How Laco became the Wilson to my Chuck Noland
The sleepy Cotswold town of Tewkesbury is known for a couple things, it has a long-standing tradition as medieval market town and it's renowned for its mustard - even Shakespeare was a fan of Tewkesbury's condiments. For me as a Bristolian, it's the town I moved to for work back in November 2021. So, my knowledge of Tewkesbury didn't extend much past the fact that's where WatchGecko is based. But there is one more thing the town is known for - and that's flooding, something I have become intimately acquainted with...
The flooding isn't as bad as a quick google search makes it out to be - or so I have been told by locals, but last month shortly after Storm Franklin we were hit pretty hard. To paint you a mental picture I was practically stranded on my own little island for a good 3 weeks and what little bit of solid ground was left was being taken over by pheasants, ducks and geese. The Venice-ification of my home did bring about some new challenges, and how to get to work was definitely one of them.
But it also seemed like a good time to test out a new watch of mine, a Laco Himalaya, to see how it copes traversing through Gloucestershire's new Bayou. So, as I broke in my new waders, this watch accompanied me on my varied forms of transport to the office. This included an amphibious car that looks like something from that late 60's show 'Banana Splits' (an eBay-find that gave up the ghost within 5 minutes), a fold up battery-powered boat lent to us by our local Pub, with a weight limit up to 3 people (or 2 people and 10 bottles of wine as I found out), and a small tractor to carry the said battery and wine.
The Tewkesbury Trials
My first test for the Laco was to see how it handled being submerged in muddy water "as thick as Tewkesbury mustard" - as Shakespeare quoted in Henry VI, probably in this context too. So, as I pulled the boat out deeper into the water, trudging through the accumulated mess washed in from nearby fields I let the Himalaya have a good soak on every trip. Safe to say I was impressed; it was still ticking.
The watch is capable to 30ATM, so water resistance didn't worry me here. I was more interested to see how it dealt with the murkiness of the water - would sediment get under the bezel or in through the crown? What are the seals like? I found no faults. The bezels still turns with a satisfying click and the crowns still rotate as smoothly as it did fresh out of the box. I didn't manage to test out the bracelet here, as I had the Laco strapped over my waders, so swapping the bracelet out for a NATO was the ideal combination here.
The Laco I picked is part of the Squad collection, which includes a variety of vibrant dial hands and marking colours - I chose to go with the subtler Himalaya however, with plainer white markings but with a striking, orange-accented minute hand. The dial uses a few different font styles, but they all work to make the dial look cohesive. There's a mix of Arabic numerals and markers and bold sword shaped hands, contrasted by a lollipop seconds-hand. I found these details to contrast beautifully against the sparse matt black dial, with the orange minute hand giving the design just enough edge to stand out, without feeling obnoxious. The bold hands and hour markers really pop and make reading the time in low light pretty easy.
That being said, the lume also impressed me. On the evening of day 5 of island living, I had my first of many power cuts. A goose had flown straight into the overhead powerlines. I didn't see it happen, but it's what I pieced together as I watched a fox half-its-size dragging the goose away the following morning, while on the phone to Western Power. Engineers showed up not long after in a bright yellow helicopter, seeming a little lost but they got there in the end following the general direction gestured by my dad (pictured below).
If you're still reading, my long-winded point is that the lume stayed bright for most of the night, clear and legible and lasting longer than my phone's torch could ever hope for. After about 6 hours it noticeably faded, but still lasting longer than I realistically ever need it to.
Now back to the watch itself. I found the overall design and materials of the Laco Himalaya to be robust and durable. I can't say I was particularly gentle with it; I did drop it a few times attempting to strap it over my rubbery wrist. I also knocked it about the boat while trying to steer with one oar, on the occasions when the battery motor ran out of juice. It even survived the ride of its life while taking the little tractor out, the vibrations were enough to numb my hand, so it probably did a number on the movement too - or so I thought, the Laco held up no problem.
A bit more on the case
The 42mm case is made from brushed stainless steel and features a domed sapphire crystal, nothing out of the ordinary here. The 120-click unidirectional ceramic bezel features Super-LumiNova ® markers and feels tactile with deep tooth-edges for a reassuring grip. Overall, the design feels pretty utilitarian, clean and precise like you'd expect from a German watch brand like Laco. Where you do get a bit of unconventionality injected is on the caseback.
Turn the Himalaya over and you'll find a detailed engraving of a scorpion - tying the collection to Laco's more general outdoor 'Scorpion' series. It's a very cool addition and adds to the general badass-ery of the watch, and since it covers an ordinary but still popular ETA 2824-2 Elaboré movement, I'm glad they went with a strong, commanding motif over a display caseback here.
Some thoughts on the bracelet
Although I mostly wore my Laco Himalaya on a replacement NATO strap, I did try out the original supplied steel bracelet. I rarely wear bracelet watches, especially when outdoors. But I found the supplied brushed steel bracelet really balanced out the weight of the watch, as the case itself can feel pretty hefty at times. The clasp has a solid click when fastening that feels secure and features the Laco 'L' on the fold-down flip lock. The bracelet is a fine watch strap, but I did feel the sporty look of the Himalaya called more for a NATO or rubber strap option - black of course, but an orange rubber strap to match the minute hand wouldn't go a miss either.
All in all, while the novelty of my boat rides as a fun way to get to work wore off relatively quick, I very much enjoyed having the Laco Squad Himalaya with me during this trying period. I felt the watch was a reliable number two to accompany me on my little excursions and I found myself staring at the watch face whenever it so much as crossed into my peripheral, with a smile. The robust design meant I didn't have to be consciously precious about it and could just go about my day as clumsily or recklessly as I liked. Perhaps I would have preferred a slightly smaller case, a 40mm over the 42mm, though the size really isn't a deal breaker. The proportions and dimensions work well with its height, so the Himalaya felt right at home on my wrist and will definitely be staying there a while longer.