Traska made a splash in late 2018 when they debuted with the Freediver. Offering a dive watch with great specs, a novel design, and a proprietary coating to resist scratches, it was a watch that you hadn’t seen from a freshman microbrand before. The watch sold out quickly and for good reason. I had a chance to spend some time with the original Freediver and it was everything it was cracked up to be.
Earlier this year, the Traska Freediver relaunched with a few minor updates that gave the watch new life. Fans of the Freediver are sure to be able to spot them right away, but I’ll cover them in detail during my review. Whether this is your first time looking at the Freediver or you are a seasoned fan of the brand, this is a watch you will want to give a second look.
On the Wrist
Whether you will be taking your dive watch to depth in the water or using it as your daily desk diver, there are a few things you’re going to want from your watch. Comfort and readability are the two that always come to the top of my list. The Freediver can accomplish these two tasks easily.
While there is nothing extraordinary about the dimensions of the Freediver, the case design is able to take these dimensions and make it feel just right on the wrist. Coming in at 40mm wide, 12.5mm thick and 48mm lug-to-lug, the Freediver looks like a watch meant to fit all-comers. When I first checked the lug-to-lug of the Freediver before putting it on my wrist, I was worried the lugs might seem too long compared to the rest of the case. However, this was not the case (more on this later).
The original Freediver had leaf-shaped hands, which didn’t quite fit with the rest of the dial design. Traska has updated the hands to tapered batons, which pair in a much more pleasing fashion with the applied markers.
Overall, the Traska Freediver looks great on the wrist. It has contemporary dive watch styling that doesn’t feel derivative. It has just enough flash to allow it to dress up with a leather strap. Regardless of what strap you decide to put on it, the Freediver is going to look great.
I enjoyed wearing this watch day-to-day. From giving my daughter a bath to doing yardwork outside, it was comfortable all day and thanks to the case coating that I will discuss later, I didn’t worry about destroying the exterior appearance of the Freediver.
Traska Freediver In Motion
The matte black dial of the Freediver creates great contrast with the polished applied markers on the dial. They pop off the dial beautifully and are wide enough to maintain readability. All the markers are tapered, but some of them have a subtle geometric flair to them. The markers at the cardinal positions are all different to aid in orientation with the 3 and 9 markers being the same. The markers are a great variation on simple rectangle markers seen on watches like the Halios Seaforth or Rolex Oyster Perpetual.
The rest of the dial is kept simple and clean. Traska’s branding is at 12 with Automatic printed under it. If it were up to me, I would have removed that text to keep the branding even more clean. Freediver and the watch’s depth rating are printed at 6 above the date window.
As I mentioned before, the hand set has been updated from the original Freediver and I am a fan of the change. Another update is the lumed bezel insert. The ceramic bezel pairs perfectly with the polish on the markers and helps create a classy look on the face of the entire watch. The bezel action is also fantastic. Each of the 120 clicks feels solid and there wasn’t any backplay on my review sample.
Case & Bracelet
For a watch that appears simple on the surface, the case of the Freediver has quite a bit going on upon further inspection. Previously, I talked about my concern about the lug-to-lug dimension being too long but this is mitigated by the lug design. Traska has implemented a polished chamfer on the inside of the lugs à la the lugs of Monta fame. This helps thin out the lugs so they don’t appear too chunky.
The lugs also have a gentle downturn that helps the watch conform to the wrist slightly. While the watch certainly is not uncomfortable in any way for my wrist, some may find that the watch sits a little flat on top of the wrist.
Traska’s signed crown is a nice size and I found it easy to unscrew and wind the watch. The knurling on the crown matches perfectly with the coin edge bezel, creating a seamless look.
Part of Traska’s party trick with the Freediver is the coating they apply to the case and bracelet to make it more scratch resistant. This is different than a traditional metal hardening process and according to Traska makes the watch 6 times more scratch resistant than standard 316L stainless steel.
I’m not at liberty to run the review sample over some bricks to see how this holds up, but in everyday life wearing the watch I did not accumulate any scratches on the case including the clasp. I did notice that the exterior surfaces seem to be a touch darker than other stainless steel watches, looking like titanium at times. It isn’t dark per se but does create a different look.
The bracelet on the Freediver didn’t blow me away like the one did on the Traska Summiteer (review here). However, it isn’t bad by any stretch. It is a solid Oyster-style bracelet fitted with a diver’s clasp and has plenty of microadjustments to ensure a good fit. While it isn’t going to compete with bracelets on $1000+ dive watches, it holds its own very well.
I’m a fan of brands revisiting some of their older watches, especially inaugural releases, to see if any updates can be applied from things they have learned over the years. While it is possible for some customers who bought in initially to feel burned by these updates, some brands such as Traska & Nodus are executing it well. A few small design changes don’t overtly change the watch but just create a new dynamic to possibly push those on the fence over to buying.
The microbrand world is filled with sub-$500 watches, but it doesn’t have a lot of great sub-$500 watches. The Traska Freediver is the latter. Coming in at $400 it is difficult to argue that this watch isn’t a great value. A reliable Seiko NH35 movement combined with a solid bracelet and the proprietary coating on the exterior surfaces create a compelling value proposition. In a world where Seiko SKXs are becoming harder to recommend at their price point, watches like the Freediver are aiming to take their place.
Check out more Traska reviews from The Watch Clicker
Check out the Traska website
|Lug-to-lug Height||48mm||Lug Width||20mm|
|Water Resistance||200 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova® BGW9|