Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Replica Watch

Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Replica Watch Replica Watch Releases

Any replica watch using self-illuminating tritium gas tubes has probably been supplied by the Swiss company MB-Microtec. The company also makes its own replica watches, mostly “tactical” in theme and design, under the name Traser, and they have just unveiled their newest model. The new Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic is a 46mm field replica watch with an integrated compass ring and, of course, tritium gas vials for illumination. For Traser, the new replica watch represents a new feature for them with the internal compass ring as well as an additional automatic in their mostly quartz-powered collection.

Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Replica Watch Replica Watch Releases

Well-known within the military community for decades, Traser were one of the earliest adopters of tritium gas illumination, which they call “trigalight.” More commonly known as gaseous tritium light source (GTLS), this technology of small tritium gas-filled vials allows the replica watch’s hands and hour markers to glow brightly without prior exposure to light, making these replica watches perfect for nighttime viewing or tactical operations. As you’d expect, the new Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic makes ample use of “trigalight” as well as the more commonly used Super-LumiNova to create a real lume show for all the “ill-lume-inati” out there. See more about tritium gas tubes, how they are made, and all about the company in our visit to the MB-Microtec manufacture here.

Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Replica Watch Replica Watch Releases

The majority of Traser’s lineup feature all-black dials and PVD coated black cases, and the new Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic sports a black dial version called “Black Hole” as well as one with a “mystical Midnight Blue dial” which Traser states is intended to remind one of “the infinity of the universe.” Whether it evokes something that profound for you or not, the dial is a deep metallic blue color with printed, Super-LumiNova-coated white Arabic hour markers as well as a 24-hour scale for keeping military time. Traser is so excited about the Midnight Blue they almost forgot to tell us about the Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Black Hole model, which is also handsome with a black sunray finished dial.

Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Replica Watch Replica Watch Releases

Surrounding the hour markers are tritium vials which glow green. The hands are relatively straightforward with a stick minute hand and a yellow painted hour hand, both of which also have their own green tritium vials. Tracking the seconds is a sweeping black hand with a tiny tritium vial of its own. A black on white date wheel is in its usual spot at three o’clock. Yet another dose of Super-LumiNova is applied in the form of a ring which goes all the way around the chapter ring and dial – just for fun, I guess.

Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Replica Watch Replica Watch Releases

Around the dial is an internal bezel which is operated by the crown at eight o’clock and printed with typical compass markings. A cool feature here is that the cardinal and inter-cardinal compass points are also lumed. This particular compass feature is operated (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) by holding the replica watch horizontally, aligning the hour hand with the Sun, and visually bisecting the distance between the hour hand and the twelve o’clock marker to find South. Once you’ve done this, you can rotate the compass ring to indicate the cardinal directions and, theoretically, find your way. Ironically for a replica watch which is dripping with Super-LumiNova and GTLS vials, this method of wayfinding assumes daytime use and a clear view of the Sun.

Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Replica Watch Replica Watch Releases

Like most Traser cases, the Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic is a straightforward, if huge, PVD-coated stainless steel model with alternating brushed and polished surfaces. The Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic also has a screw-down crown (enabling 100m of water-resistance) at a less familiar eight o’clock position which is intended to keep the crown from digging into the back of your hand. An anti-reflective sapphire crystal rounds out the durable and tactical package. Traser have chosen not to publish the actual name of the Swiss automatic movement being used, though we feel comfortable assuming it is either the ETA 2824 or the near identical Sellita SW-200 as in their other replica watches. Keeping the whole thing on the wrist is a matching midnight blue nylon NATO-style strap with a complementary yellow stripe.

Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Replica Watch Replica Watch Releases

While not a huge leap for the brand, it is nice to see a new and slightly less “tactical” Traser coming out, especially in a configuration other than all-black – even though the brand also recently released bright, neon-colored P67 Officer Pro replica watches (hands-on here). The internal compass ring, more novelty than necessity, does add some potential use for the adventure-minded wearer in a pinch. A reasonable 895 CHF retail price should make the Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic Midnight-Blue a viable option for the large-wristed, tactically minded buyer in the market for an automatic which does a bit more than tell time.

