When Rolex introduced the Datejust in 1945, it was their first watch to feature an automatically changing date. This is a feature most of us take for granted now, but at the time it was a creature comfort greatly appreciated by Rolex consumers. The Datejust is one of Rolex’s oldest models still coming off the line today and for good reason (it isn’t the automatic date). The Datejust’s design is simple and elegant. Baton hands and markers adorn the dial and create a simple look that can fit almost any occasion. It was a sports watch before sports watches were a thing.
It is easy to see why many brands adopt baton hands and markers and use the Datejust as an inspiration for their own watches. The Datejust has stuck around so long for good reason. Halios used baton hands and markers and created one the most popular dive watches from any microbrand. The latest entry into the Datejust’s classic baton hands and marker set is the Traska Commuter. Traska is taking something classic and putting their own DNA into it. A Rolex Datejust costs well over 10 times what the Commuter costs but as you will see in this review, Traska has made a watch that does not feel 10 times cheaper.
On the Wrist
There are a few things you need to make a sports watch a great watch and number one is wearability. It needs to be comfortable for all-day wear regardless of the situation. Whether you are slipping it under the cuff of your dress shirt, going for a run in the park, or chasing after your kids, it cannot get in the way. This differs slightly from other tool watches such as dive watches, where their form may come second to function. With a watch like the Commuter, function follows form but not by much. They go hand-in-hand.
The Commuter is able to accomplish this because of its fantastic spec sheet. The watch comes in at 36.5mm wide, a 44mm lug-to-lug, and 10mm thick. I can hear those with larger wrists screaming at this review that this is too small. This may be the case for those with Hulk-sized wrists but I’d wager that for the majority of people, this watch is going to look just right. I often feel that 36mm watches look a bit small on my own wrist, but the dial proportions make the Commuter feel a little larger than it is. If you are fine with 38-40mm watches (with or without bezels), the Commuter should fit you just fine.
One great thing about 36mm watches is the look afforded to the wearer. More of the bracelet is visible on the wearer’s wrist and gives the watch a cleaner look. It is part of the reason that lug-to-lug is more important than case width. The Seiko SKX is a prime example of how a short lug-to-lug can make a watch look great on the wrist.
One of the benefits of using baton hands and markers on the Commuter is that they are about as legible as a watch can get outside of digital watches. There is nothing obstructing the view of the markers which makes it easy to read the time at a quick glance. The only issue you may run into is that the polished hands can disappear into the white dial sometimes, but I didn’t find this to be a pervasive problem. The other dial colors (black and green) would not have this effect at all.
Traska Commuter Video Review
As stated in the beginning of the review, the Commuter’s dial is clean, simple, and elegant. Traska has executed the classic baton marker and handset look perfectly. There are ways to bungle this look by making the hands and makers too narrow, wide, long, or short. The proportions are all spot-on. The hour hand falls just short of the markers and the minute hand extends just beyond them. It ensures the hands are easily identifiable and finishes off the clean look.
The handset used is more than just simple batons. The hands are multi-faceted and angle down slightly on each side. This gives the hands a little more definition than if they were flat.
Traska has also kept the dial looking stellar by minimizing the text. Traska’s name and logo are at 12 o’clock and Automatic is printed at 6 o’clock above the date window. I’ve been advocating for brands to ditch the paragraphs of text they often put on dials and keep it simple. The water resistance rating, name of the watch, and more is engraved on the caseback. That’s how it should be; we can read the brochure if we want to know more.
Case and Bracelet
Traska has always impressed with their case finishing. Although the case is a relatively simple design, the various places polished chamfers are placed elevates the case to a more luxurious level. The polished chamfer that runs the length of the case is interrupted by the chamfer on the bottom of the bezel. Although it separates the two pieces of the case, it also joins them together to form a cohesive design.
As with all other Traska watches, the Commuter is treated with Traska’s proprietary hardness treatment that will ensure the case remains looking fresh. For the month or so I had the Commuter for review, it picked up absolutely 0 scratches, even on the clasp. I have noticed that this treatment does give the steel a slightly darker appearance. It isn’t as different as titanium, but it is noticeable if placed next to another watch without this treatment.
The crown is a suitable size for the Commuter and provides ample grip despite the polishing on the knurling.
Fully articulating links are finding their way onto more watches as brands realize the added comfort they provide. The bracelet on the Commuter features fully articulating links and a 20mm-to-16mm taper. I can’t think of a more comfortable combination when it comes to bracelet comfort.
Traska has also used female endlinks on the Commuter, which is a welcome departure from some other Datejust-inspired watches. This further enhances the comfort of the Commuter as it allows the bracelet to fall right off at the end of the lugs and drape around the wrist.
Nodus Sector Sport
The Nodus Sector series aims to bring a watch of every style to an affordable price point. The Sector Sport is the veteran microbrand’s take on the classic sports watch. Nodus opted to include numerals on the dial which modernizes the layout. The Sector case is chunkier than that of the Commuter’s but is still comfortable on the wrist.
One the most iconic entries into this segment is the Seiko SARB033/035. This watch is one of Seiko’s greatest models and was a bargain before they were discontinued. I opted to keep it on this list because they are still available new, but they are becoming harder to find
Astor + Banks Fortitude
The Fortitude is my favorite watch from Astor + Banks. It brought everything from the Sea Ranger into a smaller package that was even more versatile. The Fortitude has a modern take on baton hands and markers which helps it stand out from the crowd. While it is close in dimensions to the Commuter, it does wear a little bit taller on the wrist.
There is no denying that the Commuter is inspired by the Rolex Datejust or Oyster Perpetual. There are many brands trying to do the same, but the Commuter is the only watch I can think of that has received fanfare. Traska is certainly a darling microbrand and all their watches become immediate hits. If Traska had made the Commuter their inaugural release, I may have leveled more criticism at them but given their aptitude to create original designs, I can’t fault them here.
If you’re looking for a simple sports watch that can be dressed up or down easily and can hold its own while commuting (pun intended) from the office to the pool, the Commuter is a solid bet. Traska puts together solid watches with excellent finishing and of the 3 watches I’ve reviewed (2 of which I owned) from them, I’ve never had a single issue.
Many people reading this review might have a hard time dropping 7 to 10 thousand dollars or more on a Rolex Datejust but want that look. Replicas are never the way to go, so a watch that gives you that look while still having its own soul is the best alternative.
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Traska Commuter Specs