LUM-TEC Combat B7 Watch Review

LUM-TEC Combat B7 Watch Review

LUM TEC Combat B7 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

LUM-TEC recently sponsored a Combat B series watch giveaway on aBlogtoRead.com and I was impressed with results. It was a record month for giveaway entrants, and tons of people seemed to swoon over what LUM-TEC has to offer. There is something about LUM-TEC watches that drives passion in watch lovers and novices alike. Almost since the brand's inception, the Combat B series has been part of their collection. A more modern interpretation of the classic coined-edge bezel fleiger - this watch has been offered in a ton of limited edition versions. This is the Combat B7 model.

Each LUM-TEC watch is a limited edition. I've reviewed their watches before, and most of you know and like them. LUM-TEC is a homegrown US brand hailing out of Ohio. In my opinion, the key to their success has been to closely listen to what the American watch buyer wants. The last 20 years have seen an overall drop in American's consumption of timepieces. There are a great many reasons for that, so please don't just blame mobile phones. Part of that has to do with Swiss brands losing touch with what Americans want, and Japanese brands being able to come in and win over value-conscious Americans with good, cheap watches. 20 years of Casio G-Shock makes a lot of people more than hesitant to buy a $5,000 Swiss timepiece.

But I digress. LUM-TEC came on the scene with timepieces in the $300 - $400 range and proved that Americans are quite interested in professional looking analog watches that has a "functional promise" personality. Not most LUM-TEC watches are bit more (but so are the quality), but continue the same tradition of activity and professional style watches for everyday use. The design is modern and straight forward. There is an edginess to them, but there is also a handsome utilitarian quality to these timepieces. You know what? LUM-TEC watches are the American pickup trucks of the watch industry. I just realized that - I feel like I had an epiphany.... and Europeans do not make good pickup trucks.

The Combat B7  is a lot like today's Jeep Wrangler. It certainly has a military vibe to it, but is refined looking, and focuses subliminally suggesting to you activities you should perform while wearing it. Put one on and look at the high-tech looking carbon fiber dial  in the dark matte gray case and tell me you don't just want to go straight in to a group of trees and get lost? The steel case is 43mm wide and PVD coated to a dark gray, but not quite black. It has a satin finish to it. The crown is large, and voila... I finally have in my possession a LUM-TEC watch with a signed logo on the crown. What prevented this before was LUM-TEC not yet deciding on a good logo in this size.

LUM TEC Combat B7 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

With highly curved lugs the watch is comfy. This is especially true with the 22mm wide NATO style nylon strap that gives it a snug fit. LUM-TEC throws in two straps. One in black, and one in this olive green. I opted for the green pretty quickly because I love the military feel of it. Of course, you can use your own strap is the bulky style of a NATO strap doesn't suit you for all occasions. What about a rubber strap? or perhaps a distressed black leather (even pigskin) strap with white contrast stitching. That might be interesting. NATO straps get some getting used to, but offer two major advantages. First is that if one pin between lugs breaks you won't lose the watch. Second, is that the style of the buckle places it to the side. Thus all you have is a smooth and flat piece of strap on the bottom of your wrist. This is good for when your wrist hits things underneath it - and would be uncomfortable or damage other watches.

LUM-TEC rates the watch as 100 meters of water resistance. The watch has a sapphire crystal with double AR coating, and nice looking real carbon fiber dial. I don't much like most carbon fiber dials, but this is one of the exceptions. Basically, the problem with most carbon fiber dials is that its almost 3D look hides elements on the face like hands and markers. When you can preserve high contrast, then a carbon fiber dial can look great. In this instance the hour markers and hands contrast quite well - for high performance legibility and look. LUM-TEC uses a no nonsense set of hour markers, minute markers and a full set of Arabic numerals. This makes the watch dead easy to read, and thankfully straight forward. It might have the pretty minimalism of a Panerai, but will beat it in terms of reading accuracy any day. One issue I have with the dial is the size of the hands. They just aren't quite large enough for my taste, and strict rules of watch dial proportions. Further compounding the issues it the style of hands LUM-TEC uses are outlined in black, which makes the hands look even shorter due to the fact that much of the time what you see if the white, not the black part of the hands. This doesn't effect legibility too much, but strictly speaking, the hands should be longer. I do like the splash of color on the dial with the red title of the watch.

