Originally launched in 2008, the Kansas microbrand Raven has since produced a wide range of everyday sports watches ranging from hommage-effect divers like the rather prescient Vintage of 2011 to more burly 2,500m water-resistant leviathans like the Titanium Deep. With this blue-dial version of the Trekker 39, Raven further establishes itself as a small brand with its finger on the pulse of current enthusiast interest.
Raven is the second small brand operated by one Steve Laughlin (who you might remember from this), who cut his teeth with Benarus, a company that formed some of my earliest fascinations with this fun and accessible corner of the watch world. He’s been in the sport watch world for about as long as the concept of a microbrand has existed.
Since 2010, I’ve owned several watches from Benarus, and then Raven, and I only bring it up because the Trekker 39 exceeded my general expectations and also managed to illustrate just how far Raven has come since its earliest models. The “39” in the Trekker’s name is based on the case size (i.e. 39mm wide). Match that with a thickness of 13mm and a very wearable 47.5mm lug to lug (making it very similar in size to another very well-known 39mm diver).
Microbrands have always excelled at leveraging relatively tiny production scale as a tool to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the general space. So while Raven has produced watches in a variety of sizes, the Trekker 39 is welcomely a bit smaller than its forebearer.
Making something that checks all the enthusiast boxes requires steadfast adherence to the trends – while also not missing any obsession-worthy details. After all, the minutia can often separate a thoughtful design from the ocean of crowd-funded “off the rack” dive watches that have flooded forums and Instagram in the past few years.
With that in mind, the Trekker offers a spec list that certainly shows a thoughtful consideration for what makes a good dive watch: 300 meters of water resistance, a screw-down crown, X1 blue Super-LumiNova lume, a bezel beset with a luminous pip at 12, excellent legibility, drilled lugs, a solid caseback, and a sapphire crystal with an internal anti-reflective treatment.
It also comes in an almost dizzying array of versions, and while the blue-dial version is new (and includes no less than eight variants), Raven also makes the Trekker 39 in a handful of other dial designs. There’s even a bronze version.
For this new blue piece that’s currently on pre-order sale until the end of March, interested parties can pick between two different dials, date and no-date, and steel or fully lumed ceramic bezels. Raven even offers the option of a silver or yellow seconds hand. The model seen in this review is the “B2” version of the Trekker 39, which has the numeric dial, no date, a steel bezel, and a yellow seconds hand. In total, Raven is producing 300 individually numbered units of the Trekker 39, with 100 of those being of the blue-dial persuasion.
Regardless of spec, all Raven 39s come on a full-steel bracelet that is just miles better than what we used to get with sub-$ 1,000 microbrand watches. Tapering from the 20mm lugs to 16mm at the clasp, the Trekker 39s bracelet is fully brushed steel with solid end links, single-sided-screws (so you can easily size it yourself with a single screwdriver), and a simple but robust fold-over safety clasp with four points of micro-adjust. I’m not generally a bracelet guy, but this one punches above its weight class and suits the watch nicely on wrist.
Sized for my seven-inch wrist, the Trekker 39 weighs 146 grams and feels very sturdy. I would describe its wrist presence as reassuringly chunky (which I mean entirely as a compliment). The steel bezel finish makes the watch appear a bit larger than I expected for 39mm, but it thankfully doesn’t wear big in any dimension. Those wanting the most svelte impression may want to opt for a version with the fully lumed ceramic bezel (and you gotta love all that lume).
Speaking of the bezel, the Trekker 39’s action is medium in weight and not too clicky. Accuracy is good and slop is minimized to just the compression of the bezel’s spring. Along those same lines, the general fitment and tolerances are excellent for the price point, with the Trekker 39 feeling tight and well made all the way down to its crown.
Shown in the images in its fully screwed down position, the crown protrudes from the case more than I would like, and I’d wager that at first glance, it will be something of a divisive element for the Trekkers design. That said, the more outward position makes the crown very easy to use, and the crown itself is very nicely executed, with heavy threading, lots of grip, and minimal wobble when unscrewed. Additionally, I didn’t experience any undue discomfort from the crown digging into the back of my hand.
Unscrew that crown and pull it out, and you’ll quickly notice that there’s no phantom date position for the Trekker 39; the no-date versions swap out the Miyota 9015 for a naturally date-free 90S5. Ticking at 4 Hz and rocking 24 jewels, the 90S5 has hacking, hand-winding, and a power reserve of up to 42 hours. It’s a simple, reliable movement that should operate in a fuss-free manner and create minimal headaches when it comes time for a service.
Finally, covering that movement we find the Trekker 39’s blue dial. And while the anti-reflective coating can make it hard to determine, the dial is a deep blue with a somewhat glossy finish that appears a dark navy blue in most light. Packing plenty of lume, not too much text, and a bright yellow seconds hand, the Trekker 39’s dial is certainly generic in terms of the base design, but the color and execution still manage to shine.
So that leaves us with the price, which is $ 700 before the end of March and $ 750 anytime thereafter. Despite it being more than a decade since I first got into the world of microbrand dive watches, the Raven and the Trekker 39 still manage to make a case for huge value at this price point.
Competition is all but endless, but the Trekker 39’s price is just one of many elements that Raven got right, and I remain surprised that so many of the small legacy dive brands (Halios, for another example) have remained steadfast in this price range, despite getting better and more refined with each generation.
If you love the idea of family-owned small business dive watches that could easily go toe-to-toe with popular options from the larger companies (including some at higher prices), the Trekker 39 is definitely worth your consideration. As Raven continues to grow and find its path, the refined and wearable Trekker 39 is just the sort of product that should keep this brand in the conversation.
The Raven Trekker 39 is a 39mm steel dive watch measuring 13mm thick and 47.5mm lug to lug. Several versions are available, but all have 300 meters of water resistance, a solid steel bracelet, drilled lugs, a screw-down crown, and a unidirectional dive bezel. The Trekker 39 uses a Miyota 90S5 automatic movement with hacking, hand-winding, and no phantom date position. Total production is limited to 100 units with the blue dial, and the blue versions are on pre-order until the end of March 2021 for $ 700, after which the Trekker 39 will cost $ 750. For more information, visit Raven online.