Along with being one of the most visually stunning locations on this planet, Iceland is also characterized by extreme environments. Colloquially known as “the land of fire and ice,” Iceland offers a rich landscape packed full of volcanoes, glaciers, and the aurora borealis, making the Nordic island nation a popular destination for tourists who appreciate the outdoors. With that in mind, despite all of Iceland’s beauty, the landscape can also be quite unforgiving, and each year, approximately 1,800 unprepared adventures are forced to call for the help of the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (“Slysavarnarfélagið Landsbjörg” — better known as ICE-SAR). As the official timepiece supplier to ICE-SAR, Luminox is responsible for outfitting the organization’s members with watches, and just as you might imagine, the timepieces used by ICE-SAR must be capable of standing up to some of the most rigorous and demanding conditions on this planet.

As one of its latest new releases for 2023, Luminox has created a new watch specifically for Iceland’s search and rescue crew, and the new Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series builds upon the design of the previous generation to create a highly utilitarian timepiece that is built to handle just about anything that Iceland’s extreme landscape can throw at it. While the previous ICE-SAR Arctic 1000 Series was a rugged and adventure-ready sports watch that incorporated a number of ICE-SAR-inspired design elements, the new 2023 Luminox Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series offers an even more robust design, while simultaneously expanding upon its purpose-built functionality for use during search and rescue operations.

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Similar to the previous generation, the case of the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series is crafted from CARBONOX, which is Luminox’s trademarked carbon composite material that is exceptionally strong, lightweight, and offers a lightly textured matte black appearance. Just like all carbon-based composites, CARBONOX offers a feel that is similar to an ultra-hard plastic, and unlike some carbon materials that are characterized by a gray color with large and prominent wavy lines, CARBONOX features a much more symmetrical structure that largely looks like black injection-molded plastic with a slightly uneven composition. In addition to being ideally suited for a durable and performance-oriented sports watch, CARBONOX also does not retain heat or cold as much as traditional metal alloys, making it the perfect material for a watch that will likely spend extended periods of time directly exposed to freezing temperatures and arctic climates.

The case of the Luminox ICE-SAR 1050 Series is properly sizable by all definitions of the term, and it measures 46mm in diameter by 13mm-thick, with 24mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug profile of almost 55mm. Additionally, it should be noted that the 46mm measurement is taken at the case’s narrowest point, and if you count the wider adjacent sections (which is basically everything except four small indentations), the actual outer measurement of the case comes in closer to 49mm. Just the crystal measures 35.5 mm in diameter (which is nearly the entire case size of the Rolex Explorer), and the rotating bezel alone has an outer diameter of 45.5mm, so the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series really wears a couple millimeters larger than its already sizable on-paper species might make it appear. With that in mind, the ICE-SAR lineup of watches are primarily designed to be worn over the thick sleeves of wetsuits and waterproof winter jackets, so its massive size is somewhat justified, and its CARBONOX case construction helps keep the overall weight at a rather manageable 73 grams (including the rather beefy rubber strap).

While the overall case shape of the new Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series is very similar to that of the previous 1000 Series generation, everything has been upgraded, and this really feels like the case that Luminox should have been using from the start. Surrounding the flat anti-reflective sapphire crystal is a prominent bezel with a 60-minute elapsed time scale in red and white. However, rather than being fixed like on the 1000 Series watches, the bezel on the new ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series rotates with a solid 60-click unidirectional motion, and it also features a luminous tritium gas tube embedded at the zero marker, which further expands the functionality of the bezel and allows it to be used for measuring elapsed time. Similarly, while the previous 1000 Series ICE-SAR models featured a push-pull style crown and a solid caseback secured by four small screws, the new Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series has a proper signed screw-down crown and a threaded one-piece caseback that screws into the middle case to help offer additional security for its ample 200 meters of water resistance.

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The dial of the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series has also received an update, and the new generation is available in three different colorways. Alongside the most traditional model pictured here (ref. 1051), which is largely black with white and red accents (the signature colors of ICE-SAR), the new 1050 Series is also available in a similar configuration that swaps red for orange (ref. 1052), while the third model features black and blue components paired with white and red highlights (ref. 1053). Similar to the previous generation, the dials fitted to the new ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series feature a date window at the 3 o’clock location and they are treated with a coarse sand-blasted finish to create a texture inspired by the lava fields that cover 30% of Iceland’s surface. While the subtle nod to Iceland’s geography is a nice design touch, the coarse sand-blasting also results in a matte black surface on the reference 1051, which offers minimal reflections and excellent contrast against its white and red markings.

Compared to the dial of the previous 1000 Series generation, the new Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series offers a more intentional overall display with circular markers replacing the Arabic numerals, except at the 12 and 6 o’clock locations, which retain their original design and are filled with white Super-LumiNova. Meanwhile, the signature luminous track of horizontally placed tritium tubes sits along the outer perimeter of the dial to offer a clear indication of the time in total darkness, and just like all tritium-based luminous technology, Luminox’s gas-filled tubes will glow continuously for up to 25 years at a time, without receiving any light exposure. Similar to other contemporary Luminox models, the tritium tubes on the hands, 12 o’clock index, and zero marker for the bezel all glow orange, while the rest of the tritium tubes emit a green glow, and this contrast in colors further helps provide a clear reading of the time in low-light settings.

