Lüm-Tec, without fail, delivers some of the most intense new watches every year. Unique, masculine and tough-as-nails, their watches have a character all to their own. We’ve taken a look at several different models over the last couple of years, including the M33, Combat and V series and are always left impressed. When we saw an early preview drawing of the 300M series, we were particularly excited by it. Not just because it is cool looking, and a bit different than other watches in their line, but also because it was available in two sizes, 40 and 45mm.
With tons of large watches flooding the market at any given moment, a 40mm tool diver stands out. The 300M series is available in a total of 4 models comprised of 2 sizes in either steel or PVD. Today, we’ll take a look at the 300M-2, which is the PVD 40mm version. Featuring a sapphire crystal and bezel, 2 straps, 300M water resistance and a Seiko Sii NH35 movement, this is the kind of over-built diver you’d expect from Lüm-Tec.
Case: PVD Steel
Movement: Seiko NH35
Lume: Yes, 2-tone
Strap: PVD Bracelet + Rubber
Water Res.: 300M
Dimensions: 40 x 48.75mm
Thickness: 14.75 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 6 x 4 mm screw down
Weight Bracelet: 7.5oz / 214g
Weight Rubber: 4.1oz / 117g
Warranty: 1 Years w/ lifetime timing adjustments
The 300M-2 immediately impresses with its solid feel and heft. The 40 x 48.5 x 14.75mm PVD steel case is built like a rock and despite being on the smaller side for a modern diver has a commanding presence. The case has a bold geometric design with long, wide, angular lugs and a cylindrical center case. Looking at the watch from above, the design is dominated by the sapphire insert bezel, which actually measures a drop wider than 40mm. At 3 is a moderately sized 6 x 4mm screw down crown that is flanked by angular crown guards.
The bezel is fairly tall, about 4mm, with wide grips running along the side, making it easy to grasp and turn. The 60-click unidirectional mechanism is of extremely good quality. It feels rigid and clicks with a very satisfying and precise snap. Flipping the watch over, you can see the screw down case back, which is does not have PVD coating. On the case back is a deep etching of the Lüm-Tec LT logo in the center encircled by various details. The case back is particularly thick on the 300M, appearing like a vault door of some kind.
The PVD on the case is deep black and is applied over a satin brushed finished. This gives the watch a slight sheen that works well with the design. There is an interesting detail on the outer edge of the lugs. Each has been beveled slightly, creating a flared flat surface along the edge. This surface has then been polished, giving the PVD a different look. It’s a nice decorative touch also gives the watch a bit a sharper and more aggressive look.
The real outstanding feature of the case is simply the build quality. It has a very solid feel that combined with the general heft of the watch is confidence inducing. I think the 40mm design adds to this as the watch literally is more compact than your typical modern tool diver, which tends to be at least 42mm in diameter. The AR coated sapphire crystal and sapphire bezel also help to create a durable package.
Lüm-Tec has a distinct bold aesthetic that they have been fine-tuning over the last few years. Their dials are usually fairly simple, with oversized markers and a contemporary sporty aesthetic. With the 300M, they’ve continued and refined this style on what I think is one of their most successful dials yet. The dial of the 300M consists of two layers, plus arguably the bezel. The lowest layer, the main dial, is matte black with a single index of bold symbols. At 3, 6 and 9 there are pyramid or arrow shaped markers with small cutouts, giving them a sense of directionality. At 12 is a larger numeral and the other markers are all large trapezoid that taper towards the center of the dial.
The markers themselves, which are all lumed, (more on that later) appear to be applied rather than printed. Whether they are just thickly applied or molded is hard to tell, but the visual result is that they have extremely crisp edges. There is a bit of text on the main dial area. Just below 12 is a Lüm-Tec logo in dark red and “MDV Technology” in dark grey. Just above 6 says 300M and automatic also in dark red and grey. Both of these colors are actually so dark that at a glance they can be ignored entirely. Given the intensity of the surrounding markers, this was a good choice at the dial would have quickly gotten too busy. Lastly, between 4 and 5 is a window for the date, which is presented as white text on a black surface.
The next layer of the dial is the chapter ring, which sits a couple of millimeters above the main dial, creating a great sense of depth. On this raised ring is a simple index of lumed squares and dark grey lines. The squares line up with the markers below, creating some continuity between the surfaces. One very cool effect of the height of this chapter ring is that it is almost level with the seconds hand. Where as normally, the seconds hand hovers above the markers, here it feels as though it points directly at the markers.
The last portion of the dial isn’t really part of the dial, it’s the bezel, but since its graphic elements integrate with the dial, it’s worth discussing at the same time. The bezel insert actually contrasts the style of the inner dial a bit, by having a slight retro aesthetic. The index consists of numerals for 15, 30 and 45 with a large dot for 60/0. There are then rectangles every 5 minutes, and a small lined for each minute up to 15. This sort of quarterly index is reminiscent of bezels from early dive watches. The contrast between the contemporary dial and the retro bezel is quite nice. They sort of balance each other out, so the watch neither feels too modern nor like a throwback.
