Designed and assembled in Los Angeles, California, the Sector Field is a modern take on a classic early 20th-century ‘field watch’, updated with fresh, contemporary colours as well as some sophisticated design touches and bang up-to-date manufacturing techniques. Unlike many field watches, it’s not some retro throwback – but it’s made to be just as tough as the originals that inspired it.
If you’re not entirely sure what a field watch is, let us enlighten you. To do that, we need to – ahem – turn back time to the late 19th century. Back then, the Victorian gent would not have been seen dead with a wristwatch. Watches worn on the wrist were delicate pieces of jewellery designed for women. Men wore pocket watches, usually hung from a fob on the waistcoat.
That all changed in the trenches of the First World War, when army officers realised that carefully synchronised artillery barrages and infantry attacks only really worked if you knew what the time was. Unfortunately, elegant pocket watches were rather impractical for muddy modern warfare. Thus, the field watch was born – a robust, accurate and reliable wristwatch with a simple but highly legible dial that told you the exact time at a glance. They proved their worth and were subsequently adopted (and adapted) by armed forces across the world.
Who is the Nodus Sector Field Automatic Watch For?
Though it’s ostensibly a field watch, you might think the Sector Field also shares some similarities with classic ‘sports’ or explorer watches. That’s because the Sector Field utilises the same basic case as Nodus’ Sector Sport range. In fact, so too do the brand’s Sector Dive and Sector Pilot watches, which just demonstrates the versatility of the core design. It’s a real jack of all trades.
Why pick the field over the sport, dive or pilot models though? Well, this one has all the key elements of an authentic mil-spec field watch – easy legibility, water-resistant construction, 24-hour military time track and robust build. For us it’s the most versatile piece in the Nodus range, and the one best suited to outdoor adventures.
The case is made of 316L stainless steel, with a range of blasted and polished surfaces that add style and interest without detracting from the purposeful ‘field watch’ vibe. The drilled lugs are fairly prominent but have a downwards sweep to follow the natural curve of a wrist. They also look well-balanced when compared to the dial and bezel. The latter is an unusual flat step design, which adds depth to the dial without creating a large, sloped metal ring that would otherwise be distracting.
One of our favourite features is the highly scratch-resistant, flat-top sapphire crystal with a domed underside and a blue anti-reflective coating, which has been applied to the inside of the crystal. The outer edge of the crystal is bevelled, which minimises the chances of chipping it. It’s a really nice design detail that elevates the Sector Field above most other modern takes on the field watch, while also aiding legibility and durability.
With a 38mm case width, the Nodus Sector Field is squarely within classic field watch dimensions. It measures 47mm lug-to-lug, so it looks relatively compact on the wrist. The chunky crown protrudes a long way from the case, which some may dislike, but it does make the crown easy to unscrew and wind or adjust – a plus for practicality.
At 12.5mm thick, it’s fairly chunky, but the flat-stepped bezel and bevelled crystal avoids any hard or sharp edges that might otherwise catch on shirt cuffs or jacket sleeves. The watch weighs 74g, climbing to 160g if you include the steel bracelet, so it’s fair to say it has a bit of heft. But all in all, it’s a wearable and well-proportioned watch.
Field watches are known for their utilitarian styling – but by extension, that usually makes their dials spartan, functional and well, a bit boring. You certainly can’t level that accusation at the Sector Field though. It’s one of the most eye-catching watches we’ve worn, with a dial that is full of colour, texture and depth thanks to its sandwich-construction ‘sector’ dial (hence the watch’s name). It’s way more interesting to look at than a flat printed dial. To us, the graduated tones are reminiscent of those sunburst electric guitars from the ‘50s and ‘60s. There’s definitely a bit of rock n’ roll about the Sector Field.
It’s been available in various different hues, but the current range offers a choice of ‘marina’ (light blue), ‘redwood’ (red-brown) or ‘malibu’ (cream). Despite this lively use of colour though, it nails the fundamental essentials of a field watch: namely easy, instant readability in all situations and scenarios, even from acute angles or in dim light. Hour numerals are printed in crisp white, and a smaller 24hr inner track nods to this watch’s military inspirations. The hour and minute hands are painted matte white and fully lumed, with a broad baton shape that tapers to a sharp point. The seconds hand is a classic arrow pointer in powder blue with a lumed tip, extending all the way to the edge of the dial for maximum precision.
