Hands-On: the Nodus x Raven Trailtrekker

“Whoa, this thing is cool” is what I found myself speaking out loud upon opening up the box for the newest collaboration between Nodus Watches and Raven Watches — two forces in the microbrand community that have a solid history of putting out some really great watches. The real question is, what happens when these two team up? Is this the initial meeting of superheros that eventually leads to the Avengers of the watch space? I’m in no place to make that call, but what I can confidently comment about is how this watch looks and feels on the wrist. But like any good saga, we could use a little back story. 

Nodus Watches are a team based out of Los Angeles, CA with a focus on providing premium timepieces that are durable and innovative, while supporting the rest of the watch community. Whether you’re attending one of their Intersect events that brings smaller brands and their customers together across the US, or checking out their other collabs as part of their Design Lab, there’s a lot to like about Nodus. Raven Watches is based out of Kansas and their timepieces are inspired by travel, adventure, and photography —- making for rugged, versatile timepieces that are built for the long haul. The inspiration behind the TrailTrekker is the perilous journey that many heartlanders from the midwest made from Kansas to California, the home states of each brand. Let’s take a closer look at this noteworthy collab.


The 39.5mm case is perfectly proportioned for my 6.75” wrist. It reminds me a lot of the case of my own Grand Seiko SBGN003, even down to the wide bevels on the edge of the lugs and fixed 24-hour GMT bezel. The shape of the case is all Nodus, it’s the same design as their upcoming Contrail GMT. Instead of highly polished accents, the TrailTrekker goes for a much more muted approach, featuring a dark gray DLC coating on both the case and bracelet. I had to do a double take, at first I thought the bezel didn’t match the case, but upon closer inspection (and a look at the spec sheet) noticed that it was coated with a dark green Cerakote to match the dial. The gray of the case leans greenish, especially in darker lighting conditions. As a fan of all things olive, this was a welcomed discovery. The case takes on a look almost like titanium, but minus the difficulty of machining and increased cost. 


Hands-On: the Nodus x Raven Trailtrekker

316L stainless steel with gray DLC coating
Miyota 9075
Dark green
BGW9 SuperLuminova
Gray DLC flat link bracelet with NodeX clasp
Water Resistance
200 meters
39.5 x 46.6mm
Lug Width
Screw down

On the right side of the case, an aggressively knurled black crown resides between two crown guards. The bezel I mentioned earlier is dark green with black text deeply engraved and filled with a slightly glossy enamel. Overall, the look is aggressive and tough, and I happen to love it. It’d be right at home in a collection full of standard steel watches, bringing something different to the table without being over the top. 

Dial + Hands

Raven Watches took lead on the dial, bringing their signature simplicity and legibility to the table. Large indices are filled with bright BWG9 SuperLuminova. A prominent triangle marks 12, pointed blocks are present at 3 and 9, while the date display resides at 6. All of the hours in between are square blocks. The lume reads a pale yellow, which really pops off the dark green textured base surface of the dial. Running around the outside of the dial, a series of hash marks with bolder marks every hour frame the dial. For a watch that’s dual-branded, the design here really works. The Nodus word mark is rendered in black text just below 12, and in small writing just underneath is the model name, “TRAILTREKKER” in all-caps. Just above 6 is Raven’s shield logo, which features the silhouette of a Raven within a shield-shaped outline. The dial is easy to read at a glance, whether it’s day or night thanks to the healthy application of the BGW9 lume. 

A set of angular hands point to the hours and minutes, while a yellow GMT hand takes care of tracking a different time zone (or your home time zone, depending on how you choose to set the watch). They’re finished with a thick grain brushing that adds just a bit more texture to the dial. As far as legibility goes, there’s really nothing to complain about. All of the dial elements balance out with each other, resulting in a classic, no-nonsense watch. 


Inside the TrailTrekker is one of the cooler movements to hit the mass market in recent years. The argument over whether or not something was a “true GMT” was getting tiresome, where before the Miyota 9075, the “true” options were usually limited to watches with a much higher price point. We don’t have to get too far into it, but the “true” or “flyer-style” GMT has a quick-adjust main hour hand, while a “caller” GMT has a quick-adjust 24-hour hand. Personally, I find flyers like the Miyota in the Trailtrekker to be much easier to make sense of, especially while traveling. When you’re in the air or crossing a timezone over land, simply unscrew the crown and rotate it to advance the hour hand forward or backwards while the GMT hand stays on the home time. 

The movement itself features the greatest hits playlist of specs with a 28,800vph beat rate, a 42 hour power reserve, 24 jewels, and an anti-shock system. One thing that sets the Nodus apart is the fact that they regulate the movement in house to +/-8 seconds per day, tightening up the factory movement’s accuracy an impressive amount. I’m excited to see this movement appear in more watches as time goes on. It was a great choice for an adventure-ready tough GMT like the TrailTrekker. 

Wearability and Strap Options

If I had to pick, I would say that my favorite size watch is between 39 and 40mm. It’s the goldilocks size for my 6.75” wrist, and I have a hard time saying no to watches that fall within that range. The TrailTrekker is right in the middle, hitting the perfect sweet spot for me. While I enjoy a nice 36mm and I’ve never said no to a 42mm diver, the 39.5mm GMT is a big win. At 11.8mm thick, it’s got enough thickness to have some nice wrist presence, but never feel too bulky, even when worn on a nylon strap. The included flat link stainless steel bracelet is treated with the same gray DLC as the case and closes via Nodus’ NodeX clasp. It’s a really cool mechanism that allows you a wide range of quick adjustment for the size. Simply push a button on the underside of the clasp and pull the bracelet out. It’s an elegant solution, especially since the clasp’s proportions remain reigned in. The TrailTrekker works well on both bracelet and strap, making it a versatile watch that can be worn in a myriad of ways. 


There’s a lot to like about the TrailTrekker. Both brands clearly contributed to the overall package, and the result is a harmonious design that nails what it set out to do. Just one look at the TrailTrekker and you can see that it’s durable, aggressive, and – most importantly – very wearable. As a guy that tends to gravitate towards some shade of olive green pants and a black tee, the TrailTrekker felt right at home within my wardrobe. I especially like their choice in movement, easy-to-read dial, unique gray DLC treatment, and Cerakote bezel. 

There’s one thing which does bug me a little bit, and that’s the willingness of the DLC coating to pick up fingerprints. I’m the owner of a DLC titanium Fuji XPro-3, and that thing is a fingerprint magnet. I had a similar experience with the TrailTrekker. There’s something about that shade of DLC that just likes to collect and display fingerprints. If you’re someone who’s easily bothered by that, you might have a tough time with the TrailTrekker. If you’re someone who throws their watch on in the morning and knocks it around all day without a care in the world, then there won’t be any problems here. 

At $875, the TrailTrekker represents a solid value. The upgraded case treatments, in-house regulated flyer GMT movement, and solid spec sheet more than justify the price. The TrailTrekker is available from Nodus on Friday, March 15th at 9am PST with shipping set to begin on March 22nd. I have a feeling this one has the potential to move quickly, so make sure you’re ready to go when they go on sale. Nodus x Raven

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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.