The watch designed to help you survive.
First conceived in 1989, Luminox is a watch brand strongly associated with the world of Special Operations and outdoor survival in the most extreme conditions. In 1993 Luminox’s first, and still most recognisable watch was selected by the US Navy SEALs as standard equipment which in effect created a reputation overnight; such is the marketing impact of a high-profile military contract. Mention Luminox today and people still say, “isn’t that the US SEAL watch?” Their Navy SEAL model 3001 has since passed into the world of watch legend and is much sought after.
Luminox has capitalised on this popularity to drive many clever collaborations and marketing initiatives such as the high-performance 500m Deep Dive range with underwater explorer Scott Cassell and the development of the Luminox Special Operations Challenge where civilians can be trained for a day by ex-SEALs and take on a number of challenges inspired by the Special Forces selection process.
In 2020 their latest watch initiative was unveiled with a familiar face –Bear Grylls.
A new range of Luminox watches, inspired by the world of outdoor adventure and survival, is the result of a technical collaboration with Bear Grylls and first impressions from the marketing material look good. There are eight new models based on a LAND, SEA, and a “MASTER” Series. They all look impressive kit and should be well suited to a tough journey through a jungle or across the polar ice cap. On all the watches, somewhere in their design, is Bear’s trademark colour orange which can be seen on most of his other branded equipment such as the survival knives he designed with Gerber and his own brand of bamboo fiber clothing.
Except for the SEA series, the watches all have a complex look with multiple complications. The SEA 3720 is a more traditional diver style aiming for supreme legibility and a clear dial. Fashioned from a relatively new material Luminox has called CARBONOX the Bear Grylls special editions are extremely light. CARBONOX is advertised as being 6 times lighter than steel and 3 times lighter than titanium but just as strong. It is comfortable to wear and highly resistant to shocks, scratches, and temperate changes. With the explorer in mind it is also anti-magnetic.
There are two models of the 3720 which share a common design and different coloured bezels.
The case back has Bear’s mantra “Never Give Up” engraved on it and the SEA model also features it on the dial. Indeed, all the Bear Grylls Survival Collection watches display his logo on the case. In his own words: “Never Give Up is a vital attitude for survival in any conditions…. whether you make it out alive will largely come down to you – your attitude and your actions.”
There are four bi-compax style chronograph variants of the LAND models which have the level of attention, as survival tools, you would expect from this collaboration. A large size for visibility with 45mm CARBONOX cases topped off with 550-650 Vickers mineral crystal, water resistance to 200 meters and chronographs for calculating walking speed, and distance covered, with a special bezel. All LAND models are available with the calculations in either miles or kilometres (but not both) so check carefully before buying! Two of the watches come with rubber bands and a handy micro-compass which fits onto the strap. With the compass and the distance/speed calculation function, navigation has just become a lot easier if all you have is a watch!
Two alternative models also come in the same watch spec, but have a strap made from para-cord. If you do not know what para-cord is have a look online, suffice to say it has been a staple ingredient of a good survival kit for many years. It is incredibly useful – just be patient when knotting it back together again…
Finally, there is the Master series which is the most complex of them all and most expensive. These two models come with a black or orange strap and have a detachable compass like the Land models but come additionally with sapphire crystal glass, a full 3-dial chronograph function and are 300m water resistance rated.
We are taking a first look at these products as Bear Grylls equipment, but it is important to remember they are first and foremost Luminox watches so they come as standard with Luminox Light Technology which ensures at-a-glance visibility. Like other military heritage brands which employ such technology, the tritium vials in a Luminox provide multi-coloured glow 24/7, no matter what the conditions are, for up to 25 years. This offers a huge advantage over watches which deploy luminescent paint that works better when charged by a light source and eventually fades, or “push to light” systems which are battery draining.
The new Bear Grylls Luminox range starts at £429 for the Sea series, around £569-£615 for the Land series depending on model and £849 for the Master series. Full details can be found on the Luminox UK website.
A personal perspective
It would be easy to see these watches as branded kit for Bear Grylls fans but that could not be further from the truth. These are serious outdoor watches which have been co-created by one of the great survival personalities of our time and carry the pedigree of a man who has spent time in 21 SAS. This is a great partnership – one which the professional users of the legendary 3001 would certainly approve of.
Many thanks to Gemma at Luminox UK for the initial material on the new watches and we look forward hopefully to getting some hands-on time with one soon for a thorough WatchGecko review.
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