The hour and minute hands offer the same overall shape as the previous 1000 Series watches, with a carabiner-inspired form that serves as a subtle nod to a core piece of equipment used by ICE-SAR members during every single rescue operation. While the hour and minute hands on the previous generation were completely finished white, the new Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series watches feature hands with black center sections and white finished tips, which further enhance their at-a-glance legibility. Although the hour and minute hand are essentially just updated versions of what can be found on the previous generation of ICE-SAR watches, the seconds hand has received a complete redesign so that it can now be used in conjunction with the pulsometer scale that has been added to the new Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series models.

Sitting along the outermost perimeter of the dial of the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series is a pulsometer scale, which is used for taking heart rate measurements, and this is something that was lacking in the previous ICE-SAR generation. As one of the more useful features that a watch built for search and rescue teams can offer, a pulsometer also happens to be fairly easy to incorporate into the design of a watch, without requiring a more complex movement. Since the pulsometer scale sits along the periphery of the dial, all you really need is a centrally-mounted seconds hand in order to utilize its functionality. Consequently, pulsometers are normally paired with chronograph complications for instantaneous access to their operation, but since the Luminox ICE-SAR 1050 Series is powered by a traditional three-handed movement, it uses a two-sided seconds hand to get around the issue of having to wait for the seconds hand to reach the 12 o’clock position before you can start taking a heart rate measurement.

Featuring a perfectly symmetrical twin-sided needle shape to ensure that a new pulse measurement can be taken every 30 seconds, the seconds hand on the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series is also finished with contrasting color tips to prevent users from accidentally confusing the two sides during high-intensity, life-saving operations. On the reference 1051 colorway of the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series, the seconds hand features a black center, with one side finished white, while the other is bright red. Meanwhile, the corresponding pulsometer scale along the raised outer periphery of the dial appears as a contrasting ring in a matching shade of bright red with white markings. White and red are the official colors of ICE-SAR, but they are also two of the three colors that make up Luminox’s logo, and the entirely black, white, and red color profile of the ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series ref. 1051 feels like a natural fit for this particular collaboration.

Powering the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series is the Ronda 515 quartz movement. Reliable, proven, and entirely inauspicious, the Swiss-made Ronda 515 is very much a known quantity, and Luminox states that you can expect a battery life of approximately 72 months from the new ICE-SAR 1050 Series. While there are some people who believe that all quartz watches should be solar-powered, requiring sunlight kind of goes against the whole point of Luminox watches, which is that they can remain fully functional and offer consistent luminescence for multiple years at a time in total darkness. All things considered, given that Iceland only gets about 4-5 hours of sunlight per day during the winter months, a battery-powered watch with luminescent tritium gas tubes seems like an entirely appropriate choice for members of the country’s search and rescue team. Additionally, even if these watches were powered by either a solar or mechanical movement, it would still make sense to have their gaskets tested every few years to ensure that they remain properly sealed against moisture and the demanding conditions that their users will inevitably face in the field during search and rescue missions.

Fitted to the 24mm lugs of the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series is a thick rubber strap that tapers from 24mm at the lugs down to 22mm where it connects to the chunky CARBONOX tang-style buckle. The strap itself features a black textile material infused with its outer surface, while the insides feature a textured pattern to help ventilate water and increase grip on the wrist. While the strap itself offers plenty of holes for adjustability and is perfectly suited for human wrists, the two sides aren’t actually all that long, especially considering that this particular watch is likely to be strapped over the thick sleeve of a jacket. With that in mind, the unusual cutouts located on the inside of the lugs mean that the ICE-SAR 1050 Series can also be used with pass-through style straps up to 28mm in width (including Luminox’s own 27mm velcro-style strap), and since the brand’s wrist-mounted compass also accepts pass-through style straps up to 28mm in diameter, it is highly likely that Luminox offers alternate options for ICE-SAR members who require longer straps for their watches.

Compared to the previous 1000 Series of watches that the brand created for ICE-SAR, the new Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series represents a significant step forward, offering increased functionality while still retaining much of the same design DNA that defined the original model. Despite its superior construction and added features, the new Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series costs the exact same as what the brand was most recently charging for the previous generation, and all three colorways are accompanied by an official retail price of $595 USD. While adventure-ready quartz watches are plentiful at this price point, few brands offer quite the same field-worn perigee as Luminox, and the ICE-SAR 1050 Series represents a compelling option for those who want a large and highly durable outdoors watch that has been designed to withstand the most demanding environments on this planet. For more information on the Luminox ICE-SAR Arctic 1050 Series watches, please visit the brand’s website.

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