I am the first to admit that I am a fan of LUM-TEC – it is no secret. The newer American based watch company that just seems to hit the spot each time, with a satisfying watch offering each time. All LUM-TEC watches are limited editions and made in relatively in small quantities. If you follow the company’s new developments you can most always get what you want, but by the time your friends see the watch, they might very well be out of luck trying to get one. For example, these new LUMzilla (which I will write out as “Lumzilla” because I feel like being lazy with the Shift key) watches come in just a handful of varieties, with just 100 models of each. In the scheme of watches at this price level, that is HIGHLY limited.
The collection is currently divided up into the LZ1, LZ2, and LZ3 watches. My first LUM-TEC watch was the M3 (which I reviewed here). The timepiece struck me as amazingly wearable, readable, and satisfying to look at (as well as affordable). It has such a comfortable mix of features and a look that was always welcome on my wrist. Now, just a couple of generations of watches later, LUM-TEC proves it is improving things with each new timepiece. Basically that means higher quality everything across the board, plus a mechanical instead of quartz movement. The price is up a bit of course, but the real deal is in pre-ordering the timepieces before they are released.
When I first learned about the LUM-TEC Lumzilla watches I didn’t know what to make of them. They are 50mm wide after all, and with a design I’ve never seen before. Then I saw some sneak preview shots that I discussed here, and finally I have the watch to share with you. Let me first say that the Lumzilla is the most wearable 50mm watch I’ve ever had. I love the size, and it doesn’t look silly on my wrist. Sure the watch case is tall, but it all looks proportioned on my relatively small wrists. You can see how complex the look of the case it. Shaped like a twine spool, you have a substantial looking (and feeling) case, but one that feels more svelte than it is. I also appreciate the large crown and the good use of polishing on the case. For example, you have mirror polished surfaces as well as brushed surfaces. This is something that previous LUM-TEC watches did not have (as far as I know), and represents a moving up the watch world ladder for the company. You’ll also notice the highly curved lugs that are perfect for having the watch wrap around your wrist. An excellent touch. The crown could have used a engraving on it. I realize that the LUM-TEC logo would not fit, but instead, the surface is so polished and large that you can easily see your reflection. So maybe it is good that it is bare, cause you can check your make up in the reflection (yes, ha ha).
The quality of the case is very good for this price level. Solidly made, good surfacing, and a finish that you’ll be proud of (sorry about any finger prints on it in the pics). You also have the black PVD version as well that gives you the all dark look and a different styled. If you are concerned about size, the PVD version appears smaller due to it all being black. The dial of the watch is the Lumzilla’s best asset. You get the upgraded LUM-TEC GX MDV lume, as well as large numerals and hour markers and easy to read hands. I needed to live with the dial for a bit to really measure it up. At first I though the hands were too small, but they really aren’t. The watch is bold looking but easy to read – a tough combination of traits. Many people ask me about lume quality. I can say that it is very good. With some charging, the lume stays bright and the application of the lume over the dial makes the entire face easy to read. The seconds hand is perhaps too small. It easily gets lost in the face. Black on black with just a red tip. If you like having a seconds hand, you might find yourself searching for it. However, I think that LUM-TEC did this on purpose. It was trying to give the face a more simple look, but still give you the benefit of having a seconds hand. Which means that it is sort of like a phantom seconds hand. Not too visible unless you are purposefully looking for it.
It is important that LUM-TEC watches be hardy – as that is part of the brand character in my opinion. The Lumzilla is water resistant to 100 meters and the movement is a Japanese Seiko automatic movement that I know to be pretty hardy. You can see the movement through a caseback window on the rear of the watch. LUM-TEC got itself a nice signed rotor, and you can check out the movement in action. I would have liked LUM-TEC to use a movement that offers hand-winding (not just automatic winding), but that would have upped the cost, plus those are hard to get in Japanese movements that are sold to third party companies. Going back to the dial, I like the sloped chapter ring with the minute markers on it a lot – really helps overall legibility. Then you have the framed date window where you can see the date disc that is thankfully black to match the color of the dial. The Lumzilla has a large sapphire crystal that has a lot of anti-reflective coating on it. This makes the dial “pop” really nicely. Like all AR coatings, they can attract smudges easily, but that can be wiped away. Looking at the dial closely with a loupe (magnifier), you can tell just how precise the text and lume application are. No bleeding and an overall excellent level of quality.
LUM-TEC chose a high quality rubber strap to match with the watch. It sits up right next to the case and there is no gap at all. The rubber is a high quality with a satin texture a finish. Very smooth feeling. There is also contrast stitching in the strap. It doesn’t serve a functional purpose really, but is rather cosmetic. You could easily mistake the strap as being smooth leather or something other than rubber. The strap is also “anti static.” The strap buckle is nice to operate actually, and again you see the LUM-TEC signature engraving. The wide flat pin fits easily into the holes on the strap for a secure feeling. In addition to upgraded watches, LUM-TEC’s packaging is getting better. They now include a “certificate of authenticity.” Not that there is a big “fake LUM-TEC market,” but it is a nice move in showing you their dedication (and it only costs a piece of paper). Of course you get the individualized warranty card as well. The three versions of the Lumzilla again are the LZ1 (steel with black dial), LZ2 (steel with all lume dial, “reverse dial”), and LZ3 (PVD with black dial). The LZ1 and LZ3 are available now, while LZ2 can be pre-orderd (coming in 9/2009) Pre-order prices are in the $450 range, while prices for the available timepieces are in the $650 range.
After a while you’ll start to appreciate just how much character the Lumzilla watch has while still being a functional watch. Get ready for something large and in charge, with a good polish, and a fair price for what will prove to be a hard to get item.