Note: I recently transitioned from Squarespace to WordPress because of a bug in the Squarespace system that resulted in the loss of some of my reviews. This review was one of them, however I have put down some of my thoughts on this watch once again.
Disclaimer: This review is in no way influenced or incentivized by Traska. I purchased this watch at full price from their website and all opinions here are my own. I was not paid in any way to produce this review.
From an overall design perspective, it is easy to disregard the Traska Freediver as “just another derivative diver” watch, and it is alright if you did because what makes this watch unique are very subtle enhancements to what is arguably an already satisfactory case and dial design.
My favorite aspect of the case design is the curved sides that abruptly transition to straight lugs. The diameter is matched to perfectly complement the bezel, and the lugs don’t extend out of the case too much, making it a very compact watch overall suitable for small and medium sized wrists alike. The watch measures 48mm from lug-to-lug and 40mm in diameter. The bezel is comfortable to grip and feels like quality.
Strap junkies can rejoice knowing that this case has drilled through lugs, allowing for quick and easy strap change. But an additional luxury is Traska’s “proprietary scratch-resistant coating”, which just sounded like a bunch of marketing BS to me. But I can assure you that they weren’t making this stuff up, I tried to scratch it and failed. It is definitely less susceptible to getting scratched compared to your standard 316L steel case. Great job on this Traska, I’m a fan.
This particular dial is undeniably unique. A mint-green dial watch is not something I would typically consider buying (it is quite a cheerful color, and I’m not a typically cheerful person) but this dial has become somewhat synonymous of the brand of late. WEI (Watch Enthusiasts India) overlord Karan Madan got one of these a while ago and spoke very highly of the dial and I had to get one for myself. I think the combination of mint-green, black (hands, hour markers) and white (lume material) is beautiful. It is an aesthetically pleasing color palette and is very easy to read. With a stainless steel bezel, this entire module is wrapped in an elegant stainless steel silver, balancing out the somewhat flashy mint-green dial.
Those particularly picky about their watches might’ve already noticed the slightly mismatched hands and hour markers. The indices are hand applied and filled with BGW9 super luminova and one would expect the same material to be filled in the hands as well but this does not appear to be so. As you will see later on, the actual illuminated lume matches up perfectly so this might just be a matter of slightly different materials.
Personally, the mismatched lume doesn’t bother me at all. I’m more particular about finishing on my dials. I’m tired of taking a macro lens or loupe to a watch only to see stray dust particles or very poor paint jobs. I’m very pleased to say that this watch has an exceptionally clean dial. You will also be pleased to hear that the chapter ring lines up very nicely with the dial markers and so does the bezel, both clear indicators that Traska and their overseas manufacturers are doing something right in the QC department.
Another personal preference – I would’ve liked for the lumed marker on the bezel at 12 o’clock to have been aesthetically matched to the rest of the watch, opting for something sharper like a triangle instead of a big blob of lume. This does look great in the dark though. Both the hands and hour indices have a distinct design language, reminding me of Gothic pointed arches and something similar on the bezel would have connected the two components better.
If you’re considering purchasing the Freediver and have read about the recent glitches in the Summiteer’s bracelet (a few instances where link screws have gotten jammed – click here to read), you don’t have to worry about this issue with the Freediver. I was able to adjust the strap in under 5 minutes with ease (and a screw driver) and I’ve heard the same from other Freediver owners as well. A note to be made here is that the screws are a bit easy to unscrew and I would personally recommend using loctitte on them after finding your perfect fit. Rolex do the same to their bracelets and it is common practice these days to ensure that you don’t have an accident.
The bracelet is decent and more than satisfactory for the price. It comes with the same magical coating as the case and is more resistant to scratches than regular 316L steel. The links are very similar in style to the Rolex Oyster bracelet. The end links meet the case perfectly with no visible gaps or machining errors (this is a huge pet peeve of mine, I cannot stand when brands mess this up). The clasp is very good for a $375 watch and comes with 6 micro-adjustment slots spreading over 16mm. There is a Traska logo and brand name stamped on the clasp, which gives it the appearance of a watch that could be significantly more expensive. Having recently owned and reviewed the Helson Sharkmaster, I still think their clasp is one of the best I’ve experienced on a micro-brand so far, albeit being a monster in terms of size and weight.
Under the clasp is a slightly out of place but warmly welcomed perlage finishing which is very cool to see on a watch in this price tier. Traska wants to give you a quality experience and it appears that they are doing their best to give you just that.
On The Wrist
The Freediver is comfortable on the wrist and should be suitable for small and medium sized wrists alike. The 48mm lug-to-lug width is perfect for my 6.25″ wrist, the 12.5mm height allows it to sit close to wrist. The overall wrist presence is excellent and I would’ve had a perfect experience wearing this watch if not for the occasional hair extraction courtesy of the metal bracelet.
I logged the accuracy of the watch over a 3 day period and observed -21.3 spd on average. I think other brands have been able to successfully regulate the Seiko NH35 to tighter tolerances, and this is definitely an avenue for further improvement, but -21.3 spd is still within NH35 spec.
A few things that I did not like about the experience:
- The watch shipped to me directly from the manufacturer (I think?) in China. I don’t personally mind a watch that is manufactured in China, but for a brand that claims to be “an independent American watch brand”, I would have expected for at least Quality Control to happen in the United States. That said, this watch had no QC issues that I could find, so maybe they’re just that confident?
- The watch was shipped in an unpadded plastic envelope and the only thing protecting the watch was the leather carrying case and outerbox. This is extremely risky and should not have occurred.
Apart from the two minor hiccups mentioned above, I still think that this is one of the best automatic watches available in the sub-$400 category. I will be selling mine to fund the next watch to review for this website, but I’m most likely going to circle back around and buy a Freediver for my permanent collection in a few months. These are great watches, and if you’re considering adding one to your collection, I definitely recommend it.