There’s also a date window placed at 4.30. It does feel like it’s been shoehorned in a little, but at least the date wheel is not too obtrusive and is colour-matched to the dial itself. It’s worth noting that the watch is actually available without a date function if preferred though. In all honesty, if you don’t need a watch that tells you the date, we’d probably dispense with it – the dial looks much cleaner and more balanced without it.
Hands and indices are liberally coated in Swiss Super-LumiNova T-C1 X1 grade, which has an attractive blue glow. It’s thick-printed for a 3D effect, but this also has the benefit of boosting performance in low-light conditions. It glows brightly and distinctly, with good duration.
The watch has a screw-down crown and caseback, giving the Sector Field a water resistance of 100 metres or 300 feet. That’s a good rating for a field watch, and means you could happily swim, canoe or kayak with this on your wrist and not worry about water ingress or damage.
Unusually, it comes on a sturdy steel bracelet. The H-Links have a blasted finish and screw links which make it easy to adjust, while the button release clasp has a mix of blasted and polished surfaces, with three micro-adjustments for a decent fit. It’s attached to the watch head via quick release springbars that fit into drilled lugs. That makes it easy to swap out if you prefer a classic leather strap or a nylon NATO, which might be more fitting for a field watch. Changing the strap would eliminate one slight drawback of the bracelet too, which is purely aesthetic – there’s a pronounced step at the end links, where the lugs meet the bracelet. It doesn’t affect functionality or comfort but looks a bit awkward. It’s a rare own goal in what is otherwise a very well executed watch design.
Depending on whether you opt for the date or no-date version of the watch, the Nodus Sector Field is powered by either a NH35 or NH38 automatic movement. It means that the no-date version doesn’t have a ‘ghost’ date position when you pull out the crown (a niggle we have with the otherwise excellent Nezumi Baleine automatic diver). Both the NH35 and 38 are 24-jewel, 21,600bph calibres built by Japanese watch giant Seiko. They are known for being reliable, relatively inexpensive to maintain and use Seiko’s proprietary Diashock protection system.
“It’s a brand that’s attracting an increasing amount of attention in the watch community.”
Both movements hack, which means the seconds hand stops when you pull the crown out for precise time setting. They can also be hand-wound, so you can use the crown to wind the mainspring in addition to charging it via natural hand movement, just like any other automatic watch. Lastly, they have a decent power reserve of up to 41 hours.
Nodus have taken things a step further here too. Rather than just taking off-the-shelf Seiko movements, sticking them straight in their watch cases and adding them to inventory, the brand takes the time to regulate every watch in four positions. This typically takes the accuracy from Seiko’s standard factory tolerances of between -20s and +40 seconds per day to within -10s/+10 seconds per day. That’s a level of attention to detail that you don’t get from most small watch brands – or even some larger ones.
This is a watch that has a lot more going on than most field watches, with an attention-grabbing dial, a nicely designed and executed case and a regulated automatic movement. The only element we’re not so keen on is the bracelet, but that’s largely down to personal preference. Since it has quick release springbars, you can swap it out in seconds anyway.
Overall, if you’re after a fresh and modern looking watch that still has all the practicality of a traditional field watch design, the Nodus Sector Field has much to recommend it. It’s unusual and distinctive too, from an independent US brand that is attracting an increasing amount of attention in the watch community.
The Nodus Sector Field costs $450, or around £330. Since it ships from the US, if you’re in the UK, you’ll need to add 20% to that cost in VAT, plus 2.5% in import fees, and probably a handling fee on top of that too.
Price: $450 / £330 / 316L premium grade stainless steel case / Screw down case back with unique serial number / Seiko NH35/NH38 automatic movement / 100m/10 ATM water resistance / Single dome sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating / Swiss Super Lumi-Nova: Premium grade BGW9 / Screw down, signed crown / Steel bracelet.