Besides virtually dominating the segment of “casual activity timekeepers,” the US-based Luminox is also a supplier to the U.S. military and law-enforcement agencies. In a move to make its position even stronger, the brand has updated its model range with the new Essential Gear series that now includes a ‘tactical’ diving tool.
Delivering the usual mix of an inexpensive “Swiss Made” quartz movement secured in a mildly oversized plastic body, the watch doesn’t look awe-inspiring but gets the job done. The secret is, of course, in its winning combination of a high-contrast dial and those classic tiny tritium-filled tubes that allow all three hands and twelve hour-markers to glow brightly even if you have spent the last 48 hours in a dark-dark cellar without moving much, your index finger close to the trigger of your M4.
Unlike guys from The Expendables franchise, thousands of professionals that work either for all sorts of government agencies or private military companies rarely wear expensive timekeepers from Panerai and Richard Mille. When there are so many pieces of heavy hardware around you, when you must always be ready to duck on a pile of broken bricks, spending 10k for a tough-looking watch is not the best idea.
Starting at a ridiculously low price of $295, the Essential Gear Sea sports a rugged-looking 44 mm case made of a carbon-based composite material, which is both durable and lightweight. At the price, it is also, um, expendable: you can slam it into a concrete wall and order yourself a new one on eBay as fast as you can get to the nearest computer.
However, losing the gadget due to suddenly shattered glass is not the best imaginable thing either, so Luminox has made sure that the mineral crystal has also undergone some special treatment that made it less prone to scratches and strong enough to withstand water pressure of up to 20 BAR.
Like the rest of Luminox watches, this diver features a set of LLT tritium tubes that provide the instrument with adequate backlighting and are generally good for about 25 years. While there are still a lot of folks that deem the mildly radioactive gas ‘dangerous’, the LLT technology is as safe as a microwave oven: as long as you don’t boil eggs in it, you are as safe as it gets.
To make the dial even more readable at night, Luminox has logically differentiated the colors that the LLT tubes glow in the darkness.
The hour hand, as well as the central-seconds hand and the main hour marker at 12 hours, are green; while the minute hand, the other 11 indices on the minute track, and the “00” mark on the rotating bezel are colored in a shade of violet.
Such color differentiation must be very convenient when you are under severe stress from a sudden ambush and reflexively want to check the time.
The case attaches to the wrist with a comfortable-looking nylon Velcro “fast-strap” sporting the company’s logo on one side and the U.S. Navy SEALs insignia on the other.
The American watchmaker says nothing about the movement, besides that this is some kind of Swiss quartz, so there is a good chance that the Essential Gear Sea will be both accurate and reliable.
See also: Argonaut 1000 TQ diving instrument
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Luminox Essential Gear Sea specification
Price: $295 (MSRP)
Movement: Swiss quartz
Power reserve: A couple of years
Case: Carbon-reinforced polymer
Size: 44.00 mm
Hands: White, LLT tritium tubes
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Black nylon Velcro fast-strap
Crystal: Mineral, scratch-resistant