Davosa is a brand that doesn’t get much air time, but whenever we’ve taken a look at their watches, we have been pleasantly surprised. They are a bit different from what else is out there, pursuing their own concepts, and they keep prices fairly low. The last one we reviewed, the Vanguard, is actually one of the nicer dress/casual watches we’ve seen. It had a nice, vintage design, an elegant and very thin case and solid finishing. At under $1,000, it’s a winner.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at one of their newer watches, the Trailmaster, which is a sporty watch with an outdoors theme. It has a rugged case design with hooded lugs, an internal bezel, sapphire crystal and is powered by the trustworthy ETA 2836-2. Tying it all together is a cool drab olive dial, giving it a slightly military feel. At $785, it’s another well priced time, so let’s see how it shapes up.
Davosa Trailmaster Review
Movement: ETA 2836-2
Water Res.: 100M
Dimensions: 42 x 47.25 mm
Thickness: 12.3 mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Crown: 7 x 4.5 mm
I’m a fan of barrel cases and cases with hooded lugs, most of the time. Being that they are less common, the watches that have them immediately tend to feel a bit different from the herd. Stylistically, they can be hit or miss, it really depends on how they are used and the general concept of the watch, but when they work, they work well. The Trailmaster isn’t the first outdoors watch with a barrel case we’ve seen (in fact, the other has the very name “Outdoors”), but it’s a context that works. Davosa also threw in an internal bezel, adding more functionality into the mix.
The case itself measures a healthy 42 x 47.24 (at longest point) x 12.3mm, making it a medium to large, but comfortably sized watch as it’s not long. The design is very simple, with a broad fixed bezel on top, slab sides that cut under with a nice bevel and a general lack of adornment. It’s a tool watch in many ways, and the plainness works in the context. The hooded lugs change things up just by adding mass to the overall design. Rather than coming to a flat end, the hoods round out ever so slightly, giving the case a softer look.
On the right side at three is the main crown, which measures 7 x 4.5mm, making it sizable and easy to grasp. The design is also very simple and plain with coin edging and a slightly domed end that features their star logo. I was surprised however to find that it was not screw-down, as that seems to be a logical feature on a concept like this. The internal bezel crown is at ten and comes in at 6 x 4mm, making it noticeably smaller, but not small. The design is different too, featuring a split line around its circumference. This one also does screw down… which is it’s biggest issue.
It should screw down, as should the main crown, the problem is that it doesn’t always disengage from the internal bezel mechanism correctly, so the bezel will continue to turn. This doesn’t happen all the time, and I’ve gotten better and finessing it, but it shouldn’t happen at all and can be tricky. The mechanism itself is non-ratcheting and bi-directional that is pretty decent, having some resistant, a bit of a gear feel, but overall smooth action.
Flipping the watch over, you have a display case back, showing the undecorated ETA 2836-2 movement inside. Not a needed window, but not one that hurts really either as it’s always fun to watch a movement do its thing. The case has a 100m water resistance, which I wonder if it could have been upped by having a solid back and a screw down crown, though this is a “land” watch by concept. The Trailmaster is finished as simply as it is designed, with an even bead blasting on all surfaces. This gives it a matte finish with a slight luster.
The Trailmaster dial sticks with the theme of simplicity and achieves a well balanced and very legible design. What makes it interesting is the use of color. There are 4 versions of the Trailmaster, a sunburst blue with yellow highlights, a metallic black with red, a gunmetal with orange, and the one we have here, drab olive with off-white. While the others might have more impact, I’m a fan of drab things, matte colors, earth tones, etc, so I was immediately drawn to the olive version, and it’s great. It’s just the right color, not too pale, not too saturated, but faded feeling. It’s as though they took an olive green and left it in the sun for a year. The off-white accent color is so subtle you might not notice it at first. It really looks like a sun-bleached yellow, the ever-so-slight shift from white adding to the look and feel of the watch.
The main index is then simply wide white, lumed rectangles at the hours with no difference between them, except at 3 where the marker is shorter to make room for the date. Between the marks are short hash marks for the minutes/seconds with even shorter marks for 1/5th seconds. For the first 15 minutes/seconds, the markers are the off-white accent color, and then white for the next 45. It’s a clean, sporty layout that is very easy to read and decent looking too. The big day/date window at 3 has a black date on a white wheel, which works with the markers around.
