The Real Orange Glow: LUM-TEC M3 Watch Review

The Real Orange Glow: LUM-TEC M3 Watch Review

The Real Orange Glow: LUM-TEC M3 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The new LUM-TEC M3 watch glows orange during the day with its fantasy orange hue that scream "this is what time it is!" A character trait which I love in a watch. Under cover of darkness, LUM-TEC's special MDV (maximum darkness visibility) technology keeps its proprietary luminant glowing at an eerie ectoplasmic green that seems to come from some internal power source. It doesn't, and LUM-TEC really hit a home run with this stuff. What is so cool, is that they can seemingly make the dial colors vary and still keep the same bright lume with full effect underneath. The impressive 6 layered lume on LUM-TEC watches is a key attraction point for all the company's watches, and I'll tell you it is really nice to have.

LUM-TEC is a newcomer in the watch game, but from people with experience and a real inner excitement for watches. These days it is relatively easy to throw together a watch brand, but much harder to do so with a special technology that only you possess. Equally as important, LUM-TEC is a homegrown US company hailing from Mentor Ohio. Its nice to see that watch enthusiasm in American is getting entrepreneurial again. We've been sorely needing some better affordable US options aside from Fossil, Timex, and Movado. The advent of LUM-TEC hails the advent of a new breed of more boutique, enthusiast operated watch makers in the United States, which an emphasis on interaction with their customers.

The Real Orange Glow: LUM-TEC M3 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The first line from LUM-TEC are the M series of watches, the pictured model being the M3, which sits right in the middle of the line (M1-M5 being available). Each of the M series watches are limited with a 150 M3 models only. It is pretty cool having one of such a limited run. Most of the time when you own a product, you are one of millions of owners. With watches like this, you can feel a bit more special. The M3 possesses a highly polished 316L grade case (44mm wide), and the orange glow hands and hour indexes. Other models are available with green or stealth dial colors, and with a PVD coated case. The M3 comes in with a $315 retail price which you wouldn't guess if someone just handed you the watch. My experienced eyes would probably guess a price at least twice that, especially given all the goodies you get with it. On that note you get a quality display box worthy of Swiss and German competitors, an easy-change heavy duty leather strap, and a high polished stainless steel bracelet. Also, and while this might seem trivial (it is not though), LUM-TEC watches comes with a well detailed instruction sheet (as well as warranty card, etc...). This is very important as it displays a level of commitment to the user and acknowledgment that they are purchasing not only an accessory, but a tool meant to be used.

The LUM-TEC M3 borrows from a lot of classic and popular designs. You can see a lot of Panerai and Bell & Ross BR-01 in the dial and case. Classic Panerai PAM watches especially. You also see a little Hamilton Below Zero in the lug design, and of course an essence of classic aviator watch in the hands. Despite having a friendly reminder of these above mentioned influences, the design of the M3 is completely independent, standing on its own, without the possibility of confusion from a trained eye.

The Real Orange Glow: LUM-TEC M3 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Taking from all these legendary watch designs, the M3 draws upon a deeper level of mental association which I like to think of as a form of nostalgia. The M3 reminds me of the countless early mid 20th century flights and military missions I was of course never a part of, but probably had participants using similarly styled instruments; so somehow I feel closer to them. There is a degree of fantasy in the watch, an active reminder of machinist history and functional elegance. Its nice that such a wrist piece can be so emotional, and yet so affordable.

As a watch, the LUM-TEC M3 performs without fault. The quartz movement does its job without hesitation, and the included functions are useful. While the dial layout may suggest a 12 hour chronograph, this is actually a 30 minute chronograph with a synchronized 24 hours hand (useful for telling the difference between AM and PM). Owning this watch, you'll really be using the time telling function the most. The movement inside is not best suited for consistent chronograph usage. But if you are looking for a watch first, and a chronograph second, the M3 will suit you. Also included is an easy set date function. I like that the crown is screw-down, which adds a significant feeling of value to the watch. Legibility is good, and the view into the dial is clear thanks to the anti-reflective coating on both the top and bottom of the sapphire crystal.

The Real Orange Glow: LUM-TEC M3 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

You'll either love or hate the design, but you can't dispute that it is bold. What you will like is all the goodies that come with this LUM-TEC watch. The box and leather case are unexpected for the price point, and are nice touches. Even better is the easy to follow documentation that I mentioned previously. Another plus is something I almost missed finding in the large case; LUM-TEC also includes a high-polish steel bracelet (24mm wide), along with the black leather with orange stitching strap. Thus you have two options when wearing the watch. What I like about the strap is the included easy change pins making it really easy to take the strap on and off. The package was smart enough to include normal links for the bracelet. No changing tool, but I have plenty of my own. I would have liked the leather strap to be make from a slightly more pliable leather, though it is rugged feeling, and looks fine. The Panerai-esque buckle is another highly polished piece of steel and has a deeply engraved LUM-TEC signature.

For the money, the LUM-TEC M3 is an excellent buy. I get more comments on my M3 than I do on many other, much more expensive watches; simply because it stands out and has a very unique presence to it. The included items in the packaging, AR coated sapphire crystal over the dial, high visibility lume, and impressive case polish are all items you'd never expect, and are happy to have for this kind of value. The M3 should be the first in a line of nice, wearable watch from LUM-TEC.

See the M3 and other watches direct at LUM-TEC here.

See LUM-TEC watches on eBay here.

