Review of the LÜM-TEC V1
By: John B. Holbrook, II
Like most LÜM-TEC fans, when I heard about the new V Series development some eight months ago, I got excited. As time went on, that excitement only built in the LÜM-TEC community right up until the day the initial V Series model shipped from LÜM-TEC last week. The V Series would be an entirely new watch line from LÜM-TEC featuring one of the most complex and attractive case designs we've seen from the company to date, with a Swiss ETA movement and a display back. But did the released product live up to the (high) expectations for the watch? Read on to see my impressions...
I ordered the V1 which is the 316L stainless steel model. The 44m diameter case of the V1 features screw lock crown with a double diamond sealing system which provides 100 meters/330 ft. of water resistance. That's good enough for light water sports activities, up to an including snorkeling. Like most LÜM-TEC models, the V1 ships with a rubber strap, which looks fantastic on this watch, and provides a great strap option for warm weather, or activities you wouldn't want to subject to a nice leather strap:
The case on the V1 is absolutely gorgeous - clearly inspired by the classic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and more contemporary Hublot Big Bang. It has a blend of both brushed and polished finishes I've never quite seen before on a watch - the mix is as interesting as it is attractive:
To do the fairly complex CNC milling work required to construct a case like this is no small expense. It takes very expensive machines and very competent, experienced personnel to program and operate the machinery. That a company as young as LÜM-TEC is can bring a watch with a case like this to market is very impressive to me.
When you put this watch on your wrist, you'd also swear this isn't a 44mm diameter watch - it wears much smaller. Just check out how it looks on my wrist:
Normally anything over about 42mm looks comical on my 5'7" frame, but this watch looks fantastic in my honest opinion. Depending on the strap choice, you can dress this watch up or down quite easily, which is a big plus in my book. Here's how the watch looks on the also included leather strap:
Of the included straps, my personal preference is for the rubber strap. But this is a watch you'll likely want to purchase many different straps for to satisfy your individual taste - and LÜM-TEC even has a fantastic case matching bracelet coming out for the V series in November, which you can read about in the *Official* LÜM-TEC Forum by clicking here.
Also included with the V1 is the new LÜM-TEC bi-fold stainless steel deployant clasp! It's signed LÜM-TEC, and is extremely well made. If you like deployant style clasps, you will absolutely love the new LÜM-TEC clasp. Here's a photo of it on an alligator patterned leather strap I purchased for my V1:
LÜM-TEC chose the venerable ETA 2824-2 to be the power plant for the V1. I see an increasing number of watch manufacturers using lower-end Asian movements or ETA clones in watch models designed to appeal to the "entry level" buyer. Whether you see that as a good thing or not is a matter of personal preference, but from my perspective, the ETA 2824 is a preferred choice which underscores LÜM-TEC's commitment to quality. The ETA 2824-2 is a 25 jewel self-winding mechanical movement with a balance wheel which oscillates at a speed of 28,800 beats per hour and has a power reserve of about 40 hours. Here's a photo of the case back of the V1, which allows a nice view of the ETA 2824-2 via the sapphire display window (which like the top side crystal has an anti-reflective coating applied to both sides):
A minor note of criticism here: The ETA 2824-2 in the V1 is absent of any sort of embellishment - not even a LÜM-TEC signed rotor. To expect an elaborately decorated and finished movement at the price point of the V1 is completely unrealistic. However, I would have liked to have seen at least a LÜM-TEC signed rotor on this watch given the sapphire display back for seeing the movement on the V1. Regardless of aesthetic considerations, it would appear that the watch movement had been regulated prior to shipping from LÜM-TEC, as it ran within COSC specifications according to my accuracy testings - about -3 seconds per day:
The only other item of criticism I might have for the LÜM-TEC V1 is with the decision to apply an anti-reflective coating to both the top and bottom sides of the sapphire crystal and sapphire display back on the V1. As I've often spoke about in the past, applying an AR coating to the top side of a sapphire crystal is a bad idea in my opinion because the coating will show scratches and wear on the otherwise scratch resistant sapphire crystal. It also creates a blue-hued color cast on the dial (and movement when looking at the back of the watch) when viewing from certain angles. LÜM-TEC indicates that most of their customers are asking for double AR coated crystals on their watches. If that's the case, then I'm in the minority with my opinion on this issue. And of course, it is possible to remove the top side coating on the crystal, which many have reported doing. On the plus side, this blue cast is not as severe on the V1 as I've seen on other LÜM-TEC models - here's a dial shot which shows the blue cast:
Of course, the V1 features LÜM-TEC's proprietary "MDV Technology®" (maximum darkness visibility) luminous coating generously applied to both the hands and markers of the V1. When the lights go out, the V1 certainly performs as advertised:
In addition to my written photo review, I've also recorded a video supplement on the LÜM-TEC V1:
Minor criticisms aside, the LÜM-TEC V1 is an absolutely outstanding time piece, and an incredible value with a retail price of just $865.00. In a sea of luxury priced Swiss, German, and Japanese watch brands with never ending price increases, an American brand like LÜM-TEC who strives to produce exceptionally high-performance watches at an extremely reasonable price is a breath of fresh air. My hope is that watch enthusiasts everywhere will support LÜM-TEC, and if you don't yet own one, the V1 is a great place to start.
**Photos & Text Copyright 2011 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.