Hands-On: Nodus Sector Dive and Field

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Nodus is a two-person brand operating out of Los Angeles, California, and though the company is quite young, it has deservedly built up a lot of buzz and quite the loyal following (Nodus is also no stranger to Worn & Wound — check out our past coverage here). Today, we’re going hands-on with their most ambitious watches to date — their newest Sector collection. Generally speaking, the Sector is loosely inspired by sector-dialed watches, hence the name. But the overall execution is very different: it’s modern, almost playful, and decidedly sporty.

There are two primary variants within the Sector range — Field and Dive. The naming conventions are pretty apt: the Field is modeled after classic field watches, and the Dive pulls from ‘60s-era skin divers.

Nodus co-founders Wes and Cullen are tried-and-true watch nerds, and they approach their brand through that lens. They go the extra mile by assembling each piece in-house to their exacting standards, which includes regulating each movement to ensure better timekeeping. An impressive feat, especially given the ~$400 price point. 

As I wrote above, the collection features a number of different variants, but to keep things a little simpler we’re going to look at one model from the Dive category and one from the Field. The two we have here are the Dive Tidal with its blue dial and the Field Vapor with its cream dial. Let’s jump right in.

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$400

Hands-On: Nodus Sector Dive and Field

Case
Stainless steel (120-click, DLC, unidirectional bezel on Dive model)
Movement
Seiko NH35 (Dive); NH38 (Field) – regulated in-house
Dial
Multiple colors
Lume
Super-LumiNova
Lens
Double domed sapphire crystal with underside AR
Strap
H-link steel bracelet with micro adjustment at clasp
Water Resistance
150 meters
Dimensions
38mm x 47mm
Thickness
12.9mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$400

Both Field and Dive are built on the same 38mm stainless steel mid-case. The case is crafted from 316L stainless steel and, depending on the variant, it’s finished with a mix of polishing and brushing, or just blasting throughout.

It’s an angular case, faceted along the lugs and mid-case and in some ways reminiscent of the Heuer Carrera. On the lugs, the bevels on the inner and outer surface give the illusion that they’re slimmer than they really are. In profile, the case looks rather blocky though not overly thick, and the downward turn of the lugs helps to create a comfortable fit on the wrist. Each model has a generously sized and textured crown at 3:00 with the Diver featuring a knurled pattern and the Field with a more traditional ridged pattern.

Long, beveled lugs and a large crown…
…on both the Field and Dive.
The bevels keep the mid-case from being slab-sided.
A solid, decorated case back.

The main difference in the cases of the two offerings are the bezel and finishing. On the Diver, you’ll notice a DLC-coated, single-piece steel bezel with some subtle markings cut into the surface. At 12:00, there’s a circular lume pip to help you track elapsed time in the dark. Since the Dive draws more inspiration from the heritage of skin-diving (no assisted breathing tanks), there are some liberties here with the bezel, the most significant of which is a lack of a proper minutes scale. There are marks at every minute, but with the only differentiating marker being the lume pip at 12:00, you really only have one reference point for tracking a dive.

The Field forgoes a rotating bezel in favor of a fixed, highly polished ring of metal surrounding the dial. I’ve found that it picks up on the color of your surroundings, since the polish gleams with a mirror-like shine. Instead of brushing, the Field watch features a blasted finish on the case and bracelet. It’s a personal preference, but I much prefer the finishing of the Dive. It’s not because the finishing of the Field is bad; in fact, its quite well done. But I just like the dynamic nature of the Dive’s mixed surfaces..

Turning the 120-click, unidirectional bezel results in a satisfying snap and the texture on the sides makes it easy to grip.
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While many brands stick to just flat printed dials or, at most, dials with applied markers, Wes and Cullen like to play with dimensionality and layers. The Sector is no exception. The collection is purposefully named after sector-dialed watches that originated back at the turn of the 20th century and were produced by a number of different brands. There’s no hard definition for a sector dial, but most examples have concentric rings inside and outside the hour/minute markers, and there is usually different finishing employed to differentiate between sections. The Nodus Sector toys with this idea, but executes it by playing with dimensionality through different levels and layers.

Of the two examples, I find myself gravitating towards the dial of the Field. There’s just enough going on here to be interesting without crossing the line into being cluttered or busy.

A unique take on the “sector” dial concept.

Looking at the example here, the inner ring is an elevated platform with dark-red accents that are actually a step below the top surface thanks to some welcome sandwich-style cutouts in the dial. There’s a small scale of numerals for 13-24, a throwback to classic field watches. The next step out features some really cool Arabic numerals in a distinct typeface that look great with the silvery-cream dial. Finally, you’ll find an elevated chapter ring rendered in dark gray with white hashmarks for each minute and a deep maroon mark for every five. In the center, you’ll find a crosshair mark in the same sandwich style as the circular lines, flanked above by the “NODUS” name and logo below 12:00, and “SECTOR” in a smaller font below.

Compared to the Field, the look of the Dive is simplified, which makes sense considering it has its own embellishments that don’t exist on the Field. Again, in the middle, there’s a raised platform with printed branding, followed by a lower section where the indices are situated (the markers are trapezoids and they’re accented with Arabic numerals at 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00).

Looking at our example here, there’s a white chapter ring around the outside with the same bold mark every five minutes with a finer mark for each minute in-between. At 4:30, you’ll find a unique circular date window with a custom disc that matches the deep “Tidal” blue of the dial with white printing on it. It’s tastefully integrated into the design, adding functionality while staying out of the way of the design. While slightly restrained compared to the Field, the Diver is by no means boring and is definitely different enough to stand on its own.

Both models feature what is essentially the same handset, though the colors will change depending on the dial color. For the hours and minutes you have two swords, and the second hand is an arrow. It’s a fitting handset — bold, legible, and a nice complement to the overall aesthetic of the dial.

Swiss Super-LumiNova BGW9 means this one has a great nighttime glow.
Swiss Super-LumiNova BGW9 means this one has a great nighttime glow.

Seiko is the movement supplier. Powering the Dive is the NH35 and the Field is the NH38, essentially the same as the 35 but lacking date. These are affordable, reliable workhorse calibers, and they make a whole lot of sense given the price point of these watches. As mentioned above, these movements are regulated in four positions to +/- 10 seconds a day.

Even though the case is a reasonable 38mm, the Sector wears a little larger than that measurement would have you think. This is due to the lug-to-lug length of 47mm and the sizable crown at the 3:00 position. That said, I think the proportions are great and the contours of the case and lugs are very comfortable. Not too heavy, and not too light, the Sector has a nice amount of heft to it without ever weighing your wrist down. Had the case been any larger, I don’t think the watch would wear as well as it does.

On a nylon strap, the watch does sit a little too high for my tastes, but when it’s on the included H-link bracelet, the 12.9mm thickness is hardly a bother. At the lugs, the bracelet measures 20mm wide and tapers down to 18mm, terminating at a medium-sized signed clasp. Speaking of the bracelet, out of the two bracelet options, I prefer the brushed version. It just looks a bit more premium.

Altogether, the Sector is an interesting, modern watch with a few vintage callbacks that serve the design well and don’t immediately make these watches feel as though they’re “heritage” or “neo-vintage.” And that’s a good thing. There’s enough of the reissue thing going on, so something a bit more fresh is wholly welcome. I’m pleased to say that Wes and Cullen stepped outside of the box with their riff on this classic design, and it paid off. The Nodus Sector collection is available now starting at $400 for the Field and $425 for the Diver. Nodus

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.