July 11, 2011
by Ariel Adams
Some people call it “LUM-TEC’s best watch yet.” This is the LUM-TEC M26 limited edition watch. Out of the M collection it sports an automatic movement with a power reserve indicator and a solid tungsten carbide case. With a mirror finish and heavy weight – this is one hell of a watch.
This is also likely one of the most high-end LUM-TEC watches to date. With a retail price of almost $2,000, this watch represents something that is an evolution on the original LUM-TEC watches that were priced in the $300 range. The original M series case is more or less unchanged. It is a sort of modern interpretation of the Panerai-esque cushion case with round dial. A design that has proved extremely popular over the last 110-15 years. The secret is in the large stature of the cushion case that maintains the legibility of a round dial. Rarely does a cushion shaped dial actually look good for a men’s watch.
The case is 44mm wide with wide set lugs so that the strap/bracelet is 24mm wide. Set for larger wrists, the watch is still comfortable and offers a very bold look. This watch is noticeably heavier than a standard steel watch. This is especially the case with the tungsten bracelet in place. LUM-TEC offers the M26 also with two straps in addition to the tungsten bracelet. These are a black shell cordovan leather strap and a custom black rubber strap. While it looks pretty killer on the bracelet, you might opt for one of the straps given the weight of the watch. I don’t actually mind the weight, but it makes a different if the bracelet isn’t sized tightly enough.
Tungsten is an interesting material. I am not an expert on it, but what I can say is that it has a few good properties. Tungsten has a darker finish than steel. Think mirror-polished gun metal (maybe a bit lighter). The mirror finish of tungsten is one of its more interesting qualities. Because of its dark color, it is often used for men’s as opposed to women’s jewelry a lot of the time. More importantly, Tungsten is very hard and scratch-resistant. Perhaps not quite as scratch-resistant as ceramic, but up there.
LUM-TEC designed the M26 with a rather legible dial. The sunray polished metallic blue dial is interesting and seems to change colors in the light. I am quite fond of the modern, legible style of the dial. I like the numerals and LUM-TEC’s MDV in-house lume is always a high point. It is applied to the hands and all the Arabic numerals. My only issue with the dial is that the hands are begging (begging) to be longer. The dial feels very technical and modern – something that LUM-TEC is rather adept at achieving.
For the movement LUM-TEC chose to use an interesting caliber. It is the Soprod 9040 automatic. The movement has the time and a power reserve indicator. I love power reserve indicators and feel that LUM-TEC integrated it rather nicely. The preservation of dial symmetry is important to me. I think the date would have been nice, but not a large issue. The movement is nicely decorate with perlage and can be seen though the crystal display back.
The watch uses an AR coated sapphire crystal and I like the nice clarity when reading the dial. The case is water resistant to 100 meters and feels solid. You’ll get a kick out of the really large crown with the LUM-TEC logo done in relief. LUM-TEC makes a healthy assortment of watches and each is part of a limited edition. For me this is one nice collectible (and wearable) American brand. The M26 was made as a limited edition of just 50 pieces and retails for $1,895. You can get one on LUM-TEC’s website here.Thanks to LUM-TEC for the review unit. Opinions are 100% independent.