Exploring the world of watches on a budget

New Traska Freediver

When I first reviewed the prototype Traska Freediver last April, I loved it. So much so, that I pre-ordered a mint dial, steel bezel model for myself, and have made it a staple in my rotation. Given its relative newness and near perfection, I was surprised to learn that a revised version was on the way. I got the chance to play with the whole set of new prototypes after the District Time Show, and came away impressed. It takes a sharp eye to appreciate the changes, but they add up to a much-improved watch. Traska announced it today, presumably to give you one more thing to be thankful for.

Traska Freediver, Version 2

I started my evaluation with a game of “spot the difference,” with my old Freediver in one hand and the revised model in the other. The 40mm cases share the same style, water resistance is improved from 100m to 200m (I could read that much off of the dial), and the hands and markers are sharper. Gone are the original leaf hands in favor of tight, tapered shapes with squared ends that better match the secondary markers while the primary markers have had their tips flattened. Otherwise, the watches are remarkably similar, right?

Wrong. I had utterly failed the test.

Traska Freediver, Version 1 back, Version 2 front

While I got the handset and marker shape changes right, I did not notice that the secondary markers are larger (12.5% to be precise). I have to say, as much as I liked the original dial, I prefer the new one. The difference in the markers is subtle, but it fills out the design just enough, and the revised, sportier handset is more in keeping with the Freediver’s tool watch mission. I love the way the hour hand matches up nose-to-nose with the markers.

Traska Freediver, Version 2, green

Now the really exciting stuff is in the case. As I said, it looks nearly identical to the casual viewer, but it has been completely re-engineered to gain increased water resistance without increasing the thickness beyond the original 12.5mm. With some sharp pencils, black coffee, and long nights (and maybe some slide rules, I am totally making this up) Traska’s team managed to shave enough out of the core to retain the tried and true Seiko NH35 automatic and fit the necessary gaskets to double the Freediver’s utility. The case looks the same head-on, but a keen observer will notice a thicker mid case. Also, the lugs drop down just a touch more, and the cutaway is less pronounced in order to make the watch sit closer to your wrist, so it feels thinner than it is.

Traska Freediver, Version 2, side

There were four watches in the box, a sampling of the color combinations available. Buyers have a choice of green, black, blue, or gray dials (now with or without a 6 o’clock date window) and steel or black bezel inserts. The proportion between the dial and bezel has changed, shrinking the insert a touch while allowing the dial to grow, a change more noticeable on the black bezel versions. Traska switched from a sapphire insert to ceramic for increased durability without losing the glossy finish. The pip surround is now polished to match the crown, bezel edge, and the chamfers down the case sides, dressing up the watch that much more.

Traska Freediver, Version 2, blue

Of course, the BGW9 SuperLuminova remains as does the sapphire crystal. Why mess with perfection?

Traska Freediver, Version 2, lume

The bracelet didn’t get away without an upgrade. Its clasp now has polished chamfered to match those on the case. A small detail, yes, but one that goes far to make all the components part of an even more cohesive whole. One part did carry over without change: the end links. Slackers.

Traska Freediver, Version 2, clasp

Nothing in life is free, except, it seems, the Freediver redesign. The price is the same as before: $375 for a stainless insert and $400 for ceramic. This includes the bracelet and Traska’s anti-scratch coating on the case and bracelet. This is kind of crazy, but I’m not complaining. It is one heck of a deal. If you haven’t tried a Traska, I highly recommend that you do. If you already have one, then maybe circle back for a different color combination as you will get an all-new watch in the bargain.

For more information or to order your own, visit traskawatch.com. ⬩

Traska Freediver, Version 2, green

Traska Freediver, Version 2

Traska Freediver, Version 2, gray

Traska Freediver, Version 2, green

Traska Freediver, Version 2, case back

Traska Freediver, Version 2, black

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