Raven has been creating some of the most well-built watches in the microbrand world for years. Their watches are almost borderline overbuilt, if there is such a thing. Watches such as the Solitude (review here) which combine wearability with functionality to the purpose-built Deep Tech diver round out their catalogue of excellent tool watches.
The Raven Trekker 39 is an update to one of their most popular watches, the original Trekker. There are many changes which make the Trekker 39 a more attractive offering, which will be discussed in this review. That isn’t to say the original Trekker was a bad watch by any means; simply that the Trekker 39 is a refined look at the overall package. Let’s dive in.
On the Wrist
When Raven revealed the specs for the Trekker, the fanfare was off the charts and for good reason. The original Trekker was 40mm wide, 50mm lug-to-lug and 13.5mm thick. While this isn’t huge by dive watch standards, the Trekker 39 brings all those dimensions down to sizes that make modern watch buyers get excited. The Trekker 39 comes in at 39mm wide, 47.5mm lug-to-lug, and 13mm including the crystal (11mm without the crystal’s height). These small adjustments can make a huge difference on the wrist. These changes don’t include other refinements Raven has made to make the case look even slimmer and wear smaller than it looks on paper.
The Trekker 39 features small undercuts on the sides of the case which greatly cut down on the slab-sided look watches without lots of polishing can have. It keeps the real estate taken up by the Trekker in check. The Trekker 39 reminds me of the Tudor Pelagos in a lot of ways and the undercut is something the former would benefit from greatly and slabby sides are something the Trekker 40mm suffered from. The Trekker 39 feels true to its stated case height without the crystal. It feels thin and svelte on the wrist.
Raven’s watches have always channeled some of the best elements from classic tool watches like those from Rolex and Tudor. Clean case lines and extremely tight tolerances can help complete the package of a well-designed watch. This is the case with the Trekker 39 and part of the reason I say it reminds me of the Pelagos. The lugs taper sharply as they extend toward the tips of the watch and although there isn’t a huge turndown in the lugs and the case can look a little flat, it does conform well to the wrist. It strikes a great balance between wrist presence and subtlety.
I should address the elephant in the room as I heard a lot of chatter about it and it has probably been noticed in the photos thus far — the crown. The crown sticks out from the case more than most wearers are used to. This was a design decision by Raven, and it has no effect on wrist comfort. The crown did not lodge itself into my wrist, even if I bent my wrist to extremes. The crown sticking out a little more provides a great benefit and that is grip. This is one of the easiest crowns to operate of any watch I’ve tried. Gaining purchase on the crown to screw, unscrew, wind, and set the time are satisfying and provide an excellent tactile feel. The design of this crown made me wonder if more brands should have their crowns sticking out a little more.
I normally cover the bezel of a watch in a later segment, but I wanted to discuss it here as the bezel on the Trekker 39 became an integral part of how I wore this watch. The bezel on this watch is the best 120 click bezel I’ve used. Full stop. The tension and grip are just right, and the clicks are so satisfying to listen to. They have a mechanical crispiness that is certainly lacking in other brands’ bezels. I would often time trivial things just to use the bezel.
Raven Trekker 39 Video Review
The Trekker 39 is offered in two dial variations. The version being reviewed here is true to the original Trekker and has an entirely printed dial with numerals at the cardinal positions. The other variant is an applied marker dial. No matter which version you choose, you’re going to be happy. I was lucky enough to get some experience with both dial variations and each one has its charms. I’ll be focusing on the printed dial variant moving forward, but if you want a little more flash, the applied dial is what you want.
The execution of the dial is a great mix between an Explorer-style dial and a classic dive watch dial. The numerals at the cardinal positions add some charm and apart from the pip at 12 o’clock, they look great matched with the numerals on the bezel. Also matching the bezel is the glossy dial. In extremely bright outdoor light, you can get some harsh reflections off the dial and bezel but in most situations, this isn’t distracting enough to cause any concern. However, it did make me wonder what a matte dial and bezel would look like with this design; they might dress down the watch a little.
The polished handset is a nice complement to the glossy dial. Baton hour and minute hands are paired with a rectangle-shovel seconds hand. This style of seconds hand is one of my favorites and I wish it were a little more ubiquitous in modern watches. It is a great balance between a lollipop and a stick hand.
When it comes to lume, there are a few microbrands who know how to pack their watches with lume. Raven is among those brands. The dial, bezel, and hands are filled with so much lume, it almost gives my Tudor Pelagos a run for its money,and that is saying something.
Case and Bracelet
As I mentioned above, the case does not feature a ton of polishing. The only polished areas on the case are the undercuts on the sides of the case. The brushing is well-executed and the consistency of brushing between the case and bracelet is flawless.
Speaking of the bracelet, it is wonderful. At its core, it is a Jubilee-style bracelet and while that may not be exciting on the surface, there are a few things working to its advantage. It is entirely brushed, which fits the overall aesthetic of the watch and cuts down on flashiness. The small center links of the bracelet are flat as opposed to slightly rounded like traditional Jubilee-style bracelets. This subtle change keeps the profile flat. Combine the wonderful articulation such a bracelet offers with the 20mm to 16mm taper and this bracelet is downright comfortable.
When the watch is off the bracelet, the comfort level remains. The 20mm lug width means it is middle-of-the-road for aftermarket straps and pairing straps should be no problem. The lug holes are set low and far away from the case so there is a bit of strap gap when using two-piece straps. However, any type of pass-through strap eliminates this.
Something that doesn’t get a lot of attention is how the watch sits on a wrist and how much it sinks into your wrist. When it comes to the Trekker 39, I found this measurement to be 11.5mm from the wrist to the top of the crystal–meaning that about 2mm of the overall case height is concealed by how the watch sinks into the wrist. While this measurement will differ slightly based on the anatomy of the wearer’s wrist, the margin for error should be low and as such, it serves as a better indicator than case height for how the watch will wear.
I don’t want to say it is hard to get me excited about new dive watches, but the space is starting to become crowded. The Trekker 39 is a refinement of a previously released watch from Raven, but the refinements make this look and feel like a new watch. Building on that, the refinements (especially with the applied marker dial) help the Trekker stand out. The styling of the dial, case design, and tight tolerances make me wonder why Raven is only charging $750 for this watch. Especially regarding the build quality, it is hard to beat at that price.
There are certain things that may turn someone away from the Trekker 39, like the way the crown extends from the case, but as with most watches, it needs to be tried on to get why it works. This is difficult with most microbrands and I’m hopeful events like Wind-Up will return soon where prospective buyers can get that opportunity. The Trekker 39 is one of those watches that begs to be worn. It strikes such a great balance between tool watch and everyday watch. If you’re on the fence, find a friend (or anyone) who has one because I almost guarantee you will walk away smiling and a wallet that is $750 lighter.
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Raven Trekker 39 Specs
Wrist to Crystal*
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal