Where do I even begin to discuss the M33? When I first saw the Lüm-Tec M33, lurking in a watch forum somewhere, I immediately knew that I had discovered something special. When browsing watch sites and forums one tends to see similar trends played out in only a handful of ways, but the M33 really stood out as a unique take on the phantom watch. At the time, I had not heard of Lüm-Tec, and upon surface digging about the brand, I was amazed at what I saw. A small and relatively young Ohio based brand dedicated to affordable and unique limited edition watches built with the highest standards. A brand that posts designs on forums, takes feedback directly from consumers, and tweaks their designs accordingly. A watch brand that, in ways, embodies what we here at W&W believe watches are about: style, quality and value. So, I knew this was a watch I needed to add to my collection.
Case: 316L Stainless Steel with Titanium Carbide dark charcoal PVD hard coating
Movement: Miyota OS20 Quartz Chronograph w/ date and 24hr dial
Dial: Matte charcoal gray w/ black index and MDV Lume
Lens: Double sided AR sapphire
Case Back: screwdown 316L Stainless steel
Strap: Black Genunine leather, Black rubber and PVD 316L Steel
Water Res.: 10atm (100m/330ft)
Crown: Screwdown with double diamond sealing system
Lug Width: 24mm
Warranty: 1 year limited warranty, lifetime battery replacement
Even before you see the watch, the M33 leaves a lasting impression. First, there is the presentation of the boxes. The M33 arrives in a nice, clean branded white cardboard box that is simply the gift-wrapping for the black leather presentation box inside. Upon opening the presentation box you are presented with your watch as well as various documents: a hand filled-in international warranty card, the CEO’s business card, the owner’s manual and a sort of birth certificate. On either side of your watch are two compartments, which store the two alternate bands that are part of the package. To be honest… this was the first time I had received a watch from a brand that went to such extents, and it really gives the watch extra personalized charm. As a small apartment dweller, I try not to hold on to packaging, but the presentation case for the M33 is not only useful for storing all of its extras, it feels like it is part of the watch.
But enough about presentation and on to the watch! The first thing I noticed about the M33, and everyone else who has picked it up has noticed too, was its weight; it is deceptively heavily, but in a good way. The screw-down crown is 8mm in diameter, has a very nice ridged texture, and very smooth threading action, adding to the sturdiness of the body. The chrono pushers are stiff and take a proper amount of force to engage, which they do so with a satisfying click. The all-stainless body, the shape of which closely resembles the style of a certain luxury Italian brands save a few details, is coated with the darkest matte PVD I have seen and is genuinely a solid piece of metal. Basically, the watch feels like it is absolutely solid; drop proof, perhaps bullet proof (do not test that theory, thanks).
And then there is the face. Underneath an anti-reflective coated sapphire crystal is genuinely the most interesting phantom watch face I have seen. Unlike most brands that attempt a phantom by just making everything black, Lum-Tec went for a more intelligent combination of matte charcoal gray, matte black and their oh-so-vibrant MDV lume. What you get is a face that is dark and stealthy but very easily readable in any light condition. The numerals, which are in a font is reminiscent of the Blade Runner poster, and index markings are super crisp black that stand off of the gray face in normal to mid light. The date wheel, which white text on a black surface, is displayed through a small hole between the 4 and 5 positions. I happen to really like this simple style of showing the date; it is effective without disrupting the face. The sub-dials are stamped circles with a texture of fine concentric circles, which breaks up the otherwise flat gray nicely.
The hour and minute hands are lumed outlines of “roman swords”; they are extremely cool looking. During the day the slightly yellow color of the lume makes them pop off of the face, and at night they seem almost ethereal, like holograms projecting from the center axis of the watch. The hands of the three sub-dials are small, stout, coated in lume and glow nicely as well. The detail, however, that really draws my attention whenever I look at the face, is the seemingly simple lume markers at the twelve hour positions. Head on they might seem like flat dots, nothing special, but that is wrong. These markers are actually half-spheres that stand off of the surface. The dimensionality of these dots makes them project light more effectively as they are viewable from many angles. They are also just really neat looking and a detail I have not seen before that reminds me of a heli-pad at night.
What is so cool about M33’s use of MDV lume, which is a proprietary 8-layer application of superluminova, is that watch seems to have two faces in one: a day face and a night face. The day face is all business in a dark pallet. The information is extremely clear and readable at a glance. At night, the numbers and index markings fade away and the watch becomes this abstract tract of glowing orbs and hands. Though still easy to read, the watch becomes infinitely more mysterious and intriguing when the face drops away and all that is left are the glowing outer markings, the sub-dial hands and the ultra-thin outlines of the minute and hour hands.
The M33 also comes with 3 straps standard for its 24mm lugs. 3! As someone who is rarely satisfied with the straps that come stock with watches, and changes the straps on his watches very regularly to suit different moods, I was very excited about this.