Hands-On Video with the Nodus Contrail and Contrail 39

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Nodus has quickly made a name for itself in the year-plus the brand has been around. Already on their third release, the LA-based duo behind Nodus has focused on watches that are clearly driven by a genuine enthusiast’s passion. Clever, creative, and affordable, Nodus watches feature the kinds of details—from sapphire bezels to subtle vintage influences—that keep value in mind and make watch-nerds happy.

Introducing the Nodus Contrail and Contrail 39.

Nodus’ third release is the Contrail, a duo of designs (one with a bezel, one without) available in a variety of dial colors. The Contrail is meant to be a versatile sport watch for travel. It’s a watch that can take a beating thanks to the sapphire crystal, bezel, and viton gaskets; take a swim with thanks to the 200 meters of water resistance; and take a meeting with thanks to its H-link bracelet, classic proportions, and handsome style. The bezel version is simply labeled the Contrail, while the slightly more compact, bezel-free variant is called the Contrail 39.

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$575

Hands-On Video with the Nodus Contrail and Contrail 39

Case
Stainless steel.
Movement
Miyota 9015
Dial
Sand Black; Ballistic Green (Others Available)
Lume
C3 Super-LumiNova
Lens
Domed Sapphire (Double AR)
Strap
H-link Bracelet
Water Resistance
200 meters
Dimensions
39 x 47mm
Thickness
13mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw-Down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$575

Though the two variants are very similar watches, the bezel makes a world of difference in the overall appearance as well as how the watches wear. Measuring 39 (40.5 at the bezel) x 47 x 13 millimeters to the top of domed sapphire, the case is meant to evoke classic outdoors and travel watches. This is most clear on the non-bezel watch, which has a wide, solid steel bezel with radial brushing. The bezel version speaks more to travel and, despite a somewhat retro insert, more modern pieces like the Sinn 104. It also gives the watch a much bolder appearance without upping the size too much.

The Contrail features a solid 200-meter water resistance.

The finishing is less that of a tool watch than a business casual piece, with well executed brushing, polishing, and beveled edges throughout. This is a standout feature of the Contrail given the price point. Additionally, the bezel has surprisingly high-end features for the cost, such as a bi-directional bearing bezel (which feels great in action) and a sapphire insert.

The dial also speaks to classic inspirations, but it doesn’t veer too hard into vintage territory, and it definitely has utility in mind. It’s a pretty straightforward design with a main central surface in one of four colors (Black Sand, Mute Gray, Laguna Sand, and Ballistic Green) with applied markers for the hours. The markers are fence-post shaped—save the one at twelve, which is larger and doubled with a v-shape. The markers are all filled with C3 Super-LumiNova that glows very well into the night.

Ballistic Green and Black Sand side-by-side.

I got to play with both the green and black variants, and while I found both to be appealing, the green dial really stood out as something unique. The Black Sand has an odd texture that I’m not sure I love.

At the edge of the dial is an edge ring that contrasts in either color or finish. On the Ballistic Green model this ring is glossy gray, while on the Sand Black it’s a glossy black. In both instances, the ring does a good job of framing the dial and breaking up the textures a bit. Around the main surface is then a chapter ring with a finely printed index featuring seconds/minutes and 1/5th seconds. Lastly, there is a date window at three. Having the date makes total sense on a watch meant for travel, though I did find there to be something distracting or unrefined about the framed window.

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The hands chosen for the Contrail maintain the balance between legibility and classic appeal. The hour and minute hands are tapered swords rendered in polished metal with generous amounts of C3 luminous paint. The second hand is a white stick with a large counterweight and just a touch of lume at the tip. The fact that the latter glows at all is impressive.

The lume does not disappoint.

The Contrail comes on an H-link bracelet that tapers 2 millimeters from 20 millimeters down to 18 at the clasp. Aesthetically, it’s a nice choice for the watch as it’s a bit different than your classic oyster, and still maintains a solid, rugged look. The links are all brushed to match the lugs. The two standout features for me were the single-sided screws that hold the links together and the micro-adjusting clasp. The former because they make adjusting the bracelet an easy job that anyone with a small screwdriver can handle, and the latter because I could really get a perfect fit on the wrist. I get close with most bracelets, but they’re usually a touch too tight or loose, which inevitably leads to their retirement. With six points of adjustment, I could really hone it in here. The only issue I found with the bracelet was that the quality of the endlinks didn’t really match up with everything else. At a glance, they appear fine, but under scrutiny they are a touch sloppy.

The Contrail has great presence on a 7-inch wrist.

Both watches wear very well, and the modest diameters and short lug-to-lug length keep them centered on the wrist. The 39 wears smaller and a bit more under-the-radar, while the bezel model has a bolder presence. Despite my general preference for modest timepieces, I found the latter more to my liking. The wide bezel with the sapphire insert acts like an extension to the dial, giving it more of a presence while still keeping it small. Additionally, I just find the utility of a 12-hour bezel hard to pass on.

Stylistically, Nodus nailed versatility with the Contrail. It looks great as a sport watch with casual attire, or as a more conservative piece with a blazer. The bracelet goes a long way in upping the maturity of the watch out of the box, while throwing it on vintage-styled leather or a nylon mil-strap can make it more fun and youthful. The green color is expectedly a bit less traditional than the black, so maybe it’s a bit less versatile, but as a stylish travel watch it nails it.

The Contrail’s H-link bracelet is a refreshing change of pace from a classic oyster.

All in all, the Nodus Contrail and Contrail 39 are very successful timepieces with a lot of points of interest. Whether it’s the balanced aesthetics, the useful bezel, the modest sizing, or the above-average finishing, there is plenty to get into with these watches. Not yet mentioned are the solid Miyota 9015 engines that have been adjusted to four positions in Nodus’ LA-based studio. Lastly, it’s worth noting the extremely competitive pricing of $575 for the 39 and $599 for the bezel model. That’s right at the sweet spot where you know the value is solid.

So if you’re looking for a new travel companion or day-to-day watch that can take a beating, then be sure to check out the Contrail. Nodus

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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