While the trends seem to be turning back towards smaller watches (much to my pleasure) there will always be a place for big…nay, giant watches. Whether because you have wrists the size of tree trunks or just prefer the look and feel of big chunk of metal, there are plenty of options out there. Lüm-Tec is known for…well, their lume… but also for making some pretty sizable watches. Usually in the 43-45mm range, they are large, masculine and rugged.
With one of their newest lines, the Abyss 600M, they’ve gone for the blue ribbon of big watches with a whopping 48mm diameter. While I doubt that the 600M water resistance is really reliant on the size of the watch (there are plenty of small watches with high WR) it does perhaps give some purpose to the scale of this behemoth. Reasoning aside, despite the fact that I’d never personally wear a watch this big, it looked so cool that I had to get my hands on one.
Man, am I glad I did; this is a great looking watch. From the dial to the case to the strap, this watch exudes toughness. It’s harsh, it’s blunt, it’s kind of brutal. It looks like something that should come with warnings. This is the kind of watch you want to see splattered in mud, scratched and roughed up. Like a Land Rover Defender 90 or an old Ford Bronco, it seems like it would be a shame not to get it dirty. This is a watch you wear when you’re scared you might break a normal watch…your arm will probably come off before the Abyss falls apart.
Additionally, the Abyss has what you’d expect from Lüm-Tec. It’s got a sapphire crystal with double AR coating, MDV lume and a Miyota 9015 inside. Lüm-Tec also provides lifetime timing adjustments, which is pretty sweet. The Abyss will run you $825, which is about right in the scheme of their pricing.
Lüm-Tec Abyss 600M
Case: 316L Steel, Charcoal PVD
Movement: Miyota 9015
Water Res.: 600m
Dimensions: 48 x 59mm
Lug Width: 24mm
Crown: 11 x 3.6 mm
Warranty: 1 year
This case is really extreme. Measuring 48 x 59 x 14mm, it is quite literally a desk clock with a leather strap. That said, the design is very cool. The whole thing is bead blasted and coated with a charcoal grey Titanium Carbide PVD. We’ve seen this coating before on their Super Combat B2 and I love it. It’s very different from black or titanium grey; it’s warmer and bronzier. It almost seems like a patina or tarnishing, which goes well with the severe, ungainly geometry.
There are a couple of cool things Lüm-Tec did that make this design unique. First, they made the bezel, which is very wide at nearly 6mm, concave. The inverted channel looks and feels industrial. It’s a cool detail that one does not see often. In fact, the only other watch I know that is like this is the Heuer Silverstone. It has no particular function, though by milling out the curve, they did remove material and thus some of the mass and bulk. Ulitmately though, it’s just a nice touch.
They also added some faux-screws. The lugs protrude straight out of the case side, and have a flange coming out that runs along the case. Here they put a flat head screw detail, making it look like the lugs are bolted on. While I think they look cool and speak to the styling of the watch, I don’t really care for faked elements like this…it’s just cheesy. Similarly, on the lugs are hex bolts that appear as though they are part of a screw-bar, but in fact the watch uses standard spring bars. Looks good, should be real.
The last gnarly detail is the insanely huge screw down crown. Measuring a whopping 11 x 3.6mm, it’s crazy wide and quite flat. It’s the biggest crown I’ve ever seen by some margin. And, it looks awesome on the watch. Everything else is big and over built, why not the crown? It’s kind of a proper finishing touch to the design. My only issue with it is that unscrewed, it felt a little wobbly on the stem, like you could break it.
The fun doesn’t stop with the case. In fact, the dial might be the real winner here, and one of their best designs to date. It’s a sandwich design that takes some general cues from the Panerai’s that dominate the large watch market, but mixes it up with a military-stencil typeface that makes it utterly awesome. The primary index consists of huge 12, 3, 6 and 9 numerals in a blocky typeface that has large cross bars for a stencil effect. Between them are big rectangles for the other hours. They are all cut through a thick top layer, revealing pea green/khaki “old radium tone” lume underneath. Sandwich dials are so cool, but fairly uncommon. They add texture and depth in a way the feels very purposeful.
On the outer edge is a minutes/seconds index that has an intriguing execution. It only runs outside of the rectangular markers, and is printed on a layer below. It’s not lumed, and the index is almost a golden color that looks great with the “old radium” and titanium carbide PVD. Interestingly, the surface it is printed on is a glossy black, where as the main surface is matte.
The hands are fun as well. Both the hour and minute hands are skeletonized swords that are very wide. They have an even darker version of the “old radium” lume on them, making them appear very aged. The seconds hand is then a simple lollipop hand with lume covering about half of it. As one would expect, the lume is killer all around. The sheer amount of area that glows is impressive and as with all Lüm-Tecs, it glows exceptionally bright.
Straps and Wearability
The Abyss comes on the nicest leather strap I’ve seen from Lüm-Tec. It’s a matte brown nubuck that tapers from 24 to 21mm. It features a slightly darker brown stitch for contrast and a nice detail at the lug. There is an extra piece of leather that is sewn on that presumably creates the space for the spring bar. This gives it a military feel that plays well with those elements in the dial. The matte brown is the perfect color to go with the charcoal PVD as it brings out some of the warmer tones in the metal.
The strap is also quite comfortable. It’s supple and soft with absolutely no break-in time. Which is good, because the watch itself is very uncomfortable. As noted several times, it’s friggin’ huge. It doesn’t feel like a watch at all… more like a splint or a cast that restricts the motion of your wrist/hand (having broken my left wrist once when I was younger, I can speak to this from experience). That said, I have a smaller wrist at 7″, so this is not a watch for me. The 59mm lug-to-lug shoots right over both sides of my arm, while the 11mm crown digs into my hand fiercely. This would have been an appropriate watch to put the crown by 9. I think if your wrist in under 8″ with a wide top surface, this is unlikely to fit you.
But, I fully expected that. I didn’t ask to borrow this one because I wanted to wear it, but rather because I loved the design. And from that perspective, this is one of their most successful watches. It’s distinct, super manly and well styled. Despite the size, it also looks good with casual, rugged clothing…as well as vehicles, tanks, aircraft carriers, grenades, machetes, etc… Of course, I am a bit disappointed that I can’t wear it.
Dear Lüm-Tec, you have a great watch here. Now, make a version that non-giants can actually wear. Drop this sucker to 43-42mm, adjust the proportions as needed. Maybe pop the crown on the left side so it doesn’t bruise anyone’s hands, and you’ll be golden. 600M water resistance is cool and all, but this isn’t a dive watch, really, so make it a solid 200 or 300m, and you’ll get the point across. Do all that, and you’ll have one of the best modern, tough sport watches out there. A nice companion piece to the Combat line that is different enough to not really compete with it.
by Zach Weiss