Luminox – The Worst Watch I’ve Ever Owned

I bought this Luminox watch because it had truly “glow in the dark” hands and markings – not luminescent paint, but fancy capsules that glow for 25 years. It was great, until it broke.

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I was doing some laps in a shifter kart when the second hand simply fell off and prevented the other hands from turning. Luminox advertisements show fighter jets and imply world-class durability; needless to say, I wasn’t pulling 9 Gs in a shifter kart.

When I contacted them to fix it – I had owned it for less than a year at the time – they basically told me to take a hike. The chain I had purchased the watch from had closed a few locations, including the one I bought my watch from, and they couldn’t verify my purchase. Therefore, Luminox had a convenient excuse to not even accept my watch for repair.

It also gave me a convenient excuse to buy a watch that didn’t fall apart if looked at sternly. I now use a variety of Citizen Eco-Drives. The bands aren’t ideal, but as timepieces they are quite good.

40 thoughts on “Luminox – The Worst Watch I’ve Ever Owned”

  1. Watch this article make Luminox change their policies. I’d say it’s about time they do that, and this article is a nice slap on the wrist.

  2. +1 on the Timex Expedition. I’ve been wearing (abusing) mine for over ten years. The watch hands are no longer luminous but with a quick press of the knob, the watch face lights up and is very readable. Paid $20 for it.

  3. Had an identical experience with an expensive Luminox, their “grey market” policy is arrogant bullshit. Way to go, Cheapinox. Never again.

  4. Your lucky it was only a few hundred dollars…try buying a $5k Kobold to have stuff fall off it during casual wear after 9 months and having the factory charge you to fix it…
    For highly dependable rugged watches Casio and Seiko rule

  5. Suunto FTW, have had mine since March of 2010 with no issues. Sucks batteries though, but all the functions make it worth it to me.

  6. If you want a bomb proof analog watch with tritium on the hands and hours look at the TSAR from Marathon. They are available through countycomm most times. They have an automatic and quartz version (I have the quartz) I’ve had one on my wrist that I bought used about three years ago and it has been 100% reliable for me and I’m extremely hard on watches and have broken many a timex. It has an actual Swiss movement and runs in the same ball park price wise as a luminox, it has a nice heavy duty stainless steel case and very tough crystal. Mine has been very accurate since I got it, I don’t think I’ve set it once to correct for it being fast or slow since I’ve had it. Marathon apparently makes these for some Canadian group and they are allegedly used by some navy divers or whatever. I’ve seen them on the wrists of guys with access to a GSA account (it has an NSN). Whoever uses them doesn’t really matter, but they are an extremely tough watch that will probably last a lifetime.

  7. Marathon is top shelf, I kept mine when I punched out.

    Now-a-days, it’s Suunto or MKII.

    Good luck w/ Luminox. Least you weren’t Invicti-mized!

  8. Quantum mechanics references? Nice.

    Anyway, customer services from a bunch of trolls to sugar uncles. I’ve met both and some shades of gray in between (which was a much better expression before the books). One is very adept at bitching me out of any compensatory service, the other couldn’t have been quicker to offer me it (usually a coupon covering shipping costs and a coupon covering the costs of a replacement item as soon as I returned it by mail).

  9. I have a Marathon GSAR and it is a great watch, but I cannot recommend CountyComm. Their customer service blows and they suck as a company, I know from personal experience. If you want a Marathon watch buy it from Broadarrow.net.

  10. I agree. I’m a retired police detective. Once upon a time I got into a bit of a tussle with an arrestee. The band on my Luminox watch (a titanium “Navy Seal” model) was damaged and Luminox (the importer) had no replacements and little interest in fixing the watch. I also own a couple of Citizen Eco-Drive watches. Rugged, accurate and no problems.

  11. You can always change the bands on a eco-drive if you want a more subdued/practical wrist band. I hate metal wristbands. Countycomm sells some pretty nice aftermarket bands.

  12. Love my Marathon as well. Look around for a used Deep Blue with the T-100 tubes. Glows like all getout and I beat the crap out of mine and it just keeps on ticking.
    Can’t go wrong with the Citizen Ecos as well. Last one went over twenty years.

  13. Speaking from the perspective of a random outdoors industry guy, Luminox has found a good place within the pseudo outdoors world, “nice” enough that they get out of the price range of most standard outdoors type watches but not “nice” enough that they actually get into competition with the larger and higher priced names of more style conscious brands. Speaking from an outdoors perspective, there is nothing that Luminox offers that gives them a big upper hand(pun intended) on any of their outdoors competitors, conversely, there is nothing that they offer that makes them better in aesthetics or performance based tests that make them superior to their more traditional/style based competitors. They seem to have just found a good portion of the market and make “cool” watches for that portion of the market.

