I’ll cut right to the chase: The Traska Commuter is a great little watch. It’s basic, but that’s the appeal. It’s basic done right.
The Commuter is a watch that falls into a category with many names. Sports watch. Dressy Tool watch. GADA, or Go Anywhere, Do Anything watch. The type of watch that is said can go from the beach to the boardroom. An everyday watch that is right at home in just about any situation.
Here is The Watch Profiler’s comprehensive review of the Traska Commuter.
A Classic Watch Size
As a 36mm watch, the Traska Commuter is a classic, dare I say perfect size for many wrists. This is the traditional size of the Rolex Datejust, after all, which has graced millions of wrists of all sizes since 1945.
And speaking of that famous watch brand, both critics and fans have compared the Traska Commuter to the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. But more on that later.
Of course, some think 36mm is too small. Perhaps they have really large wrists. Or perhaps they’ve become so accustomed to the large watch trend that they wouldn’t consider a watch of this size. But for everyone else, a watch with the size and proportions of the Commuter will wear extremely well.
Traska Commuter Color Options
The Traska Commuter comes in three dial options: Glacier White, Slate Black, or Woodland Green. I’d love to check out the green dial in person, but I do have the white and black versions in hand for this review.
Keeping with the style of the watch, the Commuter dial is very simple. Traska states that each dial variant has a sunburst finish. The effect seems most apparent on the Woodland Green dial, while the white and black often appear almost matte in person. The Glacier White can take on an off-white tint in a certain light. And the aptly named Slate Black can often appear a charcoal gray.
A Simple And Stylish Dial
Polished metallic baton indices filled with BGW9 Super LumiNova surround the dial, with double markers at 12 o’clock. Unfortunately, there is no marker at 6 o’clock. This is where you’ll find the date window, filling in for the missing marker. A polished metal window frames a white date wheel, helping it balance the wide 12:00 marker at the top of the dial.
I would prefer to see at least a partial applied marker below the date window at 6 o’clock. There appears to be room for one, and it would help anchor the date window to the bottom of the dial just a little more.
Around the edge of the dial is a printed minute track, with minimal white hashes for each minute and wider square dots at each marker. On the green dial, these square dots are orange, which adds a pop of color. It also helps the watch look notably similar to the now-discontinued green-dial 34mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual. But beyond that, the minute track is pretty basic.
There is very little else on the dial. Just the Traska logo printed below 12 and “AUTOMATIC” printed above the 6 o’clock position.
The sticks hands on the Traska Commuter are polished and faceted to catch the light, with a strip of lume down the center of each. They are wide enough to aid legibility and have some presence on the dial without being overly wide.
The Traska Commuter Case
The dimensions of the Traska Commuter make the watch such a universal fit. The case is 36.5mm wide, with a lug-to-lug- length of 44mm. The case itself is around 10mm thick, but the watch is 11.3mm thick overall, including the slightly domed box sapphire crystal. And the Commuter has a lug width of 20mm, making it easy to find strap options if you’d like to wear it on something other than the stock stainless steel bracelet.
For a relatively basic watch design, the finishing on the case is really quite impressive. The sides of the case curve outward slightly. This adds a hint of a cushion case feel to what would otherwise be a slab-sided watch. The finely brushed sides have a satin-smooth finish, as do the tops of the curved lugs. And there is a thin, polished chamfer along the edge where the sides and the top meet. This little extra detail provides a facet to catch the light and add some shine.
The Bezel and Lugs
A thin steel bezel surrounds the dial, brushed with the same satin finish as the sides and lugs. But around the lower edge, where the bezel meets the case, the surface is polished. This polished ring ties the bezel to the polished chamfers and adds more complexity to the look.
The nicely rounded lugs of the Traska Commuter curve downward slightly, which enhances the fit of the watch. And drilled lugs make strap changes easy. Some people will welcome that feature. Others may think that the holes detract from an otherwise elegant finish to the thin lugs.
The Crown and Caseback
The case back of the Traska Commuter is solid, so you won’t be able to see the movement inside. It’s just a simple, plain, circular brushed steel disk. There really isn’t anything to see here—unless you have it engraved. And there is plenty of room to do that.
And because the caseback is solid, instead of a glass display window, it’s thin enough to barely protrude from the back of the case. This helps reduce the overall watch thickness, which is a welcome trade-off.
