For way too long now, I’ve been lusting after a watch with H3 tritium
vials. I’ve always been a sucker for things that
glow in the dark (my first watch was the original Timex Indiglo, after
all), and luminescence is a big part of why I collect dive watches. A friend of mine recently bought a Ball Fireman, and after being completely mesmerized by the little glowing
glass tubes inside, I decided it was time to get serious about tritium.
I looked at everything from Ball to Luminox, however my curiosity was particularly piqued by Traser H3 Watches. Traser is owned by mb-microtec, the company that actually holds
the patent for tritium H3 illumination technology.
They have an entire lineup of watches that include divers,
chronographs, and military watches. Buried deep in their web site I
found the Traser Classic series: plain and simple stainless steel watches
that house the fantastic ETA 2824 movement — the same movement found in my
Bathys 100 Fathom and my Tissot Seastar 1000.
Automatic is the only automatic model in Traser’s lineup, and it comes in
- Stainless steel with a white dial.
- Stainless steel with a black dial.
- PVD with a black dial.
- PVD with a black dial and blue
Coincidentally, my collection needed a white dialed watch, so the decision was easy.
The watch came packaged in a very cheap and flimsy box that was marked
“Traser H3”. Normally I would deduct some serious points for inferior packaging, but for what I paid, I was willing to look the other way. Inside, I was pleased to find a great looking,
simple, and well manufactured watch on a 22mm
solid steel bracelet with SELs (solid end links, which my $500
Tissot Seastar 1000 doesn’t even have). The Classic is 40mm wide and fits my medium
sized wrist very well. The crown engages with a mechanical smoothness
very similar to my Bathys, and can also be used to quick-set the date.
This is not a divers watch so the crown does not screw down, but the
case back does, and Traser claims 100 meters (330 feet) of water resistance.
The watch has a simple printed dial that is easy to read, and the
chapter ring houses twelve tritium tubes as low-light hour markers. The case is simple yet robust, and because of
the increased thickness of the tritium hands, the watch has an interesting depth to it. Topping it all off is a scratch-resistant synthetic sapphire crystal.
- Solid stainless steel bracelet with SELs.
- Stainless steel case.
- Sapphire crystal.
- ETA 2824 Swiss movement (same as the movement in my Bathys 100 Fathom and Tissot Seastar 1000).
- Bright tritium markers and hands.
All this for a very reasonable $350 USD. When I
ordered the watch, I was half expecting all kinds of trickery like a cheap
bracelet (nope), knock-off movement (nope), or dollar-store build quality (not at all). For $350 USD, you can order a
great watch with a Swiss automatic movement that is not refurbished
or grey-market in any way. The Traser Classic Automatic really stands out as
a unique and impressive deal on a Swiss automatic watch.
Visit the Traser web site for information about finding an authorized dealer.
By James Stacey.
This is an eye-opening review. I went looking for this timepiece after reading, but alas, the one I wanted (black PVD steel/black face/sapphire back) are discontinued. I think a numbered bezel that doesn’t rotate is kind of hokey, so I’m not all that bummed. I can still find a black face with leather band, and swap out the band later for a Traser $70 steel. Price is now $441 w/leather strap. No see-thru sapphire back. Or I can go all out and get the Automatic Master, but at around $800 it’s not a great deal. Hopefully though for that price, it IS a great watch.
I have had this watch for about 5 year. I love it. It is my daily watch. It is very easy to read at a glance with a bright white face. The oem bracelet is top quality with solid lug links. A real gem and a bargain. The movement is elaborated and keeps extremely good time.
Nice timekeeper. Too bad that the watch does not exist anymore.
I’ve had the PVD black face version of this watch for 17 years. It has been worn almost daily for most of that time. I had to repair the movement once about 10 years in. It keeps excellent time and the tritium is still strong. This was a great little watch that really punched above its weight.