The Real Orange Glow: LUM-TEC M3 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
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  • justin

    Your original post on LUM-TEC prompted me to get an M5, and I love it. By the way, keep wearing that leather strap; it’ll loosen up!


  • Hi Justin,
    Glad you like the M5, I hear that there are only a few of them left, and I am thrilled that the LUM-TEC watches are so popular. I keep switching between the metal bracelet and leather strap, as they are both really comfortable for me. Thanks for the comment and keep reading!

  • Gary

    Just ordered an M3 based on your review.

  • Gary,
    Great to hear! Was there something specific that read that swayed your decision to buy the M3?

  • Travis

    I just received my M3 yesterday and I love it!! This is a great watch.

  • Gordon

    Nice review. I’ve not long recieved my M4 and really like it. The lume and general attention to detail is excellent! A very wearable and distinctive watch.

  • Dave

    I love my B-1 combat. this thing is bada$$. Excellent watches. I’m already on the waiting list for the new models, that Bull45 looks very promising.

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  • In Europe we call such people “bright americans brains”. Wiegand Custom Watch, LLC. is company with a great human potential and it brights :).

    We are the Europe distributor of Lum Tec and recieve positive reactions from European customers as well.

    How do you – US guys do that ? 😉

    • Hi Robert,
      Nice to hear from you. Well there is still some ingenuity left in us Americans. We like our machines, and we like them precise, which is probably why it costs so much to get stuff made in America 🙂 So tell me more about the specific reactions from the European customers when they learn the LUM-TEC watches are American.

  • If I can generally say first reaction when customers find out it is an american brand is ” where are the watches make”. I think most of the customers accepts reality that parts are not produced directly in USA. Actually it is common for most of the other things as well.
    Watches are designed and tested in USA so it is a promis of a great quality and on the other hand customers have good experiences with US products in general so that helps a lot also. 🙂

  • Kenneth Cooke

    Just got mine (M1) and all I can say is wow! The attention to detail is amazing. There are no smudges inside the crystal like the Vostok Europe watches I’ve ordered. The hands line up properly and there is not a speck of dust inside the perfect sapphire crystal. I’m afraid to use the SS band except for special occasions because I don’t want to get scratches on it. I am truly amazed, this is a lot of watch for the money! I will definitely be getting anther one.

    • Hi Kenneth,
      Really nice to hear your thoughts. Nothing is more disappointing than getting a watch only to discover quality issues. I’ve never heard of any quality issues with LUM-TEC, and am glad that you can confirm your positive experience. I know that LUM-TEC watches are each assembled in America, and have been personally reassured of their dedication to quality. They want nothing sub par going out to customers. This of course is not the case with all watches, but I feel good about trusting LUM-TEC.

  • Cory

    Anybody want to sell there M-3?? I know there are limited produced, but anybody know where I can purchase one???

    • Hi Cory,
      If I find out about an M-3 watch for sale, I will let you know. Take care and thanks for commenting.

    • Jeff

      Cory I have a M-3 that I would concider selling if you are interested and it is #155 and have all the paperwork on it as well.

  • I have just received used M4 with PVD coating. It looks brand new and so far I prefer metal bracelet until I get PVD coated butterfly clasp for my leather band. I’m currently waiting for M14 which most likely will be available in 3-4 months. What I really wish all M series included instead of 24 hour synchronized hand, 1/10 chronograph. I guess there is always room for improvement 🙂

    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for the comment. LUM-TEC will feature a number of different movements in the future, so I have a feeling you wish [will be] granted eventually. Good point though, and I am sure that LUM-TEC will explore possible movements. Take care.

  • As soon as I receive butterfly clasp for the leather band and install in on my M4 I will share the photos. By the way, when I’m holding on to the rail on the New York City subway and wearing my M4 I can sense eyes beaming right at it. So far I haven’t had that feeling with any of my previous watches. Is it real, or am I just so much in love with my LÃœM-TEC?

  • matt

    That watch is stunning. I would love to buy an M3. Very difficult to find anyone to part with theirs. However, I am willing to pay over MSRP for one in perfect condition.

    • Jeff

      Matt I have a Lum-Tec M-3 Chronograph #155 that I might consider getting rid of if you are interested and for the right price, it is in excellent pristine condition. My E-mail is:

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  • tcr

    Just ordered a M19 and M9 based on your review. It will be interesting to see how accurate and durable the auto movement M19 is over the years. Can’t wait to get them on the wrist.

    • Cool! Thanks for letting me know.

  • BobM

    Great watch for the price in the 2008 blog entry. Unfortunately, they now go for $600 to 800. Not so attractive at that price. Over 100% increase in one year!?

    • Prices are up, but so is quality, components and image. You still get what you pay for with the brand. I am sure a few of the older models are floating around.

  • General question for users. I wanted to know if the brightness holds on its own like Tritium or if it dies as light doesn’t hit the face. I am getting a Lumzilla anyway, but just wondered on people who have worn one.

  • tom McC

    Can anyone tell me whre to buy a bracelet changing tool for the Lum-Tec line?

    • Go ahead and ask LUM-TEC via their website. They have great customer service.

  • Pirate Football

    I’m new to the watch game and I just got an M12 and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a great looking watch, 3 different bands, but the best part is the customer service. They answer my questions same-day and I actually got an email from the president of the company answering my question. These guys are as dedicated to their customers as they are their watches.