Review - Luminox - Navy SEAL Foundation Watch - 3251.CBNSF.SET
History of Luminox
Luminox, based out of California is a company linked to a wide range of organisations and companies globally, notably the; US Military, US Coastguard, sports teams, civilian rescue teams and many more. Highly reputable Swiss made components and high cut precision timepieces are what makes Luminox so popular among military and civilian circles. Using years of experience, testing, refining and manufacturing, Luminox watches are hugely sought after.
For more info - visit Luminox website.
Why the Luminox - Navy SEAL Foundation Watch - 3251.CBNSF.SET?
Time stands still for no-one. With all of the available gadgets out there such as mobiles, radios, laptops and other electronic equipment that can tell the time, the simple watch is generally overlooked in the modern era. The requirement was simple, a no fuss, non-electronic / parts watch that's functional, cost effective, durable and is able to last the job. Having spent an age searching and researching a variety of brands and models from manufacturers across the globe, the Luminox brand caught my eye, specifically the Navy SEAL range. After even more research and review hunting, I came across the limited edition 3251 and it appeared to fit the bill.
Herein lies the product description from the website;
The Navy SEAL Foundation watch from Luminox combines durability with purpose. With the strap set, the watch provides versatility and functionality with two options rubber and nylon. The 45mm case in steel with its sand-colored dial and CARBONOX* bezel make for a handsome timepiece that reminds us of the call to duty every Navy SEAL answers and how we can support them after their courageous service to our country.
Origin: Swiss Made
Always Visible: Constant glow for up to 25 years
Size of case (diameter): 45 mm
Function: Time Date
Water resistance (meters, feet, ATM): 200 / 660 / 20
Movement: Swiss Quartz
Case material: 316L Stainless steel
Bezel: Uni-directional rotating
Case back:316L Stainless steel screw in
Crystal glass material: Sapphire crystal, anti-reflective coating
Crown: Screw in, double security gasket, crown protected
Strap / bracelet: Genuine rubber
Lug width: 24 mm
Case height: 14 mm
Weight: 105 g
*Luminox have produced a blog that explains CARBONOX in more detail - Luminox CARBONOX.
The 3251 was packaged in a black peli-case style box emblazoned with the Luminox logo and was packaged on the exterior within a card outer sleeve. The front face of the card sleeve features the Navy SEAL Foundation name and logo along with a image of the US flag. The top of the sleeve features another tri picture featuring the Luminox logo, US flag and NSF logo. The bottom of the sleeve provides information about the NSF and marketing information. The rear face of the sleeve features information about the Luminox Light Technology (LTT).
The NSF logo contains three parts; eagle, anchor and trident. Breaking these parts down, the eagle represents the air element of the SEAL name, with their ability to move globally via air transport. The anchor represents the sea element of specifically the Navy again with their ability to move across a sea environment. The third part, the trident represents a SEALs ability to fight in the harshest and most dangerous of environments.
The peli-case itself is featureless save for the LUMINOX logo affixed to the lid and a LUMINOX sticker on the front of the case. The case has 2 hinges at the rear whilst the front has a singular opening latch.
The interior of the peli-case features a shallow lid which has fitted a suede patch liner which is glued to the lid, this is then covered by removable black compressible foam. The main compartment measures 13.9 x 12.5 x 7.8 cm (W x D x H) . The compartment can be split into 4 areas; the central cut out in which the watch is present, tool cut out where the watch strap tool sits, the nylon strap cut out and the right hand side cut out win which the warranty card can be located. Other than these features, the interior is clean and void of anything else.
The NSF 3251 package contained;
NSF 3251 Watch (24mm rubber strap pre-fitted)
24mm Nylon strap
Watch strap tool
NSF 3251 exterior in detail
The NSF 3251 is a clean, rugged looking watch across the exterior, with a bold design, standout features and an attention to minute detail, make this watch very appealing.