The screw-down crown is well-proportioned: large enough to grip without being oversized. And the knurled edge adds to the grip-ability but isn’t coarse or rough. Traska did a good job with the finishing of the crown. They even signed it with their very cool logo, laser-etch into the circular brushed end. As a screw-down crown, it provides extra assurance if you want to take advantage of the Commuter’s 100M water resistance.
Screwing down the crown feels somewhat gritty, though. It’s not as buttery smooth as you’ll find on a more expensive watch. Or even on many watches in the same price range. The closest I can relate it to from my experience is an Orient—though the screw-down action on the Traska is a bit smoother. But at least there is no wobble, and it doesn’t feel cheap.
Made From Hardened Steel
One thing that distinguishes Traska from most other watch brands is the way it does steel. Traska makes its watches from 316L stainless steel, like the watches of nearly every other brand. But what sets Traska apart from most is the proprietary hardening treatment that it uses on its steel. So while typical 316L steel measures 200HV on the Vickers hardness scale, Traska watches measure nearly 6 times as much, with a rating of almost 1200HV.
What does that mean? It means that the Traska Commuter will resist marks and scratches a lot better than most other steel watches. It also makes the steel just a little darker than other steel. It’s not a huge contrast, but some people may notice the difference. Personally, I like the look.
And it seems to live up to the promise. In three months of regular wear, the Traska Commuter doesn’t have a single mark on it. Not one. Not even on the bracelet or clasp, which usually shows at least micro-scratches within a few days of wearing. That’s incredible. Honestly, every watch brand should treat their steel sports and tool watches with a hardening treatment like this.
The Sapphire Crystal
Protecting the dial of the Commuter is a sapphire box crystal, slightly domed. It’s clear that Traska designed the crystal and bezel to complement one another. The beveled edge of the crystal matches the angle of the beveled edge of the bezel. The smooth edge is nicely rounded, helping the watch slide easily under just about any cuff.
Anti-reflective coating on the inner surface of the sapphire aids the legibility of the dial. This, coupled with the curved outer edge of the box crystal, creates a blue glint along the outer edge of the crystal in the right light, at least on the black-dial Commuter.
The Stainless Steel Bracelet
Traska Commuter comes on a solid bracelet. It’s comfortable and well-matched to the size and style of the watch, tapering from 20mm at the lugs to 16mm at the clasp. The end-links are solid, as are the rest of the fully brushed, fully articulated links. A fully brushed bracelet is a huge plus for me. Along with the hardened steel, the satin texture will help reduce and hide the appearance of scratches rather than showing them off. The same can’t be said for a comparable watch like the Tissot Gentleman or much more expensive watches like the Rolex Datejust Oyster Bracelet or the bracelet on the Omega Aqua Terra. The polished center links on those bracelets are all scratch magnets by comparison.
There is some room for improvement, however. The first is the way the bracelet meets the end links. They fit snuggly into the lugs, which is great. But the end links seem to sit just a bit higher between the lugs than they need to—they could sit a little lower. The first female center link appears to be sunken into the end links, creating an odd little step-down in the center. If that first center link was a male link, or perhaps the end links didn’t sit as high between the lugs, it wouldn’t create that step-down effect.
The second thing I’d improve is the clasp. Again, it’s not a bad clasp. The inner arms are milled with a perlage finish. The brushed outer clasp is pressed but sturdy, with rounded polished chamfered edges, an engraved Traska logo, and four micro-adjustments to help get a perfect fit. It uses a dual push-button design, which works well, but it adds a little jangle to the bracelet. And the push-button action could be a little more smooth—sometimes it sticks a little and takes a bit of extra effort to open. More refinement to the clasp open and closing mechanism would go a long way.
And the bracelet links are fully articulating, which are likely meant to add comfort and flexibility. And I’m sure they do, but they also add to the jangly nature of the bracelet as a result.
The Miyota Movement
Keeping time in the Traska Commuter is a reliable and economical Miyota 9109. I’ll start with the positives here. First, the movement keeps excellent time; at least my copy does. Tracking the accuracy over 10 days, I found the Commuter averages +0.6 seconds a day. That’s phenomenal. When I owned a Rolex Oyster Perpetual, that’s pretty much the same level of accuracy that I was getting from its Superlative Chronometer movement. Of course, your mileage may vary. But the Miyota 9000 series is a well-regarded family of movements. And when it does need to be serviced eventually, they are inexpensive enough to replace instead.
