Small history about me and how I chose the Lum-tec Combat B3:
At 31 years old, Iíve always been into watches since a teenager. Iíve never had less than 4 watches, albeit on a college kidís budget, my collections usually consisted of Seikos, Fossils, Timex, Victorinox, and Casio. I knew as my passion for watches grew someday I would eventually have to spend more than $100 to get a truly unique time piece. Compared to everything Iíve had until this point itís not a cheap watch, and I wanted to make sure I spent my money wisely.
For years I told myself ďIf I ever spend the money, Iím going to buy a Stowa!Ē Stowa, to me, was the pinnacle of beauty in the Ďaffordable/sensibleí price range. So after studying the reviews, carefully weighing my options and debating and comparing models for an eternity, I emptied the piggy-bank and counted the pennies and decided the Stowa Antea 390 was the way to go... so naturally I bought a Lum-tec.
(I originally bought the Lum-tec C1, but parted with it after a few weeks. 100% due to itís size, nothing to do with its craftsmanship or quality. It just looked small on my wrists for some reason.)
Part of the lure of the Lum-tec brand is their close proximity to my hometown where I grew up in Northeast Ohio. Itís special to me to support a lesser known company like Lum-tec than to fork over my $$ to a German company like Stowa whom I have no ties to. Even now, living in Ohio, itís fun to tell people that the watch I am wearing was made right here in my home state, just a couple hours north of here.
Like so many others, I am also attracted to the limited number of units made. I like knowing my B3 is very small in quantity, and chances are I will never see another person with one on their wrist. Victorinox, Seiko, and Swatch are a dime a dozen Ė the B3 is special.
Another big selling point for me was how Chris stands solidly by his product. You just donít see the president of Stowa slumming it out on the message boards soliciting customer feedback about new models, answering questions, or helping customers understand the movements, strap sizes, or chrono functions. It really does feel like a family, or at a minimum, a friend. Before I spent the money I saw how dedicated a lot of the Lum-tec owners on are, which was another hint that this was going to be a good experience.
Ordering the watch was easy, all it took was a phone call. Simple.
Shipping arrived right on time, and the package was well packed.
The watch arrived in a nice plush leather case with authenticity card.
Included were the standard 2 colored NATO straps.
Prior to owning the Lum-tec Combat B3 the largest watch I owned was 38mm, so the step up to a 43mm case was a big difference. I think the 43mm size is perfect on my wrist, but I understand it may be too large for others. It looks large, but not obnoxious like something Puff Daddy would wear. With the right strap, it wears very comfortably and is not a chore to wear.
The case is thick and weighty, but does not hinder putting my hands in my pocket or catching on jacket sleeves. The bead blasted finish on the B3 really looks classy, and the polished crown adds a nice contrasting glimmer. The purpleish anti-reflective coating actually works, and it looks cool too.
The textured bezel surrounding the front is beautiful. I took a picture of it and photoshopped a normal, solid edge around it and it just didnít look as good. The guys at Lum-tec hit a homerun with this design style! It looks elegant now, and Iím sure will look elegant 20 years from now. Timeless!
The light yellowish/green lettering really stands out well on the black face. Accompanying the numbering is the LUM-TEC name & some small text right below the 12. The words ďCombat B3Ē are in red above the 6, and the date is at the 4 oíclock position. It all blends together for a very understated, clean look.
This was huge for me. We all know the virtues of the luminous glow but it really is something to behold in person. I really appreciate the uncluttered face on the Combat B3, the fonts are all the right size and the numbers easy to read. If anything, I wish the hands were a little ďfatterĒ but that is nit picky. The ďglowĒ pictures you see online are probably taken 2 seconds after pulling the light source away, so donít expect that ultra-high brightness to last forever. But what IS nice is how you can glance over at the watch in the middle of the night, hours after the last exposure to sun light (or any light) and be able to easily make out the time accurately. Even the second hand has lume on it!! Sweeeet!
No disrespect to the Lum-tec photographers, the pictures on the website do this watch no justice. I think it really is something you have to see to appreciate.
Using the standard NATO straps that came with it are a mixed bag. I didnít think I would like the straps when I bought it, but it turns out I actually DO like the green color, just not the way the strap wears. Because of how the strap sits below the watch itself, it ďraisesĒ the watch up from your wrist a little bit. I donít care for this, but itís to be expected with these types of straps. The NATO straps themselves are of good quality and seem very durable, I had no problem with the lengths for my 7.5Ē wrist, if you are into those type of straps.
A part of me really likes the twin barrel soviet military movements found in other Lum-tec models. Not for any technical reason, I just think it adds a whole other level of Ďcoolí factor to it. Not that thereís anything wrong with the Seiko Japan NH25A11J automatic movement that is in the Combat B3, itís just not as charming as the soviet movement. Itís like having a little piece of history on your wrist. I freely admit to not knowing enough about the NH25A11J to talk down on it. It may very well be a rugged & reliable movement that will last forever. Being able to say ďThe insides of my watch are made from old soviet watchesĒ is a great conversation piece and adds something special to the experience.
I love the Lum-tec Combat B3 because of itís uniqueness, readability, and itís versatility. Meaning if I slap the B3 on a rustic hand-stitched leather strap with white stitching it will look awesome. If I slap the B3 on a classy black leather leather strap it will look awesome. If I slap the B3 on a stainless steel bracelet it will look awesome. There are just so many combinations of straps & bracelets to wear with this and each one makes it looks excellent. Having this flexibility will keep me happy for years.
I bought the Lum-tec Combat B3 with every intention of keeping it forever and making this a family heirloom. Just recently my wife and I celebrated the birth of our 1st child, a baby girl. When we packed our bags for the hospital I could have grabbed any one of the many watches from my dresser Ė but I specifically chose the Lum-tec for all the reasons I mentioned above. When I had to keep accurate count of the contractions, and how far apart they were, I counted on the Lum-tec. When I lifted my head at 4am to see how long it had been since the last feeding I could count on seeing the time, every time, without having to turn on a light.
Maybe someday I will get that Stowa Antea 390 Iíve always wanted. But for now, I am 110% satisfied with my Combat B3 and looking forward to adding more straps to my collection for various looks. Plus, itíll be neat someday to give this watch to my daughter (or her husband) and say ďThis is the watch I was wearing the moment you were born.Ē