LUM TEC Combat B7 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

One other small complaint about the dial is the date window. I like that LUM-TEC experimented with making it a round hole, versus a square one, but it is literally a little hole drilled into the dial. In fact, I would venture to say that it is round because drilling a hole in carbon fiber was easier than cutting one. The issue is that the border of the window might have been a tad bit more elegant, and opening up the whole a bit might have helped  with seeing the date at angles. Though that would have made it possible to see too much of other date numbers in the window. It is possible that LUM-TEC made the best out of a complex situation with the date window.

LUM-TEC is of the few watch brands out there that make their own lume. It is a special formula they call "MDV" (maximum darkness visibility), and is quite good. They uses many layers of it, and the lume not only works well, but is attractively applied in a thick fashion. In the dark, the luminant performs well, without looking grainy - which can happen a lot with cheap lume. MDV lume is good enough that others even buy it from LUM-TEC as an alternative to the more expensive SuperLumiNova.

LUM TEC Combat B7 Watch Review   wrist time watch reviews

This watch is an automatic. LUM-TEC uses a workhorse SII (Seiko) NH15J automatic movement, that also has hand-winding (not all Japanese automatics do). The movement works just fine without complaint. Don't forget that the Combat B series of watches comes in many case finishes, movements, and dials. I quite like this version, but you can get ones with out PVD coating, with simple matte black dials, with quartz chronograph movements, while being able to mix each of those.

As a limited edition of just 100 pieces, this is a hot watch that certainly won't last forever. But if LUM-TEC is out of this B7 model, its "cousins" are great timepieces as well. LUM-TEC continues to pursue today's American dream of watch making, and helps watch lovers stay excited, while enticing non-watch wearing people to join our club. Price for the LUM-TEC Combat B7 is $865 and available on their website here for purchase.

12 comments
David
David

I like the B series, and own an M-Chrono myself. It has been said before, but such a cheap movement is out of place at the watch's price. They really need to keep the price under $500, whether the movement is Japanese or a standard grade 2824. At the European price of a Lum-Tec I can get a Sinn with a top grade 2824, and that is just silly. The strap is nylon, the case isn't complex, the movement is cheap, so why, why, why the crazy price?

Marcus
Marcus

I found the review of the Lum Tec B series to be very well written and there is little argument about the aesthetic qualities of this watch. It is certainly well described as a |Jeep Wrangler of watches and would be great for everyday wear but the review barely touches on the inner workings of the piece. To me, what is inside is just as, if not more important than what is outside. Why design an automatic in this price range and put a Japanese movement in it? I have recently pre-ordered an M41 and expect to receive it sometime in January of 2011. Had there been any of the B series available with an ETA 2824 movement or even a good quality Ronda quartz movement I would likely have gone that route. I can't bring myself to purchase an automatic with a Japanese movement (made in China) in it for over $800 when I pre-ordered the M41 with an ETA 2824-2 for $650. I think Lum-Tec needs to reconsider some of their movement choices.

Marcus
Ontario Canada
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DirectWatchOutlet
DirectWatchOutlet

Another awesome review buddy.. Here's a link to the best Lum-Tec retailer :)
Direct Watch Outlet Lum-Tec Store

David Stoddart
David Stoddart

"Put one on and look at the high-tech looking carbon fiber dial in the dark matte gray case and tell me you don't just want to go straight in to a group of trees and get lost?" - Nearly woke the kids laughing at that comment !!! Seriously, I have only recently found this Lum-tec brand, and I want one !!!. I have joined their Facebook page and asked questions about how long the lume lasts over years (compared to Tritium - of which I have several watches), and they do state that once the Tritium gas has 'died' - thats it!, whereas Lum-tec have told me they can re treat any watch (after the 30 years life cycle). Want one. Want one now x-)