NSF 3251 Measurements
Height 5cm (top of lugs)
The NSF 3251 weighs 105g (with battery & rubber strap fitted)
The Carbon coloured case is manufactured from SAE 316L Stainless steel which is also known as Marine Grade Stainless steel. It's used across a number of industries including; petro-chemical, medical and marine applications. 316L stainless steel is similar to 316 stainless steel although it has a lower carbon content meaning that it's more resistant to corrosion. It's worth noting though that stainless steel if constantly exposed to water / sea water can rust and corrode. The rear of the case is again 316L stainless steel and is a screw in cap. It has engraved in a central window the Navy SEAL Foundation logo. Around the exterior of the rear of the case are the words 'STAINLESS STEEL CASE - A/R COATED SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL - SERIES 3250 - 1 GBq H-3 LX - 200 METERS WATER RESISTANT'.
The bezel (which sits between the red circles in the image to the left) is manufactured from 316L stainless steel and coated in CARBONOX. CARBONOX is a carbon compound material that adds a layer of material onto the surface of the watch case and other parts that increases durability and combats temperature changes. Some key features of CARBONOX is its chemical resistance, non-metallic, anti-allergenic and anti-magnetic. The bezel itself can be turned / clicked in a counter-clockwise direction. At the 12 o'clock mark of the bezel is a vertical yellow LTT denoting the 60 minute mark and is the only LTT featured on the bezel. The edges of the bezel resemble a traditional machinery gear with numerous ridges which makes turning it when wet or when wearing gloves that bit easier.
The purpose of the crown is to enable the time and date to be altered, and it is again manufactured using 316L Stainless steel and it has on the flat surface been laser engraved with the Luminox logo. The exterior of the crown has raised ridges that enables the wearer to grip onto it and it is a typical screw in crown. Of note is that it has a double security gasket which means that 2 o-rings are used in the crown thread design that prevents water or dust entering the watch when adjusting the time or date window in adverse conditions. Finally the crown is protected by 2 metal nubs at the top and bottom of the watch (as seen in image one below) which prevents the crown catching on anything or at risk of damage.
Window / Glass
The crystal glass material used in the watch is Sapphire crystal. It is not glass at all and is in fact compressed crystallized aluminium oxide. This provides the watch with additional durability and scratch resistance however it is reflective, hence why the crystal is treated with an anti-reflective coating.
Luminox Light Technology (LLT)
The Luminox illumination glass tubes (some of which are highlighted in red in the image to the left), are designed to glow for up to 25 years. The self-powered micro gas (tritium) light tubes on the 3251 appear on the bezel at the 12 o'clock position, and within the chapter ring marking each hour. These tubes require no external power source and provide ample light to enable time to be read in the pitch dark.
The Chapter Ring (which sits between the red circles in the image to the left) is identified by the 'train track like' markings denoting minutes and features not only these markings, but also LTT blocks at every 5 minute positions. Notably, the 12 o'clock position LTT is yellow whilst the other LTT hour blocks are blue in colour, again to aid in quick identification of the time in low light.
The dial of the NSF 3251 is unique being sand-coloured unlike other Luminox watches available. The light tone used ensures that the markings / indexes stand out clearly. At the top is a featured black Luminox logo. Underneath the central point is the '200 METERS' depth 'readout'. At the bottom in small print is 'SWISS MADE'. Between the 4 and 5 o'clock position is 'T25' which is a lume rating.
The watch features three hands (hour, minute, second), each of which is fitted with a LTT and all disperse (illuminate) the same yellow colour. The hands are aesthetically pleasing and are similar to a spearhead or bullet in shape.
The indexes (which sit between the red circles in the image to the left) are all black on the dial and chapter ring. Even hours are denoted by numerals whilst odd hours are denoted by thicker black lines. An inner circle of numerals can be seen on the dial which are the 24 hour markings.
On the right hand side of the dial is the date window which features an inverted colour scheme of sand on black unlike the rest of the watch's markings.
The rear of the 3251 features a CARBONOX coated stainless steel screw in plate. Centrally featured is the NSF logo with the following words laser engraved around the main rear face 'STAINLESS STEEL CASE - A/R COATED SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL - SERIES 3250 - 1 GBq H-3 LX - 200 METERS WATER RESISTANT'.
