April 25, 2014
by James Stacey
Traser H3 watches are known to most enthusiasts for their use of tritium tube illumination. This connection is a natural fit as Traser is a subsidiary of MB-Microtec, the very company that developed the illumination technology that we see used in their watches. Traser calls their specific version of this technology Trigalight and it can be seen in use on all of their watches, including the Officer Pro model seen here.
The Officer Pro is a good example of what Traser does with watch design. They take a successful, relate-able and practical platform (such as a diver or in this case, a field watch) and install a full compliment of their glowing glass tubes. The Officer Pro measures 42 by 10.5 mm in steel with a black PVD treatment and a lug to lug length of 49.5 mm. The crystal is regrettably of the mineral variety, but the water resistance is a weekend-ready 100 meters, and the total weight on the included nylon (G10/NATO) strap is just 65g.
The dial is all business with large printed numerals for the both standard and 24 hour time, a fitting inclusion given the military vibe of the Officer Pro. There is a full minute scale around the outside of the dial and the minute hand is long enough to promote excellent legibility.
The quartz movement, a Ronda 715, offers a date display at three which, while the aperture is nicely beveled, cuts directly into the “3” display. For simplicity and balance, I always prefer a date implementation that doesn’t eat into the main numerals. Aside from the somewhat cheap looking date implementation, I like the dial design on the Officer Pro and the inclusion of the Trigalight illumination ensures there is no situation in which legibility can be compromised.
With 15 Trigalight illumination tubes, all of the hour markers and hands can be easily seen in any lighting scenario. These types of systems offer a “permanent” glow for a minimum 10 years as the glowing radioactive material has a half life of 12.3 years, at which point the output will be half as bright as it was when it was new. The main advantage of the constant luminous display is that you don’t have to charge the system on available light only to then watch the lume fade over the next few hours.
The Officer Pro is an ideal bed-side watch, its display is bright and crisp enough to be read with ease, regardless of how accustomed your eyes are to ambient light, or the lack thereof. If you love those hours (or minutes) when your conventional Superluminova or LumiBrite display is easy to read and offers a cool and enjoyable glow, then you’ll love the lume provided by the Trigalight system.
Since I was a little kid, I have loved anything that glowed in the dark. From stick-on stars for my bedroom ceiling to Creepy Crawlers cooked with phospholuminescent paint to my personal lume genesis; my trusty Glow Worm.
While the lume provided by gas light systems may not hold a candle to the initial brightness of paint-based applications (see Seiko divers), they glow consistently for years and their brightness is even, effective, and in no way distracting (a freshly charged Monster draws a lot of attention). For anything short of diving, or watches where the tubes might look out of place, this is a great way of providing low light legibility.
On wrist, the Officer Pro wears well and makes a convincing case for use in situations where you might not want to bring a mechanical watch, such as shock-prone sports, or in scenarios where it is critical that you’re able to easily and quickly read the time in a variety of lighting environments.
The Officer Pro literally shines in darkened movie theaters, night driving, or on late walks home from the bar. You’ll be surprised how often the Trigalight feature can comes in handy and, once you’ve grown accustom to its convenience, makes other watches a bother to wear in the dark.
The 42 mm size makes the Officer Pro ideal for a wide range of wrists and it’s not big enough to draw any attention to itself, nor is it so small that it feels delicate. With these positives in mind, there are a few head-scratchers to mention, like the NATO strap that oddly drops the PVD finishing of the case for an out-of-place steel finish. The included strap is not of especially high quality, even for a nylon strap, so plan on swapping in something else if the Officer Pro is going to spend a lot of time on your wrist.
It also would have been nice to see the crown finished in PVD or DLC as a black crown would be more subtle and better suit the overall design. Ultimately, the strap is only a very small concern as a decent NATO with PVD hardware can be found online for around ten to fifteen bucks, but it kinda feels like something that should be sorted by the OEM.
The Traser H3 Officer Pro retails for 292 CHF (around $330 USD at today’s rate), which makes it one of Traser’s most inexpensive watches. At $330, there is direct competition from brands like Marathon and Luminox, both of whom use similar illumination systems. If you want a field watch with gaseous tube illumination, the Officer Pro is a solid step up over the resin-cased Marathon General Purpose or Navigator and sports a similar list price to a range of options from Luminox. Apart from the strap, I rather enjoyed the Traser H3 Officer Pro and wholly endorse its Trigalight illumination system as a legitimately killer feature. traserh3watches.com
>Brand: Traser H3
>Model: Officer Pro
>Price: 292 CHF
>Size: 42 x 10.5 x 49.5 mm
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes, but only on a better strap.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for a field watch with a gas illumination system.
>Best characteristic of watch: Trigalight glowing gas markers and hands.
>Worst characteristic of watch: The included strap is a flimsy and its hardware is not matched to the Officer Pro’s case finish.