A Week on the Wrist with the Nomadic Marai 401 – the ultimate £1,000 Rolex Submariner killer

If you're on the hunt for a wallet-friendly dive watch with real personality, look no further than the Nomadic Marai 401

The Nomadic Marai 401 in Emerald Abyss against an orange candle
(Image credit: Sam Cross)

When we consider what makes the best watch on the market, it's entirely likely that everyone will have a slightly different criteria. Some will value innovation. Others look towards value for money.

Having gotten hands on with hundreds of watches over the last few years, I find that it takes something with a degree of wow factor to stand out to me. Much of what I see gets lost among the noise, with only a few making a case for themselves.

The Nomadic Marai 401 certainly stood out. I first got my hands on one at the British Watchmaker's Day and was stunned with the overall quality. Now, having spent some time with it on the wrist, can it hold up? Let's take a look.

The Nomadic Marai 401 in Emerald Abyss against an orange candle

(Image credit: Sam Cross)

First things first, let's take a look at some specs. The Marai 401 is a dive watch with a 40mm case. That's crafted from 316L stainless steel, and sits just 11.5mm thick. That's a fairly standard set of measurements, which should be a great fit for almost every wrist.

The lug-to-lug width of 48mm helps to keep things svelte enough for a slim wrist, too. That's married to a three-link steel bracelet, with a micro adjustment in the clasp for finding a perfect size.

Of course – as a dive watch – this also packs in a good degree of water resistance. 200m is certainly not the most we've seen, but it's also more than enough for most people.

My review unit comes in the Emerald Abyss colour variant. That's a stunning design, with a rich green hue which embodies the Irish heritage of the brand.

The bezel is also a green colour, though it does appear darker than the dial. That might be due to the ceramic material, but it's worth bearing in mind if that sort of thing bugs you.

The Nomadic Marai 401 in Emerald Abyss against an orange candle

(Image credit: Sam Cross)

Inside, users will find a Sellita SW200-1 movement. That's a really great calibre, which has become something of a standard third-party movement for watches around the £1,000 mark. We see it on a lot of Christopher Ward watches, and it's absolutely stellar.

Notably, the Marai 401 is given one of the coolest rotors you'll find on any watch. A three-pronged rotor is made to look like the propellers of the boats in Belfast harbour. That's a copper coloured design, too, which is just beautiful.

What is the Nomadic Marai 401 like to wear?

On the wrist, the Marai 401 is simply a dream. Just as you'd expect, those dimensions make for a sumptuous experience, which is really at home for a variety of different wrists.

There's a really reassuring weightiness to the design here. It stops short of being heavy, but you'll certainly feel it as you wear it. That's something I didn't notice with the Nomadic Turas 914, but it lends a classy edge to this piece.

The Nomadic Marai 401 in Emerald Abyss against an orange candle

(Image credit: Sam Cross)

The green hue is really interesting here, too. It's subtle, looking black in a lot of different lights. In fact, when shooting the watch for this review, I found I could move from a deep charcoal to beautiful forest green by simply flashing light across it.

Let's also talk about the micro adjustment in the clasp. That's a really handy feature to have, and makes it possible to get the perfect fit for you. It's also handy in changing weather conditions, where your wrist may swell or contract. You can quickly make an adjustment, ensuring you remain as comfortable as possible.

The bracelet is also a little more unique in terms of design. Where other three-link bracelets round the front edge of their links, Nomadic leave them flatter. The result is a bracelet which almost looks flat as it's worn, with a hard corner between links. Whether you like it or not, that's a cool design edge.

That's really the theme of this piece. Glance at it and you'd probably mistake it for one of the thousands of Rolex Submariner lookalikes out there. Once you look deeper, though, you'll find a wide range of details which stand out and give the Marai its own personality.

The Nomadic Marai 401 in Emerald Abyss against an orange candle

(Image credit: Sam Cross)

Is the Nomadic Marai 401 worth the money?

At right around the £1,000 mark, the Nomadic Marai 401 enters a hotly contested part of the market. We've already mentioned Christopher Ward, who have models like the C60 Atoll 300 ready to take your cash.

There are even models like the Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman and the Certina DS Action Diver for those hunting for a diver from a brand with deeper heritage. For my money, though, the Nomadic Marai 401 is up there with the best. 

I'd wager that it's the best value for money pick in this group right now. There's just enough personality to be interesting, without being so wacky that you alienate potential users. If I was the one making the purchase, my hard earned cash would end up in the cash register of the Belfast brand.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.