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Junghans Meister Pilot

No listing of historic and significant timepieces would be complete if it didn’t fly into the realm of pilot’s watches. From the Longines Weems Second-Setting and Lindbergh Hour Angle, to Zenith and Breguet Type XX aviators’ watches, to the Breitling Navitimer — the history of watches (and really, the history of the world as we know it) would simply not be same if it wasn’t for the development and use of some of these pieces. And this is without even mentioning what is arguably the most famous and influential of all pilot’s watch designs: the B-Uhr style, which finds its contemporaries in the IWC Big Pilot, Stowa Flieger, and countless other watches ranging in price from $10 to $10,000 and beyond.

Junghans Meister Pilot - angle

The appeal of these timepieces is obvious: most famed pilots’ watches were at one point or another commissioned by some significant military unit, or — as in the case of the Cartier Santos — played some special role in the history of aviation. Yet, for all the inherent appeal of many vintage-style pilots, not all watches are created equal — and many beautifully designed and well-constructed pieces that have held some place in history don’t always earn the same recognition as the biggest players in the genre.

Junghans Meister Pilot - pair

The modern Junghans Meister Pilot is based on one of these watches, the Junghans J88 Bundeswher Fliegeruhr (see above, photo courtesy of FratelloWatches). The original piece was developed in 1955 for the newly-established West German military (the Bundeswehr), serving pilots of the time with its unique dodecagonal bezel, which was designed for easier gripping and rotating. It was a very distinctive watch, both in its earliest days and now, in Junghans’ re-edition, which pushed the frontier forward on functionality and aesthetic design, and set the tone for Cold War-era West German military watches — notably, alongside the Heuer-developed Bundeswehr 1550 SG (below, again via FratelloWatches).

Heuer Bundeswehr Pilots' watch

Like its predecessor, the modern watch (Ref. 027/3591.00, below) features an impressive bi-directional dodecagonal bezel on top of its thick, 43.3-mm brushed steel case. The bezel is somewhat slim in its construction, with small Arabic numeral markers to assist in tracking minutes passed, and a minuscule faux-patina luminescent triangle at its top. On the side of the case is a sturdy, signed crown and thick pump pushers, both of which are accentuated further by a solid, convex caseback featuring a compass rose in the middle.

The black dial is slightly domed in its construction, with two concave subdials for running seconds and a 30-minute chronograph counter. On the outer edge of the dial is a small, printed white minute ring, with printed, faux-patina Arabic numerals indicating the hour marks. The hour and minute hands are somewhere between a sword and syringe style, and the chronograph seconds counter has a simple, weighted-end arrow design. Powering the watch is the automatic Caliber J880.4, which has a 38-hour power reserve and is based on the ETA 2824 with an added Dubois Depraz 2030 chronograph module — a movement similar (in name only) to the hand-wound J88 of the original piece. The brand has priced the watch at $2,465, though you’ll likely be able to find it for less at some dealers.

Junghans Meister Pilot - front

As compared to the original piece, the modern Meister Pilot takes many of the vintage details and works to further bolden and sharpen them. For example, while there are many details shared between the watch and its predecessor — the unique bezel; the black, easy-to-read dial; the brushed-steel case construction, etc. — the contemporary piece adds refinement to the bezel, domes the dial for easier reading, and enlarges and more eloquently finishes the case to meet modern manufacturing standards. Similarly, the subdials have been enlarged, matted, and made concave, in contrast to the glossy, vintage-style subdials that lie flat against the dial. You’ll also notice the widening of the chronograph pushers to match the thicker case.

The few details that are solely found on the modern watch are its sword hands — the vintage version used simple stick hands, even though sword-style hands were not uncommon on chronographs during the original watch’s era — and the addition of the “Chronoscope” and “Made in Germany” texts toward the bottom of the dial.

Junghans Meister Pilot - back

Overall, Junghans has done well in re-creating this historical watch within a modern framework. The case is a bit larger than some vintage-watch enthusiasts may be comfortable with, but the watch is in the end a pilot’s piece, meant for maximum readability, and one with so many strong features it might have felt cramped if put in a smaller package. Besides this, the Meister Pilot is plainly interesting to look at: its dodecagonal bezel is an attractive quirk, its dial is clean and has a nice curve, and its case is noticeably well constructed and sturdy, as any good military-inspired piece should be. Take all of these details — combined with it being relatively inexpensive for the value it represents, and its interesting historical link to one of the first watches of a then-newly formed, democratically organized West German military — and you have yourself an excellent conversation piece.

For our last article in the “Vintage Eye” series in which we compare the modern Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 to its historical predecessor, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field, and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.