If you are of a certain age and happen to have frequented Sharper Image stores in malls across America (and, I presume, the world), you may recall that Luminox watches were prominently featured in the famed multi-category concept stores. Sharper Image was all about carrying high-tech tools, modern gadgets, and a litany of gifts for men and women suitable for everything from cooking to comfort. One of the products the store carried was the “Navy SEAL wristwatch” by Luminox, which offered the promise of military functionality and durability, along with the sex appeal of a highly trained commando. While this new Original Navy Seal EVO 3001 watch isn’t exactly what you would have been able to purchase back then, this “homage” watch to the original Luminox 3001 watches is a new release by the brand that hearkens back to the “timepiece that started it all” back in 1994.
Since then, Luminox has blossomed beyond a timepiece that bore an officially licensed United States Navy SEALs logo. The original watches were developed in collaboration with Navy SEALs in response to what they said they wanted in a wristwatch. These are, indeed, evolutions on historic military timepieces and felt rather modern at the time during the mid-1990s. The core Luminox theme has endured well, as have the handful of other brands that feature military style and include self-illuminating Swiss tritium gas tubes as luminant in the hands and hour markers.
When asking the Navy SEALs what they wanted, the wish list made sense given their activities. Note that a range of other watches has come out since those from Luminox that were done as a collaboration with the elite military unit — but none that I know are still as affordable as those produced by Luminox. The soldiers first and foremost wanted a durable, lightweight, and stealthy carbon watch. (Luminox calls its carbon can material “Carbonox.”) This is why the matte-black colors of the piece are particularly prominent. Use of the tritium gas tubes is valued by soldiers because it means the watch doesn’t need to be charged in light to be visible in the dark.
Military watches are also typically a combination of field and diver’s watches. Accordingly, the legible field-watch style dial is mixed with a unidirectional rotating diver’s-style timing bezel, and the case is water-resistant to 200 meters. Over the dial is a hardened mineral crystal, which is supposed to be more scratch-resistant than a standard mineral crystal. Indeed, I would prefer a full sapphire crystal, but for rather esoteric reasons, some military watchmakers feel that sapphire crystal is too shatter-prone (it really isn’t) and prefer mineral crystal (that chips away more often than it shatters, if impacted). A small sapphire crystal is used over the tritium gas tube used in the pip located at the 60-minute mark on the rotating bezel.
For the dial accent colors, Luminox has always offered a range of hues aside from the traditional white. This particular version has cream-colored “old Radium” hues for the markers and hands. I like this tone a lot, as it is much more pleasant to the eyes than stark white. Also currently available in the Evo 3001/3003 is a blackout dial (more stealthy) and a blue one. The dial has both a 12- and 24-hour scale, as well as a date window. It’s not a revolutionary dial, and it is a bit narrow given the overall case size, but this timepiece shape and concept still work really well and feel like fantastic military pieces with just the right amount of style and substance.
At 43mm-wide, these are actually among Luminox’s smaller products, and these wear small given the flat steel back (the crown is also in steel), light weight, and relatively narrow dial-to-case diameter ratio. The case is about 12mm-thick and has a roughly 46mm (rather modest) lug-to-lug distance. Much of the perceived size is really related to the broad side flanks on the case (which can also act to absorb shock). Inside the watch is a Swiss Made Ronda 515 HH6 quartz movement. Most actual military applications prefer the accuracy of a battery-powered quartz movement to the romance and autonomy of an automatic mechanical one. Luminox does produce more than a few mechanical watches, but its bread and butter are still quartz pieces.
Attached to the case is a simple but comfortable tapering Luminox-branded black rubber strap. Many watches of this style have moved to silicone straps, which, for the most part, I do not prefer over high-grade rubber. So, it is good that Luminox continues to offer rubber straps. This watch would also look particularly good on a NATO-style strap, but note that it has an odd-sized 21mm-wide lug distance. One complaint I have is that Luminox did not coat the steel buckle in a black color to match the case. Accordingly, I think they should have colored the steel crown black, as well. These two black elements would have been more harmonious with the rest of the watch and not significantly added to the production cost.
As a daily wear sports or “beater” watch, the Luminox Original Navy SEAL Evo 3001 is a solid choice — in a market with a lot of solid choices. Luminox isn’t the cheapest or the least expensive but is priced on the high-premium side given the materials used. Luminox has a more recognizable brand than much of the competition, and often, people tend to like the more commercially interesting (as opposed to purely tactical or military) styling of some of the competition. I frequently work outside, hike, or otherwise do active things, and I find myself having picked up a lot of Luminox watches in the past for those purposes. It was no different with the Original Navy SEAL Evo 3001. Price, again, is a bit premium, but many would argue it is worth it. Retail price for the Luminox Original Navy SEAL Evo 3001 watch is $435 USD. Learn more or order at the Luminox watches website here.