Monday, June 23, 2014

Review of Luminox Deep Dive Automatic


Model # 1509

Brand/Model:  Luminox Deep Dive Automatic Series 1500
Movement:   Swiss automatic
Material:  PVD black stainless steel case, rubber/polyurethane dive strap
Complications:  date display
Price:  MSRP $1,900 USD


Plenty of photos follow the review. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

I’ve owned several Luminox watches over the years and have always been impressed with their overall quality and design.  Since I pretty much purchase only automatic movement watches these days, I decided to check out the Luminox Deep Dive Series of Swiss automatics that the company makes.  From the moment I unpacked the watch from its pelican-style waterproof case, I was impressed and several months down the line, I remain so.

Luminox made their name starting over 20 years ago by being the first company to mass-produce constantly-illuminated watches via tritium tubes placed on the dial, hands and bezels.  The tubes are tiny sealed glass vials filled with low-level radioactive tritium that glow continuously without the need for an external charging light source.  The tubes can remain illuminated for up to 25 years.  Luminox refers to this feature as ‘Night Vision Tubes.’

The advantage of a continuous illumination is no matter what the conditions one finds themselves in, whether low light or no light, the watch dial and hands will always be able to be read.  Over the years, the tritium tube technology has been refined and expanded, to include the standard green color tubes, along with white, orange and blue.  The tubes can also be made flat instead of round, leading to a slimmer overall watch dimension.

A watch with tritium tubes usually has a deeper dial on it (the distance between the underside of the crystal and the top of the dial) because of the thickness of the tubes used on the hands and dial.  More space is needed between the hour, minute and seconds hand to allow for clearance of the tubes.  Sometimes the deeper dials can look a bit odd, other times they look pretty cool.

A couple of other notes about tritium tube technology; the brightness of the illumination is not nearly as bright as fully charged SuperLuminova or similar modern lume.  The tubes emit a softer glow, which still gives a clear reading of the dial and hands, but it is not what one would refer to as ‘bright.’ 

Also, since the tubes have a limited life span, if you intend to keep the watch for more than 25 years or pass it on as a family keepsake, can you get the tubes replaced when they dim out?  Presumably so, but at what cost?  But I guess you could say the same thing about standard luminous material, which does degrade in intensity over time as well.

Now, back to the watch at hand.  The Luminox Deep Dive is a serious, no-compromise true dive watch that is ISO 6425 certified.  It carries a 500-meter water resistance rating and has an automatic helium escape valve (HEV) fitted to the left side of the case.  And please be warned, this is a large watch!  Due to the already heavy, large, thick case, the wide rubber (silicone/polyurethane) band with triple pin buckle and the integrated design of the strap, this watch has serious wrist presence.  For my smaller wrist, it’s about as large as I dare go, but I will also say this, this watch looks pretty badass on the wrist.

The crown guard/crown lock serves two purposes; one is of course to protect the large, signed screwdown crown from damage and the other is to lock the bezel in place.  This means you have to pull out the guard at the bottom (it’s hinged at the top) to rotate the bezel, then push the crown guard back to its locked position.  It all works well, but the piece that locks the bezel in place is a bit sharp, so caution should be exercised.  The design of the crown lock is listed by Luminox as ‘Patent Pending.’ 

Also, since the guard only swings out to slightly above a horizontal position, it makes the watch a bit hard to manually wind and then screw the crown back in.  Not a huge gripe, but something that potential purchasers need to be aware of.  I always like winding my automatics and the easier it is to do this, the better.

The Deep Dive starts with an all stainless steel, brushed black-finished case.  The finish is PVD and the quality and evenness of the finish is superb. 

The case measures 44mm without the slight overhang of the bezel, the large signed crown or the hinged crown guard.  Measuring the diameter of the bezel gives a reading of about 44.8mm on the inside of the bezel notches and when the crown guard is included, the diameter jumps to a hefty 51.8mm.   That being said, as I mentioned earlier, this is a large watch, but it also doesn’t wear the way its dimensions would indicate.  It is certainly on the acceptable side of wearability.

Lug-tip to lug-tip measures 50mm; case thickness is 17.2mm.  The integrated strap measures 29.3mm at the case but tapers to about 24.6mm at the buckle.  The HEV is centered on the left side of the case.  The valve itself is silver with a red gasket.

The caseback is screwed down and is also finished in black PVD.  It carries a cool embossed dive helmet logo, along with a variety of printing in silver, including the individualized serial number and a small Luminox logo.

The Deep Dive Series has been expanded and changed a bit over the years.  Originally, the black Deep Dive watches came with orange, yellow, white or blue accented dials.  They now come in both black and non-black cases with blue or black dials with white accents.  A ‘Scott Cassell’ special edition was also produced.

My Deep Dive is the orange-accent model and it looks great.  The orange is not fluorescent or too orangey, it is just about the perfect shade of orange.  The dial has orange markers at each five-minute mark with a green tritium tube in the middle of each marker.  The wide V-shaped marker at the 12 position carries three (!) blue tubes stacked horizontally. 

The chapter ring has white hash marks for each minute, with the five minute marks in orange to match the markers on the dial.  The minute hand is larger and white with two blue tubes, the hour hand is smaller and orange with a single green tube and the seconds hand is orange, with a small green tube on its end.  There is also a small blue tube under a sapphire lens that functions as the lume pip on the bezel. 

