Belfast is not high on the list of cities we associate with watches. But the capital of Northern Ireland plays a pivotal part in the story of the young Nomadic Watches. The brand’s name relates to the city’s famous shipbuilding industry. Additionally, Nomadic’s home base is visually integrated into the design of its watches. I was happy to learn more about Nomadic and, more specifically, its dive watch, the Maraí 401. I had a chance to go hands-on with the Crimson Dawn version of the retro-styled diver. It’s time to find out if watchmaking and Northern Ireland are a great match.

While watchmaking and Belfast don’t necessarily go hand in hand, the Northern Irish capital does have a long history of industrial craft and innovation, particularly in shipbuilding. One of Belfast’s iconic shipbuilding companies is Harland and Wolff. It is famous for building the legendary RMS Titanic, its 401st ship. The company also built the SS Nomadic, the Titanic‘s passenger tender that gave the watch brand its name. Additionally, the iconic Samson and Goliath cranes, landmarks in the Belfastian skyline, inspired the brand visually when it developed the Maraí 401.

Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn

The story of the Nomadic Maraí 401

The first generation of the Nomadic Maraí 401 came out in 2021. Every year since then, brand founder Peter McAuley has increasingly improved the watch. The name Maraí comes from the Irish word meaning “sea fare.” The number 401 refers to the Titanic, so the brand and model name connect directly to Belfast’s shipbuilding history.

Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn

Due to constant improvements, the Maraí 401 is a vintage-inspired dive watch that ticks all the right boxes regarding specs and materials. Additionally, the price is very affordable at €1,149, making this a tempting offer for people looking for an affordable daily wearer. I was intrigued by the watch as it seemed like it offered good value for money. However, the world of small watch brands is very competitive, so I was curious to learn more about the build quality and experience the aesthetic in person.

Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn

The look of the Nomadic Maraí 401

Let’s kick things off with the design of the Maraí 401. If you do some field research on the previous generations, you not only run into the old specs that you can compare to the new ones but also some articles comparing the series to Tudor’s Black Bay line. The Classic Black and Gold and Crimson Dawn models certainly have visual links to the Black Bay. However, the Emerald Abyss, Pitch Black, and Deep Ocean Blue versions are less visually reminiscent of the popular Black Bay line.

Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn dial close-up

I think the Maraí 401 series fits a broader dive-watch mold that we see a lot nowadays. Consequently, it is not an overly original design, but it feels very familiar and comfortable. Therefore, it is hard to ignore that the Maraí 401 will appeal to a large audience, especially considering that the familiar looks are paired with impressive specs. In all honesty, that is what made me curious after seeing the images.

An impressive set of specifications

Let’s take a look at the specs. The Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn’s 40mm stainless steel case measures 48mm long and 11.5mm thick with a 20mm spacing between the lugs. Those dimensions make it a watch that will fit various wrist sizes comfortably. The case profile is nice and slim, and the gently downward-flowing lugs end abruptly with a steep slope. This gives the case a good mix of classic overall shapes with some modern details. The almost fully brushed case also enhances the nice tool-watch look. The only polished parts are the chamfers of the case sides, the screw-down crown, and the sides of the bracelet links.

Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn dial close-up

The unidirectional stainless steel bezel features a burgundy ceramic insert, which features white numerals and a full set of hash marks. I love the burgundy color, and overall, it looks more retro than the flashy ceramic bezel inserts we often see. The bezel is combined with a matte black dial with vintage-inspired gilt-tone details. The gold-colored minute track, indices, and handset give the watch retro vibes. Additionally, the indices and the hour and minute hands are filled with vintage-style Super-LumiNova. Lastly, the seconds hand is yellow, referring to the large Samson and Goliath cranes in the harbor of Belfast.

The different design details of the Maraí 401

The combination of colors and vintage-inspired details does indeed give off Black Bay vibes. But let’s put that aside for a minute and focus on some details that stand out. Overall, the visual balance of the different elements feels very nice. The width and size of the bezel are spot on, and the flat sapphire crystal keeps the watch nice and slim at 11.5mm thick. I was less impressed by the design of the hands. The minute hand is a long pencil-style one, while the hour hand is a short baton-style hand that feels cut off.

