing a Black Bay 58 feels like on the wrist, you will enjoy wearing the Nomadic. Or vice versa. In my case, I can only judge the wearability of the Nomadic and as you already know, it wears great. The watch sits flat on the wrist thanks to its flat case-back and thin profile. It feels as if the watch is glued to my wrist and that’s the feeling I look for in a diver.
The lugs are short and turn down and have a slab appearance that matches the case profile. The wearing comfort is aided by the comfortable bracelet that tapers gently towards the clasp (more on that later.) I cannot express how nice the Maraí wears except to show it to you in these photos and especially by demonstrating the superb case profile. Having a wrist with a circumference of 16cm/6.25”, the Maraí has just the right proportions for a diver: it’s neither too small nor too big, and it commands just enough wrist presence without making too much of a statement.
As you gathered, it does wear very nicely.
Nomadic Maraí Specs
$910 on bracelet and $934 on bracelet + NATO
It is when looking at the dial that we can notice how much effort the brand put into designing the watch. It also explains the higher than usual price tag for an homage watch from an independent brand, coming in at roughly $910 on the bracelet and $934 with an extra NATO strap. The first element of the dial that stood out are the hands: they remind me of the ones found on vintage IWC fliegers in that the hour hand seems to have been amputated while the minute hand, which reaches the minute track, is of the baton-style variant. The second hand is thin, mostly painted in yellow, and also reaches the edge of the dial. This choice of handset is one of the twists I mentioned in the introduction and which demarcates the Maraí from the Black Bay 58.
While the inspiration for the Maraí is obvious, I do appreciate that Peter tried to make this popular design its own. Not only in the choice of hands, but also in the design of the markers. The latter are applied and have highly-polished surrounds and are filled with generous amounts of BGW9 SuperLuminova. The bespoke logo is typically found at the 12 o’clock position and we can see three lines of text at the 6 o’clock positions: “Maraí 401,” “200m = 660ft,” as well as “Automatic.” By typing the previous sentence I realized that independent brands rarely put the name of their models on the dial, and it’s nice to see Nomadic did it.
Case, Strap, and Movement
As we saw earlier, the case is well-proportioned. It also has a definite sporty look due to being mostly brushed except for a distinct high-polish chamfer that appears on either side of the case and is only interrupted by the flat bezel. The latter is made of ceramic and is endowed with deeply etched Arabic numerals and baton-style hour markers. The first 15 minutes are fully graduated, the same way it is on the Black Bay 58. Lastly, there is a bright lume plot at the 12 o’clock position on the bezel. I have not seen a Black Bay 58 in the metal but I can assure you this bezel is quite superbly executed.
The Maraí is powered by the Sellita SW200-1 which beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and offers 41 hours of power reserve. Not all movements are equal in that no two Sellita SW200’s will be regulated the same. This movement has become very popular with independent brands because it’s solid and made in Switzerland, but also because it runs pretty well off-the-shelf. However, I must say that some kind of regulation must have been done by Nomadic because the SW200-1 powering the Maraí we had on loan runs as well, if not better than many COSC-certified movements. The one we have shows no daily deviations.
Last but not least, the bracelet. And this is where I am coming to you with two quibbles. First, is the fact that Nomadic decided to go for a riveted-style bracelet. It does look good but it is a pain in the neck to adjust as you have to use two screw-drivers at the same time to remove the screws that hold the links together. Maybe I’m not the handiest person but I had to use a clamp to hold the bracelet in place to remove the screws. The second quibble is the clasp that shows no branding and that is long enough to accommodate for more than four holes of micro-adjustments.
I wanted to review the Maraí as soon as I saw photos of it on Instagram. Although photos never do a watch justice, I could tell already that the watch looked particularly well-made. This meant to me that the brand did care about what they are doing and this realization triggered a profound need—perhaps a little obsessive—to get my hands on this watch. And I was not disappointed. I have interviewed enough brand owners to be able to connect the founder’s genuine motivation with the quality of their watches, and it is clear to me that Peter does care and it shows.
Looking at the watch objectively—meaning discarding the fact that Peter was inspired by the Black Bay 58, a fact that he did not hide—the Maraí 401 is a great watch that has a lot to offer. If you are on the market for a solid diver that is well-made and that will be a conversation starter, look no further than the Maraí. Remember the two quibbles I had earlier? Well, they shouldn’t be a concern to you. Peter upgraded the bracelet to get rid of the rivets and added subtle branding on the clasp (the “N” from Nomadic will be edged on the top-right corner.)
I hope that Peter will be successful in making Nomadic into a thriving watch brand and that eventually will be able to bring partial watch manufacturing to Belfast.
Check out more dive watch reviews at The Watch Clicker here
Check out the Nomadic website here