Lets explore the Traser P96 Outdoor Pioneer & the P68 Pathfinder GMT...

The Special Operations watch manufacturer Traser has recently released two new models. The Outdoor Pioneer range, an enhanced military spec platform, and the Pathfinder Range, a complete diversion from everything we associate with Traser. We have been lucky to test both new models, however before we look at the watches in detail let us explore where these instruments hail from.

Many watch brands equip their dials with small Tritium vials that glow with a brilliant intensity at night. Some manufacturers have a distinct fashion angle whereas others follow a purer military doctrine. Whatever the intended target buyer all such watches ultimately stem from an iconic original creation, the Traser H3 P6500, which won a 1989 US Special Forces contract against technical specification MIL-W-46374F. This requirement demanded the introduction of watches with radically new hermetically sealed tritium vials in the dial and hands, and a strict 25 millicuries radiation emission level.

The watches also had to be light and display high Explosive Ordnance Disposal capability, in other words, have as little metal as possible to avoid triggering magnetically operated explosives. The resulting developments in polyamide produced a new breed of ultra-light and strong waterproof watches.

P96 Outdoor Pioneer Evolution

Traser P96 - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

The Outdoor Pioneer range entry model is a highly capable unit including a reinforced polyamide case weighing only 60g, K1 mineral crystal, Blue or Green Trigalight tritium and a water resistance of 200m. This base model then evolves through the range into an upgraded P96 Evolution in various colour specs and a P96 split-second chronograph.

We were supplied with a non-chrono Evolution powered by a simple but functional Ronda 515 movement. Whilst the P96 is an original creation there is no mistaking, out of the box, that it is a Traser. It has the same rugged characteristics one would expect from any milspec supplier. The watch has a very solid feel, enhanced by the polyamide case.

Traser P96 - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Supreme legibility is key in such watches and the P96 certainly has that covered. In all light conditions the ability to see the time accurately is achievable. The watch has a bold 44 mm presence on the wrist which gives a good size dial and in common with all military Trasers the 24-hour indices are located below the 1-12 numbers. The second hand, in the past often red, is now white to match the other hands creating a clean monochrome look.

The slightly skeletonised minute and hour hands have a bold purposeful appearance and the glass vials of tritium embedded in them lend a tactical edge.

Although rated to 200m the watch does not have a screw down crown but is fitted with a twin position push/pull crown which does feel well sealed. Time adjustment has a tight, feel with no play in the hands when zeroing the watch.

The polyamide case back is matt black with silver laser engraved spec details in a militaristic font. All the watches are individually serial numbered which is a nice touch.

It is at night that the P96, like any Traser, becomes really interesting. The Trigalight is bright and bold with the 1-11 hour markers glowing a soft green and the 12 in contrasting orange. The marker dot on the unidirectional bezel also glows green. According to Traser these glass tubes will continue to glow for another 20 years.

Attention to detail on the watch is high. For example, there is a single ring of green SuperLuminova around the dial of the watch. It has no tactical purpose other than to focus the eye at night but looks stiking. The date wheel is black to match the face and either side of the H3 logo on the dial are two tiny horizontal tritium vials just conforming which way is up. These little details truly lift the P96 into a league of its own.
The Outdoor Pioneer range retails at £185-£375 depending on model from Traser UK.

Strap Suggestions for the P96

ZULUDIVER NATO Classic Bond Black Metal

Traser P96 on the ZULUDIVER NATO Classic Bond Black Metal - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

The OEM rubber strap supplied is soft and instantly useable with an embossed Traser buckle. But should you feel like a change the following would work exceptionally well. As this is a military style watch, it is probably best not to put it on leather. It just would not look right, however what would look perfect is a well-chosen ZULUDIVER NATO.

The Classic Bond NATO PDV Black is almost prefect. It has a Special Operations look and the grey stripes compliment the case back engraving and white numerals. The black PVD metalwork matches the polyamide case giving the watch a fundamentally different look yet keeping the essential operational style.

ZULUDIVER Quick Release Sailcloth Waterproof Diver

Traser P96 on the ZULUDIVER Quick Release Sailcloth Strap - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

A rugged watch on one of the most rugged straps available can only be a great match. The quick release ZD Sailcloth has a sophisticated and slightly less militaristic look which lifts the P96. The strap variant with the grey stitching compliments the case back of the watch but equally the red stitch model lifts the impact of the watch in a subtle way. The ZD embossed satin steel buckle of the Sailcloth suits the watch but if you wanted to go for a full black 360º tactical look a special black ZD PVD buckle is also available.

