A watch as tough as Navy SEALS

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THE toughest boys in the Navy deserve only one of the toughest watches out there.

In a trip last week, media guests and fit influencers were ferried to the historical island of Corregidor for military-style training. The former military base stood against the Japanese Imperial Army in the Second World War, and its fall spelled doom for the Philippines. On these shores spilled the blood, sweat, and tears of many, many soldiers, and it was their spirits that kept the country going.

Luminox is special for many reasons, but is best known for its luminescent capabilities. Tritium insets coated with phosphor give the watch the glow. The tritium gives off energy as it decays, making its phosphor surroundings glow. The watches are important in military operations, and every soldier graduating from the US Navy SEALS (Sea, Air and Land) training gets one.

Guests were given the XS 3501.L model to wear during a blindfolded endurance course, designed to show the watches’ capabilities during nighttime. We were taken to Corregidor’s South Beach, and were made to crawl, do burpees, and do a blindfolded duckwalk on rough grass. The watch is made of a compound called Carbonox, a very strong and waterproof material lighter than titanium. The watch was unscratched, but the same cannot be said for this reporter.

Now many of the watch’s wearers (the price ranges from P23,000 to P114,000) will never have to experience the toils of being a SEAL — so what makes it sell? Andres Poy, Regional Sales Manager for Asia Pacific of Mondaine (the company that now owns Luminox) said, “They feel engagement with our brand because the principles of the brand are the durability of the watch, and the reliability.”

“Many people, obviously don’t belong to the special troops.” He acknowledges, however, that the watches are used mostly by people with active outdoor lifestyles.

The watch is designed to endure: some of the games played by Mr. Poy’s team were meant to put the watch in ridiculous circumastances, such as freezing them in water for a week, or throwing them off multiple stories, expecting the watch to still work (and they do).

In a previous story in BusinessWorld, Assistant RDT&E Officer for the Navy Seals Nick North, one of the brand’s pillars, told us how he tested the watches: boiling them in pressure cookers and cooking them in an oven to simulate conditions in hundreds of feet underwater and in the dessert.

Mr. Poy, meanwhile said, that one of their watches is now on the wrist of a North Pole explorer. He warns though, “It doesn’t mean that the watches are indestructible.”

He compares the watch to a four-wheel drive vehicle: yes, it’s tough, and it will outperform a city vehicle on rough terrain, but it might still break.

No matter: the watches have a 10-year warranty, while the tritium insets on the hands can last up to 25 years. Mr. Poy said that watches made during the brand’s inception in 1989 are still working — and glowing.

Most of us might never be forced to be in a firefight, or to have to look at the time while running away from a ticking timebomb. And you’ll probably never be in a situation that requires you to be in 660 feet underwater. When you buy a Luminox watch, you’re buying into a fantasy: with a watch, your wrist can be one with the SEALs.

“The Navy SEAL watch is a good link to the real thing,” said Mr. Poy. “We’re not a fashion brand, we are not a marketing brand. We are making real watches. We make tools.”

The Lucerne Group is a retail partner of Luminox in the Philippines. — Joseph L. Garcia