The vast majority of watch collaborations that exist typically consist of one company teaming up with some entity outside of the watch industry. We much less frequently see two different watch brands join forces to create a timepiece that blends their two worlds. Aside from the collaborations between two brands within the same parent company (such as those from Swatch Group), you typically only see these types of collaborations from small-scale independent brands, although the results are almost always more exciting than when one company simply produces a thematic version of one of its own watches. For its latest release of 2024, Nodus has teamed up with fellow American independent brand Raven to create a rugged and highly capable travel watch that truly feels like an equal mix between both companies’ respective identities.

Nodus is based in my home state of California, while Raven’s headquarters are in Kansas. The new Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker is inspired by the journeys that took place between these two locations, back in the days of covered wagons and the westward expansion movement. With that in mind, rather than being a vintage-inspired piece, the new Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker is inherently modern in its design and execution. This design is specifically created for rugged travel, and its color palette is derived from the landscapes that reside throughout the continental United States. Technically speaking, the Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker is a GMT watch, although it is far more in-line with a land adventurer’s watch like the Rolex Explorer II than anything related to the elevated worlds of international business trips and aviation.

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Crafted entirely from surgical grade 316L stainless steel with a matte gray DLC finish, the case of the Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker measures 39.5mm in diameter by 11.8mm thick, with 20mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug profile of 46.6mm. About a millimeter of that total thickness consists of the box-shaped sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective treatment on its underside surface), and surrounding the crystal is a fixed 24-hour bezel finished with a sandy olive green Cerakote ceramic coating and engraved numerals filled with black lacquer. Sitting between two guards at 3 o’clock is a signed screw-down crown with a matte black DLC finish. On the reverse side, the watch is fitted with a solid screw-down caseback adorned with a covered wagon engraving, which helps ensure the 200 meters of water resistance that is offered by the model.

While the case profile of the new Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker is derived from Nodus’s upcoming Contrail GMT series, the dial very much offers Raven’s distinctly utilitarian design language, and it is finished with the same sandy olive green Cerakote ceramic coating that is used for the bezel. Applied hour markers in the form of geometric shapes offer a clear orientation of the time, and a trapezoid-shaped date window sits at the 6 o’clock location to create a highly symmetrical and cohesive overall appearance. Despite being a collaboration piece, dial text is kept to a minimum, with the Nodus logo and “TrailTrekker” name appearing on the upper half, while Raven’s logo appears below the hands. All of the printing is done in black to maintain the watch’s dark and rugged overall appearance.

Since the minute track is printed on the surface of the dial and the 24-hour scale appears on the bezel, the angled chapter ring surrounding the dial is finished in a split-color manner with black and olive green to help offer an approximation of daylight versus dark hours. At the center of the dial are four angular hands. While the trio dedicated to the local time are brushed with a dark gunmetal finish, the GMT hand is finished in a muted shade of orange to offer a subtle splash of color and to help create at-a-glance legibility. Both Nodus and Raven tend to take their lume rather seriously, and while the 24-hour scale on the bezel isn’t luminous, all four of the hands and each of the applied indexes is filled with Grade A Swiss Super-LumiNova BGW9 to provide the TrailTrekker with a bright blue glowing display in the dark.

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Powering the Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker is the Miyota Cal. 9075 automatic GMT movement, which runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 42 hours. As it is currently the most affordable third-party movement that offers true flyer-style GMT functionality with an independently adjustable local hour hand, the Miyota 9075 is quickly becoming the go-to option for small-scale brands that want to make a budget-friendly GMT watch. Although you can now find this movement inside a wide variety of watches at comparable price points, the Cal. 9075 movements that are used inside the TrailTrekker are regulated to -8/+8 seconds per day. This is a noticeable improvement compared to the -10/+30 seconds per day of timekeeping variance that Miyota promises for its off-the-shelf calibers.

Fitted to the drilled lugs of the Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker is a flat-link stainless steel bracelet that has been given a matte gray DLC finish to match the case of the watch. The bracelet links taper from 20mm at the case down to 16mm where they connect to the clasp, and the links themselves offer a relatively thin design in order to maintain a low profile on the wrist. In terms of specs, the bracelet checks all of the major boxes for what most people want these days, It features completely solid links with single-sided screws, quick-release spring bars at the lugs, and a clasp that operates with a double push-button release and includes Nodus’s proprietary NodeX extension system that offers five positions of incremental adjustment.

Despite slotting into the end-links, the first center links of the TrailTrekker’s bracelet do not fully articulate, and this means that they extend past the tips of the lugs to create an overall profile of approximately 52mm. That said, since the center links angle downward, a significant portion of that additional length ends up being wrapped around the wrist. That said, the Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker does wear slightly larger than its on-paper dimensions when fitted with its matching stainless steel bracelet. Additionally, for those who prefer to wear their watches on straps, the TrailTrekker comes packaged with an additional pass-through-style strap that is made from olive green ballistic nylon and completed by chunky black-finished hardware.

On the wrist, the new Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker offers a somewhat similar overall presence to something like a five-digit Rolex Explorer II (which is ultimately very much a good thing), and its slight resemblance to the Explorer II is further reinforced by the font chosen for the bezel and its use of orange for its GMT hand. With that in mind, this is largely where the similarities between the two watches end, and the dial layout of the TrailTrekker combined with its dark gray DLC finish and flat-link bracelet ultimately create an overall package that is very much its own timepiece. Additionally, while the Cerakote ceramic coating on the bezel doesn’t completely match the case, the subtle difference in color actually works quite well in this particular instance, since the dial is finished with the same sandy olive green Cerakote ceramic coating that appears on the bezel.

Field watches are often the de facto style of timepiece when it comes to land exploration activities. However, I’ve always wished that brands leaned more into the concept of the land-based tool watch, in much the same way that the industry offers an impossibly wide assortment of different purpose-built divers. That said, the new Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker is exactly that type of timepiece, and rather than being built for some arcane profession or adventure sport, it is simply a rugged timepiece that is designed for travel and surviving a wide variety of different outdoor activities. Additionally, with an official retail price of $875 USD, the Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker is priced right in line with other watches that use this popular GMT movement. It ultimately feels like quite a strong offering in this space when you consider its numerous well-conceived details, along with its extensive use of Cerakote and DLC-finished components. For more information on the Nodus x Raven TrailTrekker, please visit the brand’s website.

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