The one drawback to the Miyota movement is the uni-directional winding of the rotor. It winds in one direction, and the rotor spins freely when moving in the opposite, non-winding direction. And spin freely it does. Usually, it’s not noticeable. But sometimes, with the right flick of the wrist or swing of the arm, that rotor can really get moving, which you can both hear and oftentimes feel.
Most automatic watches make some noise when the rotor spins, at least at the sub $2k or even sun$3k price point. You’ll hear it in a $200 Seiko and a $1500 Monta. And the Miyota is no exception. I suppose that’s a trade-off for the reliability, accuracy, and affordability of the movement.
Trask Commuter Review Conclusions
The Traska Commuter may be one of the most go anywhere, do anything watch of all any GADA watch released in the past several years. It’s a simple, timeless steel sports watch with classic sizing that wears extremely well on just about any wrist and will last a lifetime. With a price of just $565, it won’t make a huge dent in your bank account. If that sounds appealing to you, the Traska Commuter is one of the best everyday watches that you can get.
The Traska Commuter is a great watch, but it isn’t perfect. The first thing I’d change is the end links. I’d help the center link of the end links flow more seamlessly into the center link of the bracelet by lowering the height of the end links between the lugs. Second, I’d improve the clasp and machine it to be just a bit smoother and more precise. The push-button mechanism on the clasp can be slightly jangly as well—I’d tighten that up. Third, I’d prefer a smoother screw-down crown action. And finally, while I respect and appreciate the accuracy of the economical Miyota 9019 movement, a quieter, bi-directional movement would be preferred. I’d even be willing to pay a bit more for a well-regulated ETA movement. The watch is worth it, in my opinion.
Essentially, what would take this watch up a level (or two) would be a few small changes to make it feel a little more solid, precisely machined, and quieter on the wrist. Not that the watch isn’t already on a pretty good level where it currently stands.
The biggest problem with the Traska Commuter is its availability. This is another thing that the Commuter shares with a Rolex: you probably can’t just go out and buy either one. Though Rolex is one of the world’s largest watchmakers, it can’t satisfy the demand for its products. Traska is one of the smallest and seems to suffer from a similar problem.
But in Traska’s case, the challenge with meeting demand is because the brand is so small. Due to the up-front funding involved, and because they are dependent on third-party manufacturers for everything, Traska can only produce watches in limited batches. And, like many microbrands, they can only do that a few times year at best. Luckily, it sounds as if another Commuter release is coming later in 2021.
Beyond the small complaints, the Traska Commuter is a very nice watch, especially in the sub-$1000 range. Of course, it isn’t a replacement for those with the wherewithal and inclination to buy something far more pricey like the Rolex OP, Datejust, or Omega Aqua Terra. But for around 1/10 to 1/20 the cost, it’s truly a great option for anyone else.
Check availability and get more details on the Commuter at www.traskawatch.com.
The Rolex-shaped Elephant In The Room
Let’s face it: the Traska Commuter looks a lot like the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. There are close similarities in the indices and handset style of both the Commuter and the OP family of watches.
But there are also a few significant things to keep in mind, in my opinion, when comparing the Traska Commuter and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. First, the two OP versions that the Traska is most often compared to are the 39mm white dial and 34mm olive green dial. But neither of those Rolex models is 36mm. And both Rolex models have been discontinued, so you can’t buy them new anymore. If you could even get onto a waiting list and be selected by a Rolex dealer to be allowed to buy one in the first place, of course.
And then there is the price. New from an authorized Rolex dealer, the 36mm Oyster Perpetual costs almost 10x what the Traska Commuter costs. And if you want the white dial OP, you’ll need to find one pre-owned. And those are often listed online at the time of this review for over $9000. That’s more than 16 times the price of the Commuter.
So really, there isn’t much to compare between the Commuter and the Oyster Perpetual in practical terms. Honestly, the two watches are not in the same class and are simply not made for the same buyer. To buy the OP, you must have the finances and the desire to spend at least 10 times the cost of the Traska. And either a Rolex AD has to be willing to sell you one, or you need to be willing to pay over retail—perhaps thousands over retail—to buy one pre-owned. Those seeking a similar style watch but who are not in the market for a Rolex Oyster Perpetual have a pretty good—actually, really good—alternative in the Commuter.