Traska Freediver

On April 15, Traska will open pre-orders for their first watch. I discovered them on Instagram a couple of months ago, and as soon as I saw a photo of their mint green dialed Freediver, I knew this was one to watch. Recently, I had the opportunity to sample that very prototype and walked away extremely impressed by the level of detail in the design, the value it represents, and to be perfectly honest, by that hot Ocean Drive, Miami Beach dial.


The Freediver follows the welcome trend of the affordable, mid-sized automatic. Its stainless steel case measures 40mm wide, 48mm long, and 12.5mm thick - relatively compact dimensions that wears quite well on my 6.5” wrist. The Freediver’s double domed and anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal presents only the slightest bulge, so it does not add appreciably to its height. Both the crown and case back screw down, but water resistance is only 100m. While this is more than sufficient for most owners, and even most recreational divers, it falls short of the 200m rating boasted by many of its competitors.

Case finishing consists of a brushed barrel and lugs with a fine, polished chamfer on the upper edge that runs the length of the watch. Other polished details include the coin edge of the bezel, the signed crown, and the inside angle of the lugs. Taken together, they offer a dash of reflection that dresses up the otherwise businesslike case without drawing too much attention. That glint inside the lugs is a nice touch, highlighting the edge and making it appear deeper than it is.


So let’s talk about that face. Traska offers the Freediver with black or aqua green dials, lumed sapphire or engraved stainless bezels, and a triple black dial/bezel/case. I love a sapphire insert with fully lumed markers, but for this review, I requested the pale blue/green with a steel bezel because it is less common and so darn pretty. The finished product will have a 120-click, unidirectional bezel, but as the prototype's was fixed in place, I could not test it. Around the back, you will find a solid caseback decorated with a polished ring, blasted center, and polished spearfisher, reminiscent of the fellow who graced the casebacks of so many 1960’s divers. Traska coats the case and bracelet with a proprietary scratch resistant coating to increase hardness. I like the idea, but in my limited time with the watch, I can’t say whether it had an effect or not.


Traska blasts its dials for a matte finish, which allows the polished hands and markers to pop. It also imparts a touch of shimmer. This may seem odd, but its just the way the variance in the surface catches the light with a bright color applied. The result is almost metallic. Not enough to shine, but just enough to make you look twice. Traska's logo is clean and traditional, featuring a knotted figure and tall, lightweight, serif typeface. The dart markers are good and tall, adding a pleasing dimension. I applaud their choice of diamond cut feuille hands instead of the more common sword or pencil shapes as they are a touch dressier but give up nothing in legibility. Add that minty green color and you have a dial that is (with apologies to the late, great MCA) cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce. BGW9 on the hands, markers, and bezel pip maintains a bright glow well after dark.


The bracelet is a three-link design with solid end links that tapers from 20mm to an 18mm signed, flip-lock, push-button clasp. Both bracelet and clasp are brushed, but the clasp enjoys a bit of perlage on the inside. The links are screwed, and drilled lugs make replacement easy.

The movement is a Seiko NH38 automatic. It is nearly identical to the more familiar NH35, boasting the same specs (24 jewels, 21.6k bph, hacking seconds, hand winding, 40+ hour power reserve) but it has no date option. As regular readers may have surmised, I am a big fan of these Seikos. They are durable, accurate, easily serviced, and best of all, reasonably priced, which helps keep the Freediver’s price squarely in the budget range: $375 for a steel bezel, $400 for a sapphire bezel. Early bird pre-orders will most likely be lower.


Overall, the Traska Freediver is an excellent buy. It is a capable tool watch that has pleasing proportions and just the right accents to make it a handsome companion for your more civilized outings. Hardened stainless steel is a nice bonus, and not at all common in this price range. The aqua dial is a stunning choice, but a triple black with a glossy sapphire bezel would be mighty tempting too.

Kickstarter pre-orders start on April 17, 2018. For more information and announcements, go to TraskaWatch.com.
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