ZULUDIVER 317 Italian Rubber Diver's Watch Strap

Traser P96 on the ZULUDIVER 317 - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Only when you examine a ZULUDIVER 317 closely do you fully appreciate the angular ‘cavatto’ cutaway. This simple, but highly functional strap, enhances the 200m capability of the P96 and its uncomplicated design sits perfectly with the plain black bezel and case.

Hands on with the P68 Pathfinder GMT

Traser P68 - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Where the P96 pays homage to the early days of Traser the Pathfinder range is a wholly new creation and is a million miles away from the original military H3.

Aimed firmly at the outdoor and world traveller market where navigation and dual time zones are a priority the Pathfinder range has two models. A quartz GMT Ronda powered platform with a fourth 24-hour hand and an automatic ETA 2824-2 non-GMT model.

All come on a short NATO style strap. Watchgecko was supplied with the P68 GMT quartz model.

Traser P68 - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

On unboxing the Pathfinder is a mighty watch. It is a sizable 46mm and the complex compass outer bezel design has almost a Navitimer quality to it. The weight of the watch is not excessive at 110g but it does require a decent strap to distribute the general mass on your wrist. A PVD coated steel case gives a sense of luxury nicely blended with a nod to tactical functionality.

The Pathfinder GMT does look like the kind of watch you could cross the Sahara with. The large dial is a smart move and stops it looking cluttered or over designed. The GMT hand is accented in bright red and the compass bearings are well defined and easy to read.
The watch has two crowns. The standard right mounted crown is screw down maintaining the 100m water resistance and adjusts time and date in the normal way. The low left crown is where the fun starts.

Once unscrewed this manually revolves the compass and 24-hour clock bezel in either direction. This allows you to fix bearings for accurate direction of travel or set another time zone for parallel reading on your watch. The dual function of this lockable bezel is superb and would genuinely be an asset to anyone who enjoys trekking or is a regular traveller between time zones.

There are two colour models of the GMT, blue and green. The blue has perhaps a slightly more civilianised look whereas the green variant is military. Both colours work well, and the subtle tones make the dials relaxing and easy to live with. The hour and minute hands are rather small, skeletonised and black; bucking Traser’s tend. They are not so easy to read (especially black hands against a dark blue dial) however I can see why they have been created in this style as the design compliments the overall package.

Again, at night the Traser DNA comes to life and the P68 puts on an impressive light show with green and blue Trigalight. SuperLuminova has also been applied in a green ring around the watch and the cardinal points of the compass have been illuminated for use at night.

As with the P96, attention to detail is extremely high and you can see that a great deal of thought has gone into the design with a conscious effort to break the traditional Traser mould.
The Pathfinder range retails between £385 and £795 depending on model from Traser UK.

Strap Suggestions for the P68

The Helford Sailcloth Waterproof Watch Strap

Traser P68 on the Helford Sailcoth - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Even with a sizable 24mm lug width there is plenty of choice for a P68 user. The Helford Sailcloth is such a strap offering uncompromising style with functionality. Ideally suited to any activity where the P68 may get wet or be subjected to sweat, perhaps when you are crossing that desert!

This exceptionally durable watch strap is constructed of a Salient Sailcloth print PVC and padded for comfort. Completed with a sturdy brushed finish stainless steel buckle etched with the ZULUDIVER logo this strap would be a perfect alternative pairing for a Pathfinder.

Spexhall Genuine Leather Watch Strap

Traser P68 on the Spexhall Genuine Leather Strap  - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

An adventure watch always looks good on leather. Especially when it is a little worn. The Distressed Grey Spexhall from WatchGecko would be a fine choice to add a wholly different look to a Pathfinder P68. The distressed nature of the leather will add to the tales behind the life of the watch, no doubt becoming worn as you cross the globe. The grey colour also will complement the graphite tones of the PVD case.

Genuine Vintage Bond NATO

Traser P68 on the Genuine Vintage Bond NATO - Image Credit: WatchGecko Online Magazine

Although the P68 comes on a good NATO, it would sit well on a 24mm longer strap which allows for the watch to be word over clothing. The Genuine Vintage Bond which takes inspiration from the screen used strap of 007 would add to the persona of the watch. Either the satin steel or PVD black metal work will work well against the Traser case.

Final, personal, thought…

Traser represents the absolute best of military and Special Operations equipment. In 1989 they set a trend for watches that will never fade, and how many watch manufacturers can say that? I have used a (now weathered) Traser Code Blue for many years and two old friends, one British Ex-SBS and one American Ex-SEAL Team Two, both still wear Trasers. The new models really enhance the Traser portfolio and are well worth a look whether you commute to work in a Blackhawk or just enjoy walking in the great outdoors.

We'd like to thank Traser UK for sending these watches in on loan, to find out more click here.