A closer look at the LÜM-TEC M18

I came across LÜM-TEC at a very random spot – in the pages of the timeless American men’s monthly, Playboy. You would have expected to appreciate the finer points of healthy female specimens rather than a watch review, but I guess this is how things work in life sometimes.

Who, or what is LÜM-TEC anyway?
They are a relatively new watch brand based in the States, headed by Chris Wiegand. The main selling points of LÜM-TEC? Quality hand-assembled watches which look great, with their own special brand of lume (known as Maximum Darkness Visibility or MDV) on the watch face that makes reading the time an easy task, be it day or night.

Jumping onto the bandwagon – making the order
This was actually my first time buying a watch of this caliber (have a look at how many damn parts it takes to make a watch!), but I thought the reserve price of USD$595 was reasonable (which got dropped to USD$505 later due to a power reserve change), and I really liked the way the M18 looked – orange on black is cool. I don’t claim to know watches like the back of my hand, so I’ll leave you to read the specs on the M automatic 2009 series page.

After a few days of reading up on watch construction and so on (with expert advice from Adri/Adri’s dad), I made up my mind to go for it. So off I went to place an order for the M17 and M18; the M17 for Stan, the M18 for myself.

The M17, very typically masculine. (image source)

The M18 holds a sportier look. (image source)

Note for Australians: It really makes sense to buy in bulk, since shipping for two watches to Australia is USD$35, and one is USD$30. Surprisingly, shipping it in straight from the States proved to be cheaper than the Australian dealer – probably because I got the reserve prices!

The order process was relatively easy; all I had to do was to drop an email off to LÜM-TEC confirming my reservations, and Chris (the head honcho) would reply to confirm my order, with an expected completion date. For future reservations, use the 2009 models reservation form instead.

What next?
Twiddling my fingers while waiting for the watches to be ready. And of course, taking an occasional peek at the LÜM-TEC sub-forum (in Watch & Clock forums), where updates would be posted initially (they shifted it to the updates page subsequently).

Payment method
So I placed my order in early August, and got the confirmation for payment in mid-October. How did I pay? PayPal is always the path of least resistance, heh heh.

Delivery method and time frame
Delivery was made via USPS, and took 7 days; well within the 5-10 day delivery Chris promised. Speedy delivery really! I guess you get what you pay for.

The M18 revealed
I actually took a ton of pictures, but decided on only posting these. Shitty pictures should be censored as always!

The watches came shipped in sturdy cardboard boxes, which were tightly taped. Tore the tape off, opened the boxes and bubble wrap awaited. The bubble wrap surrounded a white box with silver LÜM-TEC letters on the top. Opening this box, revealed a leather watch case stencilled with LÜM-TEC. Talk about opening one box after another!

The leather watch case contained the watch itself with the leather strap already attached, two optional straps (metal and rubber) included. I like the way the metal strap looks, so I replaced the leather strap with the metal strap the following day. Note that the watch will be a tad heavy though!

And yes, the watch is a limited edition by default, so a certificate comes together with instruction on watch settings – not that there were much to begin with. A knob to wind the time, and a quick set button for the date – that’s basically it.

The watch is a good fit to my wrist (6.5″ circumference, 55mm width) so if you are someone with relatively thin wrists, relax! You’ll still be able to look good with a watch face of this size (40mm). I’m really happy with the way the watch looks – it feels like a statement of manhood; solid, rugged and totally dependable.

For people who are new to automatic movement watches

Check out this video to know more about winding an automatic movement watch. Granted the model is a Breitling, but the theory should be similar.

The instruction sheet that came with the watch read:

To start the movement, unscrew the crown and while in position 1, wind the crown in a clock-wise direction until the watch begins to run, then it is ready for use.

Being a layman, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how the crown could be unscrewed for winding. So I decided on caution and looked to Chris for help. Here’s Chris’ reply:

Hi Kein,

The sheet was misprinted as it should not say unscrew the crown. It does not screw in. Just turn clockwise (up) about 30-40 turns. Updated sheet attached for you to print. Sorry for the error.

Best regards,
Chris Wiegand

So in short, to hand wind:

  • Leave crown at position 1 – this refers to the crown not being pulled out.
  • Wind it clockwise (upwards) for 30-40 turns.
  • That’s it!

Watch accuracy is maintained by wearing the watch in the daytime (lose seconds), and leaving it face up at night when you sleep (gains seconds) – this has to do with gravity affecting the movement. So if you wear it regularly, chances are the watch will stay pretty accurate.

I’m really pleased to have made this purchase, and look forward to using this watch in the years ahead. I would really recommend LÜM-TEC to people who are interested in getting a limited edition watch of quality build at a decent price, so hope over to lum-tec.com and have a look today!

Links that fellow LÜM-TEC owners might be interested in: