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 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.
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.
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.