Watches

We trialled the Luminox watch worn by the US Navy Seals

Luminox is the Seals' official watch and the latest version is the Navy Seal 3600 series – here's what it's like on the wrist...

We’ve encountered plenty of “tool watches” over the years that suffer from a major drawback: for all their built-for-adventure credentials, the lume is vanishingly faint soon after sundown. You could not level that allegation at a Luminox. Over the past two weeks, we have been trying out the brand’s newly released Navy Seals 3600 series – and whenever we woke up in the dead of night, the watch’s hands and hour markers were beaming brightly from the nightstand.

The “always visible” dial has become the brand's core motif (just look at the name: lumi is Latin for light, nox Latin for night) and is achieved by marking it out with tiny glass tubes. These are filled with tritium gas and lined with phosphorescent powder that glows as the tritium releases electrons. Unlike conventional lume, this doesn’t require any charging from a light source; instead, the gas tubes offer a constant, steady radiance for up to 25 years.

This feature is what first brought Luminox to the attention of the military. In 1992, the US Navy Seals’ procurement officer approached the brand to create dive watches for their night missions, and Luminox duly supplied gas tube-laced timepieces designed to withstand the hard knocks of military service. Other departments of the armed forces decided to follow suit: Luminox has now supplied watches to everyone from US Air Force F-117 Nighthawk stealth pilots to Special Military Forces Israel and the Austrian Military Police. Yet it’s that original collaboration with the Seals that put Luminox on the map – a relationship formalised in 2016 when the Seals made Luminox their official watch licensee – so new Seal series watches are of special interest to its audience.

Made in Switzerland, like all of Luminox’s creations, the new 3600 family is water resistant to 200m and comes in three different colourways: blue dial with orange strap; all green; and all black. GQ has been road testing the latter, the rubber-strapped XS.3601, which has a hard-as-nails demeanour. The 45mm case comes in a stealthy matte finish, a natural feature of the material from which it was fashioned: Luminox’s proprietary “Carbonox” carbon compound, which offers the further benefits of strength and resistance to temperature change. It has a muscular build and a depth of 14mm – be under no illusions, this is a big watch, albeit a light one – but that’s the point: you get the impression that it could survive being run over by a tank.

© AFT4

There are grace notes, however, that find pizzazz in the ruggedness. The dial has been engraved in a light-catching teaked pattern and has yellow accents – also to be found on the unidirectional rotating bezel – which grab the eye. The 3600 Series also boasts a more minimalist look than previous generations, because the gas tubes are set vertically into the face, freeing up real estate on the dial. In other words, although you’re not exactly going to wear this watch with French cuffs, when you take it into the great outdoors you’re not going to feel like you left your style creds at home, either. Now that’s a “tool watch” we can get behind.

£459. luminox.com

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