Ivan Y
Ivan Y

I like the looks of this series (titanium option would be nice though), but the date placement looks very weird. They could've went with Bell&Ross Vintage look and put date around 6 o'clock (symmetrical). Anyway, this watch looks better without a date. Perhaps, it's me, but I don't value dates very highly unless it's perpetual calendar. Messing around with dates every month is something that I always forget to do :)

@Scott: don't you think RGM is a bit more up-market from Lum-Tec? Lum-Tec seems like a middle ground (form vs. function) between RGM and MTM (makers of Special Ops watches for the military).

Bill P'
Bill P'

You did a fine review of a great watch. I have two B series Lum-Tec watches ( a B3 and B14) and am crazy about both. In addition I have two M series watches ( an M1 and an M13), both quartz, and I like them as well.

Not only is the Lum-Tec watch a great value, but the customer service is outstanding. I am a very happy customer and will be adding more to my collection as time goes by.

Kris C.
Kris C.

This is a good brand - I don't yet own one, but I would certainly be interested in the combat chronograph that was given away here a few months ago - it may be my favourite one. I find that with this brand most people fawn over the Lumzilla model, but I like the dedicated looks that the combat model has. I agree that the hands are a bit mis-sized, and I'll even go a step further and say that the actual hand design used could have been better. These don't exude the military-esque feel that the rest of the watch has, although I get that they are a pretty standard flieger choice, and at that I understand why they were chosen. But military and flieger are 2 seperate beasts. With the chrono model this is less noticable, which is why it would be my choice. Also, because I prefer more than less complications.

Scott Paden
Scott Paden

I have been a big fan of LUM TEC for three years now. I own 3 and have pre-ordered the 500 Dive watch, out at the end of this month and reviewed here a while back. They are great simple practical watches by a company that is supremely dedicated to its craft. In my humble opinion LUM TEC and RGM represent the US on the world watch scene at the highest levels. You do not have to make 2K plus watches to be considered world class.

Beau Hudspeth
Beau Hudspeth

Good to see that you got your hands on another LUM-TEC Ariel, and got 'down and dirty' with the photography. :D

Moving on ...

On the round date hole, I have to agree. It has an unfinished look about it that even the slightest ultra-high grit sanding or maybe the addition of a thin black grommet, could help alleviate - just a little something to cover up the obviously raw CF edge. Given, it is not really noticeable until you look at it under a magnifying glass (or in my case, a macro lens) but once you know it is there, it is hard to dismiss.

Now everyone, don't get me wrong, my B15 is far and away my favorite and best watch, but almost everything could use a tiny bit of refinement to it's details. The date hole just happens to be that area on the 'B' series.

2¢ given.

Watchmark
Watchmark

I can assure you that Lum-Tec is better than MTM. MTM is overpriced garbage. Lum-Tec is affordably priced, and truly what soldiers want and need.

pat i.
pat i.

Beau-

I haven't worked with composites in a while, but if memory serves the raw egde is alleviated (somewhat) by utilizing several methods:

1. If you use a decent amount layers each layer is rotated maybe 45 degrees to the previous one. But you still get some thread. Sanding may only make it worse.

2. You can seal a cut surface - I don't know it this can be accomplished neatly given that a watch has to look good and subject to close scrutiny.

3. You could use some sort of grommet or insert. This would probably be the best solution.

I'm in agreement with everyone. I like the Lum-tec watches. I'm not crazy about the strap. This style is a bit unrefined and reminds me of those cheap belts that come with khaki shorts. Do they make it with a rubber or metal strap?

steve
steve

Affordable maybe, value for money NO. I like some of lumtec designs but i dun get why they cost so much. The SII movement is made in china not japan. The case, hands, sapphires are made in china. Lume ok maybe they have them custom made. 10$ worth of lume can do at least 10 dials. Its a 300$ watch at best not 850$!