Nomadic Goes From Strength to Strength with the New Turas 914
What a difference two years makes!
Regular visitors here may well remember us talking about young start-up brand, Nomadic, based out of Belfast in Northern Ireland. I was able to meet up with founder and CEO Peter McAuley in November of 2021 to talk about his first creation, the Maraí 401, a wonderful, vintage-inspired tool watch that drew heavily on the city’s engineering heritage.
Back then, the piece was still in its prototype stage and Peter was yet to give up his day job—appropriately enough as an engineer.
As it turns out, the Maraí has been an amazing success. Reviews across the board have lauded its build quality and robustness, as well as its charming aesthetic details chronicling Belfast’s maritime history. Sales have, in fact, been so strong that Nomadic was able to expand the range to include a total of five different colorways, and last year brought out a second version complete with date display. The company has blossomed into a thriving business with Peter at the helm and has moved into brand new dedicated premises.
Flash forward to last week and I was delighted to receive an invite to attend the launch event of Nomadic’s second model at their shiny new HQ, right in the heart of the city.
The Story Behind the Watch
Among his other talents, it turns out Peter is a master at building suspense.
Silhouetted teaser shots of his new watch started circulating long before the event, with the only details I could drag from him being the name, the Turas 914, and that it was to pay tribute to Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914.
Considered the last major expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, the voyage set out to make the first land crossing of the snowbound continent. Although it ultimately failed, with Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, becoming trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, it is now recognized as an epic feat of survival.
With the drifting ice crushing the ship and causing it to eventually sink, the 28-strong crew became stranded on the flow for months before they were forced to set to sea in lifeboats salvaged from the wreck and reached the uninhabited Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton and five others made the 800-mile open boat journey to South Georgia to arrange a rescue, guided only by a sextant and, appropriately, a watch. Incredibly, the entire complement of crew returned home alive.
It is that astonishing story which inspired the latest Nomadic watch. The name Turas means ‘Expedition’ in Irish Gaelic, in much the same way as the previous piece, the Maraí, was taken from the word for ‘Seafarer’, with the 914 a reference to the year Shackleton embarked on his expedition—1914.
The launch took place on the 28th September at the Scottish Provident Building, an imposing grand Italian Renaissance style edifice built in 1902, overlooking Belfast’s City Hall.
Nomadic occupies the first floor, where you will find not only a boutique retail space but also, in another example of just how far the brand has come, their master watchmaker.
Michael Rowan is the latest addition to the staff, a man born right in Belfast’s city center and with more than 50-years of experience, having started his apprenticeship in 1971. He is a major bonus to the operation as now, unlike with the first run of the Maraí, every Nomadic watch will be assembled by him on the premises. Michael gives a few of the guests present on the day a tour of the facilities as well as some fascinating tales of the city’s horological history.
Some images of The New Nomadic Turas 914 Event
The place is packed with watchophiles, all enjoying the craic; great music, gourmet canapes and, this being Northern Ireland, plenty of free booze (that may have been just me actually, now I think about it).
Out on the terrace, there is a large digital clock counting down to unveiling time, along with an intriguing pyramidal shape hidden beneath a black cloth. At the appointed hour, Peter gives a stirring address, documenting what motivated him to create the new piece, as well as a beautifully put together video presentation, before removing the cloth to show us all the watch fully encased, Endurance-like, in a huge block of ice. Except unlike Shackleton’s doomed ship, the Turas is still working perfectly.
The Turas 914
There was plenty of discussion among the crowd beforehand concerning just what this latest piece might be. Judging by the lack of additional case pushers on the disguised images we had all seen, a chronograph had been pretty much ruled out but many of us were half expecting a GMT, in keeping with Nomadic’s travel/adventure-based dogma.
The New Nomadic Turas 914
What we got instead was an elegant, 39mm ‘Expedition’ watch, in much the same spirit as Rolex’s release of the original Explorer to commemorate the first successful ascent of Everest—both models built to pay tribute to man’s battle against the planet’s most unforgiving environments.
The stainless steel piece comes with a fixed polished bezel and sharply chamfered lugs, and is powered by an automatic Sellita SW200-1, as with the Maraí, one of the most widely used and reliable third-party calibers on the market, beating at 28,800vph and with a 41-hour reserve. Unlike the Maraí however, turn the Turas over and you will be able to see the movement at work thanks to the sapphire case back. On the rotor, there is a haunting engraving of the men of the expedition hauling their famous lifeboat, the James Caird, across Antarctica’s frozen tundra, and inscribed around it is the Shackleton family motto, ‘Through Endurance We Conquer.’
The New Nomadic Turas 914
But most of the admiration on the night was reserved for the dials. There are two to choose from, in black (the ‘Black Ice’) and white (the ‘White Out’). Both have been created using hydroforming to give a deep and intriguing texture, reminiscent of Grand Seiko’s Snowflake dials, and are offset with large Arabic numerals at the cardinal points in Nomadic’s handsome proprietary font. Plain batons make up the rest of the indexes and they, along with the wide sword-shaped hands, are flooded with blue SuperLumiNova for superb legibility. And, to the relief of everyone, that signature bright yellow seconds hand, representing Belfast’s iconic Harland and Wolff dock cranes, has been carried over as well.
The steel bracelet has also gone through an upgrade. The three-link band, tapering from 20mm to 16mm, is now subtly polished and the clasp fitted with a MicroGlide adjustment system; another very welcome addition. The handy Quickset spring bars remain in place, making swapping and changing a simple operation.
Nomadic is another in a long line of Northern Ireland success stories, a small country that continues to punch well above its weight on the world stage. The Turas 914 represents a huge stride forward for a fresh, innovative brand and is a watch well worth your consideration.
Take a look on the Nomadic website, nomadicwatches.com, and you can reserve a limited edition, numbered example of the first 100 units before it goes on general sale in mid-November.