The hour and minute hands of the 300M are matte black roman swords with lume filling. They did an interesting thing here where they split the filling half way up each hand, creating a more unique design. The seconds hand is a thin lollipop style with a red lumed filled circle towards the tip. The use of red here is a nice touch as there is otherwise very little color, during the day, at least.
They don’t call it Lüm-Tec for nothing. With their MDV (Maximum Darkness Visibility) technology, and the name of the brand itself, they clearly set a high bar for their glowing capabilities and the 300M lives up to expectations. During the day, the markers all appear to be a pale green color. At night, however, the lume reveals that it is two toned, green and blue, creating a very exciting and dynamic play of colors. The large twelve and the pyramid shaped markers are all green while the trapezoids between are bright blue. Similarly, on the bezel the numerals and large dot are green and the markers between are blue. The hands and the chapter ring are just green.
The lume is super bright, charges fast and lasts a while. I noticed the watch glowing brightly even after briefly being outside and coming back into a building corridor. The two-tone lume is beautiful and not only makes things more exciting; it functionally helps distinguish between markers at glance even more easily. Though I stay above sea level, I could imagine that two-tone lume would be advantageous under water.
Movement: Sii NH35
The 300M-2 is powered by the Seiko manufactured NH35 movement. This 24-jewel automatic features hand winding, hacking seconds, date and a frequency of 21,600 BPH. This is a well-liked and robust automatic, though it seems not to be used as commonly as similar Miyota automatics. Lüm-Tec themselves seem to switch back and forth between the two. Whether this is a preference or sourcing issue is un-clear. While the movement functions properly, keeps great time, etc… one does usually find this movement in less expensive watches. In the end, quality is what matters and this is a good movement, but it’s worth mentioning. Also, Lüm-Tec does supply lifetime timing adjustments on their mechanical watches, should things get out of whack.
Straps and Wearability
The 300M-2 comes with two straps; a PVD steel bracelet and a molded rubber strap. The steel bracelet, which comes already mounted to the watch, is really spectacular albeit very difficult to get off of the watch. It has a classic 3-link/oyster design, but the links are oval shaped rather than flat. This gives the bracelet a bit of a scaled look, as light and shadow play differently on the contoured surface. The round shape also makes the bracelet a bit more comfortable than a flat design as the links are not flush to your skin. Aesthetically, the bracelet works very well with the watch itself, increasing the ruggedness of the design.
Perhaps the best feature of the bracelet is actually the clasp, which is a larger than average rectangle with an “LT” logo. What makes this clasp special is that it has a fantastic ratcheting diver extension built in. There are two sets of buttons along side of the clasp, two open it up and two activate the extension. By simply pressing the buttons, you can extend the bracelet by nearly 2 links. What’s great about it is that you can actually size it in much smaller increments, about 2mm per, as well. So, during the day, when you’ve been sweating and the bracelet suddenly feels tight, you can adjust it slightly to be more comfortable.
The rubber strap is a fairly thick molded dark grey rubber. There is a gridded pattern along with a Lüm-Tec logo molded into the topside of each side of the strap. The underside is then actually hollowed out, presumably to create an area for moisture to get away from the skin. Overall, it’s a pretty comfortable strap, though it has that kind of stickiness that rubber straps tend to have. Regardless, it’s a great alternate strap to have as a change from the bracelet. It maintains the sportiness of the watch, and makes it a bit lighter too.
On the wrist the 300M-2 has terrific presence and is perhaps the most wearable modern tool diver I’ve encountered. The smaller case design is a real winner in terms of ergonomics and fit, especially on a somewhat smaller wrist. That being said, I think it is still massive enough to fit larger wrists. The watch looks fierce, particularly on the bracelet, with a sporty demeanor that beckons to be used in an active environment. Aesthetically, this isn’t for people who want something subtle. The large markers standout and the long angular lugs look like they could take a bullet. In fact, in PVD the watch has a bit of a tactical/military vibe that makes it all the more aggressive looking.
There is a lot to like about the 300M-2, from the build quality to the aesthetic, but the size, simple as that is, is what makes this a real winner. I know I’m not alone by feeling disappointed when I see a new tool diver come out with awesome looks only to find out its 47mm wide. Huge watches simply can’t be worn by everyone, and there is something very appealing about the compactness of smaller watches. That being said, the 300M-2 is hardly small in the scheme of things, and certainly doesn’t act small. It’s a chunky, mean-looking tool diver that is anything but petite.
Apart from the size, the amazing lume, sapphire crystal and bezel, awesome bracelet and workhorse Seiko movement make this an all-around great watch. At $895 this is not inexpensive, and is actually a bit more money than many competing brands’ watches. While the value proposition is still very good for a watch under $1,000, whether the watch is worth it is really up to you. In my honest opinion, if you like the aesthetic and features this is a watch you will really enjoy.
By Zach Weiss
review unit supplied by Lüm-Tec Watches