Unfortunately, the hands feel a bit characterless, which is a missed opportunity. Especially in a watch with a familiar aesthetic, the handset is a key element in making a difference. Referring to Tudor again, the brand’s snowflake hands stand out immediately, setting it apart from its bigger brother. I feel that Nomadic could have done a better job of making sure the hands defined the character more. Additionally, the yellow seconds hand is a nice link to Belfast, but its bright yellow color clashes with the other vintage-inspired hands and indices. In a watch design, a link to the brand’s story is nice, but it should not interfere with the visual balance.

The Sellita SW200-1 with a custom rotor

Inside the 200m-water-resistant case, you will find the Sellita SW200-1 movement. This well-known automatic caliber operates at a 28,800vph frequency and has a 41-hour power reserve. Nomadic has paired the trusted movement with a custom copper-tone rotor, which is visible through the sapphire window of the display case back. The propellors of the SS Nomadic and RMS Titanic inspired the rotor design. It’s another nice, characterful hint to the brand’s Belfastian roots, and I appreciate that.

The Maraí 401 comes fitted with a three-row stainless steel bracelet. It has an Oyster-style design but with less curvy links, giving it a flatter feel overall. The bracelet feels to be of good quality and uses links fastened with screws. One thing to keep in mind is that Nomadic uses Loctite to keep the screws in place, so it’s good to be cautious when removing the screws and links. Additionally, the bracelet features a toolless micro-adjustment system in the clasp. The milled clasp also feels qualitative and comes with a push-button release.

Wearing the Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn

Translated to the wrist, the Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn wears like a charm. I love the watch’s size and its slim profile. Combined with the qualitative bracelet, it makes for a great daily watch. During my time it, I was seriously impressed by how easy it was to wear. Many modern-day divers from bigger brands are thicker, and once you get a somewhat slimmer dive watch, it is a breath of fresh air. The great thing is that people with various wrist sizes can enjoy the Maraí 401, so hats off to Nomadic for creating a watch that is a joy to wear.

Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn wrist shot

Regarding the design, my thoughts did not change compared to what I mentioned earlier. Overall, the design feels comfortable and is easy on the eyes. The combination of a matte black dial and a burgundy bezel is great. With the gilt-tone details, the watch is charmingly attractive too. However, the lack of originality also brings some mixed emotions. The original elements, such as the yellow seconds hand and the custom rotor, link nicely to the brand’s story. That said, I would have loved to see a handset with more character. That would spice up things visually and set the watch apart from its obvious visual inspirations.

Final thoughts on the Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn

With the Maraí 401, Nomadic Watches has created a series that greatly appeals to people looking for a familiar-style dive watch. If you are starting your watch journey and searching for an affordable watch with vintage charm, a reliable caliber, great build quality, and a comfortable wearing experience, the Maraí 401 could be a great pick.

Nomadic Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn lume shot

Now, I must say that great competition at this price point makes it tough for a brand like Nomadic to stand out. It is up against big brands, such as Mido, Certina, and Hamilton, several renowned smaller brands, including Baltic, Unimatic, Serica, and Yema, as well as a wide array of even smaller microbrands also trying to make it. But with a focus on its Belfastian roots, Nomadic has a different story to tell than many of its competitors. I have to credit the brand for that because it very well may be a story that resonates with people.

On top of that, Nomadic has created a great-quality product. What the watch lacks in originality it makes up for in build quality and comfort. So if you are into the looks of the Maraí 401, I think you should check it out. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the Maraí 401 Crimson Dawn and what it offers for its €1,149 price. In addition to the watch, you get a neat waxed canvas watch roll, a spring-bar tool, a mini screwdriver, and a pocket notebook. All in all, it’s a nice set that makes this Maraí 401 a good offering.

For more information, visit the official Nomadic Watches website. Let us know what you think of the Maraí 401 in the comments section.

Watch specifications

Maraí 401
Matte black with applied indices and gilt-tone details
Case Material
Stainless steel with ceramic bezel insert
Case Dimensions
40mm (diameter) × 48mm (lug-to-lug) × 11.5mm (thickness)
Domed sapphire with antireflective coating on underside
Case Back
Stainless steel with sapphire crystal, screw-in
Sellita SW200-1: automatic with manual winding, 28,800vph frequency, 41-hour power reserve, 26 jewels, custom propellor-shaped rotor
Water Resistance
Stainless steel three-row bracelet (20/16mm) with folding push-button clasp
Time (hours, minutes, seconds) and 60-minute dive bezel