    First off, let me say that I do no possess the technical knowledge to talk on the quality of the inner workings and components that make up Luminox watches, so since I can’t speak to those things, I won’t. On actual personal level experience with Luminox, while not having any personal negative experiences(I have had a few customers that have had issues, out of the 30 sold in the last year 1 has come back with some sort of technical problem and of course the occasional customer that will just shoot the breeze about why he/she doesn’t like them), my main gripe is with the aesthetic function of the watch, they just can’t seem to get the three aesthetic things right that need to be right to have a “good” watch. First off is your layout, what you want on the watch face and where you want it, usually I will see in Luminox watches far too much on the watch face and sometimes laid out in a confusing manner. For Example: http://local.luminox.com/files/upload/Products/A.8821.KM_big.png their recon pointman is far too cluttered to be considered an accessible time piece, when you’re exhausted or your adrenaline is pumping, the last thing you want to look down to see is a big blur of 5 different sets of numbers when you only need 2. Second is the aesthetic function choices of the watch what you want the watch to look like in terms of number style, color, wrist band. Gripes with this category I have to boil down to at least a 2/3 of just personal preference but I will say in an analog watch just as any timepiece I want the time to be read as easily as possible so when certain color scheme decisions are made(i.e. http://local.luminox.com/files/upload/Products/A.8802_big.png ) or when certain hand designs are chosen(i.e. http://local.luminox.com/files/upload/Products/A.3081.BO_big.png ) I can’t help but scoff a little bit at the decisions made to make something look “cool” rather then work well. The third and by far the most important in my opinion is the ratios at which to size things, perfect example http://local.luminox.com/files/upload/Products/A.3901_big.png one of luminox’s original watches, this is a great example in which for a watch this size the size ratios of the watch are very good also the layout and content of the watch is very good, this watch is probably the closest that luminox has come to making a “good” watch in my opinion, since then it seems as if they have become overstretched and their ratios have suffered the most out of all their aesthetic categories, http://local.luminox.com/files/upload/Products/A.7051_big.png, is a great example, as you can see your second/minute ring numbers are larger then your hour ring numbers which can be fine but your hand designs are so much smaller that you have to look twice to find out what hour you are in.

    As I started out the paragraph above, Luminox often doesn’t get all 3 aesthetic things right but they can sometimes get 2 and they will most likely get 1, there are a few watches that I just think are outright bad( http://local.luminox.com/watches/sea/+/watch/A.1503). I usually am not so critical of a watch company but Luminox first and foremost prides itself as a brand driven by their navy seal backing which is a great thing, but also opens them to one of the highest levels of scrutiny because by that logic if they are made for the best, they better be the best. So there’s my .02 Andrew.

  14. When I as in the Marines 1988-1992, I wore a DW5600C G-shock for two years in the field straight.

    It was bomb proof and I still have it today. Not an every day wear however. I sport a current “gulfman” at work now.

    Luminox I STILL look crossways at. I’d take a G-shock, a simple Omega or Breitling Colt automatic.

    For you real watch nerds, I wish I had a PRS-2 Dreadnought.

      1. i have a tawatec titanium automatic, been running strong for a few years, no problems. highly recommended for a tritium watch.

  15. Citizen eco-drive skyhawk titanium. It had been to hell and back and is still going strong. I only wish the gave didn’t scratch so easy.

  16. Shit happens I guess. I have worn Luminox for the past 20 years with never a problem. As a leo for 30 yrs I found them to be the only watch you can see in the dark without glasses….. Naturally if you need glasses. Though they have become a little expensive. And they’re silicone bands do not last very long. I would not be without 1. I have found their customer service to be top notch. When they could not replace a out dated band they sold me I watch of my choice for half price. Can’t beat that deal!!!!

  17. The watch bands should not be out of date or discontinued. That is planed obsolescence so even when you get a good watch that lasts and think your happy, the band becomes the failure point.

  18. I had the same problem with LumiNox watch. The movement was always behind time and I thought the battery was dying. So, I went to the store where I purchased it. Found out that it wasn’t the battery but that the movement is damaged. I had it for less than three months and it is already broken. It is not like I did any heavy work out. In addition, the warranty was a total dud. I had to pay for the repair.

    Interesting enough, the watchman recommended a digital watch like G shock if you want a reliable time piece.

  19. I had the same problem with my Luminox. The movement died, so i contact them about getting it repaired. It would cost me almost as much as getting a new one. Now I have a dead Luminox and a well worn WORKING casio G-shock.