If you’re keeping track, that’s 18 tubes in all on this watch.  Cheaper versions of watches with tritium tubes will always have fewer tubes on the dials, because this saves money and sometimes, cheaper versions have standard luminous material in certain places as well.  The more tubes, the more expensive the watch.

One thing that Luminox did with this design to help counter an overly deep-looking dial is since the hour hand is fairly short, they recessed the dial to accommodate only the hour hand.  This results in a dial that is not super deep and also creates a neat recessed circle in the center of the dial that adds a nice dimension to the watch.

The dial is easy to read overall, although sometimes the orange seconds hand gets lost on the dial amidst the orange markers.  There is no marker or tube at the three position, because this is where the quickset date resides.  The date wheel is black on white and the alignment within the window is good. 

Luminox did something here that I greatly admire.  Instead of using the typical too small date window or slapping a cyclops magnifier on or under the crystal, they used an ETA movement that has a date wheel with larger numerals and enlarged the date window on the dial accordingly.  While it’s not by any means considered a ‘big date’ design, this solution works great and is something I’d like to see more of.  The date window is framed with an orange box to make it easier to see.

The Luminox logo is found under the 12 position and too much wording is printed above the 6 position.  Luminox found it fitting to cram in ‘professional’, ‘500 meters’, ‘helium valve’ and ‘automatic’ in four separate lines printed in orange.  It’s really a bit much for such a great-looking tool watch.

The bezel is a 60-click unidirectional design, which, as I mentioned earlier, can only be rotated once the crown guard/lock is opened.  The bezel rotates with a distinctive ‘click’ but does have some backlash when unlocked; once locked, the bezel still has a bit of play to it.  The bezel insert is brushed black aluminum with silver arabics and markers around its entire circumference.  Arabics mark every five minutes, with hash marks for the remainder of the hour.

Capping the dial is a sapphire crystal with double anti-reflective coating.  The crystal is slightly recessed from the bezel.

Overall fit and finish on this watch is of a very high quality.  And as mentioned before, if you haven’t figured it out already, the Deep Dive is factory-rated for 500 meters of water resistance.

Inside the Deep Dive is a Swiss Made ETA 2826-2 automatic movement, which is a minor variation of the ubiquitous 2824-2 movement that needs no introduction, as this is the workhorse of any number of automatic watches being sold today. 

The 2826-2 movement has 25 jewels, runs at 28,800 bph, hacks and manually winds and all functions, from the quickset date to manually winding and setting the watch work as they should.  The 2826-2 has the larger date wheel as previously described.

Timekeeping has been exceptional; off the wrist, the Deep Dive has run about +2/24 hours while on the wrist, it runs at no variation, spot on!  Power reserve is in the expected range, this example clocking at 40.25 hours.

The strap is rubber/silicone/polyurethane and while I usually disdain rubber straps, the strap on the Deep Dive is exceptional.  It is well-made, soft, flexible and doesn’t have any scent or smell to it.  It also has an imprinted tread-like design on the inside to give it some grip on the wrist or a wet suit.  The outer side of the strap has a double-ridge design running from the bezel down the strap for a distance of 40mm on either side.  It looks good.

The strap is integrated into the case and is held in place by screw bar attachments.  The strap measures 29.3mm at the case and tapers to 24.6mm at the buckle.  The buckle is black stainless steel and has a triple pin design, with the center pin being slightly longer than the outer two pins.  There are two keepers, one fixed (held in place by small nubs molded into the strap) and one floating.  The fixed keeper is a bit wider than the floating keeper. 

Luminox also includes a dive extension strap for those who wish to explore the depths while wearing this fine timepiece.  Since I purchased this watch grey-market, it did not come with the dive extension, but that’s fine, as I don’t plan on diving, swimming or even showering with this watch.

Due to the design of the strap at the case, fitting an aftermarket strap would be a challenge, but I’m sure it could be done one way or another.  But as rubber straps go, this one is a winner and should be kept as-is.

The presentation of the Deep Dive is another strong point of this watch.  A white outer cardboard wrap encases a two-piece box.  Inside the box is a pelican-style waterproof case with the watch, dive extension and paperwork inside.  A perfect box for a Deep Dive watch!

Luminox has always made great watches and the Deep Dive is no exception.  While not cheap, a watch that has this many features with a Swiss engine and Swiss quality can and should cost more.  Since these watches can be found discounted if you know where to look, it makes the value proposition that much stronger.  Whether you’re a serious diver or a guy like me that just likes nifty dive watches, the Deep Dive is an uber cool dive/tool watch that should not be overlooked.

Pros: great quality all the way through, Swiss automatic movement, tritium tube illumination, a date display you can see, unique feature set 

Cons:  integrated strap a bit bulky/hard to fit aftermarket straps, crown lock a bit clunky to use, size too big for some, no strap option other than rubber

Verdict:  a super cool, super well-designed real dive watch that presents a true value among Swiss-made, Swiss automatic dive watches.  Nicely done!
 
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!


-Marc


5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can you review the technomarine cruise as your next watch?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only review watches that I own and I do not own a Technomarine. The only way I could review one would be to get a loaner.

      -MCV

      Delete
  3. Nice picture and reviewer. I love all your reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great review. Nice to read. I guess I'm picking the white version up in a couple of DAYS.

    Regards Peter

    ReplyDelete