The internal bezel features a 60 minute/second index with numerals at intervals of 5 and nothing else. 60 – 15 are in the off-white color and the rest are in white, corresponding with the minute/second marks inside. As a chapter ring, this index provides at a glance legibility for the minute, but as an internal bezel, it lacks purpose. I love that there is an internal bezel in general, but I think more could have been done with it to add functionality. As is, it’s just for elapsed time. A countdown bezel could have been an option, a zulu/time bezel for second time zone another… Or even the kind-of-confusing, but hiking/trail appropriate, compass bezel could have been a nice touch (this is how they work). As is, it’s mostly aesthetic, and while looking good just a missed opportunity.
The Trailmaster features straight sword hands for the hours and minutes in white lume with black cover by the center axis. Can’t argue here, they are easy to distinguish from each, legible and appropriate for the design. The second hand is a thin tapering stick in the off-white accent color. The lume featured on the hour markers, hour and minutes hands is likely C1, looking white in light, green in the dark. The lume is functional, but not exceptional. It glows dimly and has a spotty appearance.
Straps and Wearability
The Trailmasters come mounted on pretty unique textile straps, most likely made of nylon. They fit the 22mm lugs, but have a notched design, just like the Di-Modell Chronissimo, expanding to 24.75mm. This makes them flow with the barrel case down the tapering length of the strap for more fluid lines. The strap construction is interesting too. They are thick at 4mm, featuring padding through out, and are sort of double-sided. Not that they are reversible, but the construction is as though there are 2 thinner straps sandwiching a padded interior, stitched together along the edge. The sizing holes are reinforced with a leather strip on both the front and back, ensuring no fraying of the material and adding a decidedly aggressive detail.
They look great with the watch. The olive fabric being an obvious but solid choice to go with the olive dial. They provide some of the military, rugged look or a military strap with the size and build of a leather strap. It’s a style that works, and as something I’ve only seen on this watch, likely their own design, making it special to the watch. My only issue, and one that might go away over time, is that the material is a bit rough, and since it’s up against your skin on the inside, it can get irritating. Some type of thin nubuck or pig skin lining might take care of that.
The Trailmaster wears very well. The 42 x 47.24mm case is wide enough to be on the large side, but short enough to fit well. Because of the internal bezel too, which is quite wide, the proportions of the watch make sense. As such, it just looks good on the wrist. The design is fairly understated because of how generally simple it is and the matte finish, but the use green gives it more than enough personality. It’s actually a fun watch to wear, as it’s very sporty and just different enough.
Given the styling and theme, it’s a very casual watch and should be warn as such. It’s less an office watch, and more a go-out and do stuff watch. It’s designed for the trail, so they say, so might as well use it as such. It might even looked good with a few scratches and nicks on the case. The strap too will take to being active, going in water, getting dirty, etc.. The green looks good with pretty much anything, but can’t go wring with blue jeans and brown boots. I tried it on with some jean-cut khakis, which worked nicely, adding more earth tones into the mix. To switch things up, you can definitely wear the watch on a rugged leather strap. I tried one of my most worn in Model 2 Russets, which has a lot of patina, and it looked pretty cool.
The Davosa Trailmaster is a fun, sporty watch with pretty good looks that just misses the mark here and there. Overall, nothing would prevent someone from enjoying the watch, nor is it of bad quality in the places that count, but with a few improvements it could be great. For me, the biggest is the internal bezel insert as it just feels like the watch could have done more. It could have pushed the “trail” concept further, and maybe stood out because of it. Not too many of us fly, though many of us own pilot’s watches, but many of us hike, yet few own “trail” watches. There are customers to be had.
Coming in $785, the watch is priced very fairly for a new Swiss made timepiece with an ETA 2836-2, especially considering Davosa is a relatively small brand. Prices like that are more in-line with Swatch Group brands, and ETA is their partner, so they aren’t paying inflated prices. Other than the finicky bezel-crown and the less than stellar lume, the build quality is good. The strap in particular is quite a beast, though that’s likely the cheapest part to make.