  20. My letter to Luminox

    Luminox,
    I guess I would like to start this off by stating to you that I have never been so upset or disappointed in a product to write to the manufacturer about it. I’m sure that I am wasting my time by typing this up, but my hopes are that this might have the slight chance of being read by someone that cares. That takes pride in their workmanship. That respects the fact that Luminox is placing a Navy Seal stamp on the back of a watch that has been the worst watch I have ever owned.
    I was given the A.3051.BO as a gift for helping my friend install tile flooring in his entire house about a year and a half ago. As a watch collector I knew what model it was as soon as I opened the case. I had weeks before viewed it in a magazine and placed it in wish list. Not owning a Luminox, I was excited about the fact that I was now the proud owner of the Navy Seal edition of a Luminox. I was stoked. As I put it on my wrist I noticed that the second hand was not moving, so I checked the dial to make sure it was pushed in and tight. It was so I told him that the battery might have been bad. My friend was more disappointed than I was and I told him I would run by the jewelry store in the A.M… No big deal.
    So I dropped it off and an hour later the jeweler called me and said that the watch battery was fine and there was something internally wrong with the watch. (I will try to keep things short from here on out). So my friend sent the watch back to Cabela’s and weeks later I received another one. Once again I was ecstatic. I put it on as soon as I got it and wore it every day for weeks. About a month goes by and I noticed that it stopped illuminating. I wasn’t happy about it but not that big of a deal. I told my buddy and he just gave me a copy of the receipt. He said that when I wanted I could send it back. Well it was a few weeks later that I sat down at work and noticed that the dial was gone. When I got back home I was on a mission to find it and I looked for about an hour and realized that it was under warranty and I shouldn’t have any issues with getting it replaced. So the next day I got on the web and looked for the warranty policy. I noticed that I would be returning the watch to Lumondi Saltzman’s Watches and more in Cranston, RI not Luminox and filled out their form. On the form it states that the dial is not covered under warranty but they list all their pricing and it was something like $35 which wasn’t a big deal. So I figured since I had to pay for it anyway I asked for them to replace it with the dial off of the 3053 blue dial. I stated that the gas inside was no longer illuminating the face and it would fog up every once in a while when I sweat. I sent them the watch and a few weeks later I got a call stating that the bezel color could not be changed which didn’t make sense to me because I was paying for it myself. After all it was my watch and I should be able to choose whatever color dial I wanted. If I buy a Rolex and it doesn’t come with a diamond encrusted dial, I can purchase one down the line and have it put on. Why are your watches any different? Never the less Lumondi stated that they would have to remove the crystal to change the seal and mine had some scratches that they noticed and for $18 they could change it out. Once again I asked for the sapphire crystal instead of the plastic one and they stated again that they couldn’t do that. So I stated just replace whatever they think needs to be and send it back.

    About $85 later and three weeks I had my watch back in my hands. Once again about a month or two go by and it starts fogging up inside when I was working out in the yard. I didn’t want to damage the inside components so I took it off and placed it on my countertop. It sat there for a few days when I came home to find my 2 ½ year old daughter was carrying it around. When she noticed that I was home she dropped the watch from about a foot or two off of the ground onto the tile floor and came running up to me. My wife picked it up and her eyes got big and I knew what had happened. I just laughed in frustration.

    So, I’m returning this watch. It’s cheaper for me not to own a Luminox if this is how they are built. Give it to someone that doesn’t work hard, play hard and take the Navy Seal off of the back because you obviously don’t know who or what it represents in this country.

  21. As an Ex Navy combat diver I purchased a Lumi Seal watch. One year later the crystal developed a “stress” crack at the top. No impact involved , just developed a crack. The plastic bezel wore out rapidly spins around with no marks visible. Use it as a beater watch outside. Replaced it with a Weems and Plath navigator quartzwatch, has the H3 marks, Swiss movement and a METAL bezel. My original Navy issue watch was an Elgin WW2 diving watch. Had to turn it in when I left the diving unit. It is worth a fortune now. but it was the standard issue dive watch.
    Subvet

  22. I had the SUUNTO X9 for about 3 years – The plastic face cracked – I contacted SUUNTO, I printed off a mailing label at no charge and sent the watch to SUUNTO expecting to be contacted with a high dollar to repair the watch – but was rather surprised when 2 weeks later I received a package from SUUNTO with a brand new SUUNTO X10. You cannot beat this customer service – Recently I had a SUUNTO CORE that froze-up – again I mail it to SUUNTO on their dime and in 2 weeks received my watch repaired – no charge – A Great Company with True Customer Service – a recommend purchase -

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