The NSF 3251 comes with two straps, a black rubber strap and a sand coloured nylon strap as shown fitted in the images below.
The rubber strap is ruggedized and thick material with 9 adjustment holes, ranging from 3 - 5mm in places. The point side (lower part) has a raised Luminox logo at the tip. On the rear by the case end, another Luminox logo is engraved into the rubber along with the number 24. This signifies that the watch lugs are 24mm enabling any other 24mm strap to be attached. The buckle side (upper part) features two free loops, one of which can be semi fixed in place by being placed between four rubber nubs. The buckle itself has the Luminox logo engraved on it and is manufactured from 316L CARBONOX coated material. The rear of the buckle has CARBONOX engraved into it. The rear of the strap has a window section in which the words 'GENUINE RUBBER' are located. It also features towards the case end the number 24.
The nylon strap (part number FNX.9240.71B) is tan in colour and has 13 adjustment holes. The strap is approx 2mm thick in most places. The point and buckle sides do not feature any markings. The middle of the strap features a looped section onto which the 3251 is attached via the pins.
Changing the strap
To change the strap, you require the watch strap tool. The recommendation is to have a clear and clean space in which to work whilst care is needed as the strap pins are spring loaded and when released can fire off into the ether.
First the watch strap tool must be used to remove the pins as seen in image two. (Ensure you cover the watch to catch the pin when it's released). Remove the pins completely from the point and buckle parts of the strap. To fit the 3251 to the nylon strap the case must be laid on top of the central loop section of the strap and the pins inserted as seen in images seven and eight below. This central section provides a barrier between your wrist and the back of the watch and whilst it may look like the case itself will move, once fixed in position it won't.
Testing was initially done over a 4 week period where it was subjected to a number of different environments to see how well the 3251 held up. During this phase the 3251 was fitted with the rubber strap due to the daily exposure to water and likelihood that the rubber strap would cope better with hot and wet conditions.
Fresh water - exposure to 2-3 hours per day over a 12 day period which included splashing and full submersion. 3251 was fully readable underwater and when used in darker water, the LLT enabled the time still to be seen.
Salt water - exposure to 1-2 hours per day over a 12 day period which included splashing and full submersion. 3251 as expected had no issues. Dive to 20m produced no issues and as with the fresh water submersion, in darker waters the LLT was useful.
Sandy environment - exposure to 1-2 hours per day over a 12 day period which included light touch sand on exterior and full coverage of sand. As expected the sand did get into all of the cracks of the 3251 and using the dial you could hear where the odd grain of sand got caught (eventually being forced out via air gun and water) but there were no other issues. The glass remained scratch free even when wiped with a rough towel with sand present on its surface.
Hot environment - exposure was for approx 18 hours per day over a 12 day period. Other than the underside of the case and rubber strap getting sweaty, the strap gripped fast and there was no movement or noticeable issues at all.
Temperate environment - exposure was for approx 18 hours per day over a 16 day period. Nothing of note observed.
Depth diving - the 3251 is resistant to 200m (660ft) and it was worn during a recreational dive down to 20m. The watch continued to work perfectly and with the right light conditions was clearly visible.
Low Light / Night vision - using an L3Harris Gen3+ 2800+ FOM device the 3251 was no more visible than a standard watch at a distance of 5 - 25m during a good light night.
Accidental hit - during this testing phase I did also accidentally knock the glass with a fair whack against a horizontal scaffold pole. Having checked for quite a while under bright lights I found to my relief that there was no damage and noticeably not even a scratch on the glass. This is certainly a plus for having sapphire glass in the 3251 and is worthy of extra expenditure.
It's advisable to clean the 3251 at the end of each day. If you want gear to live long and prosper, I suggest that taking the 5 minutes at the end of a long day to clean the 3251 will look after it. Post salt water and sand exposure the 3251 was washed in fresh water with the majority of large water droplets being removed with a towel and then being left to air dry in a moderate temperature room. If you leave it covered in salt and sand its likely not going to last you a long time and will cause damage to an expensive piece. Battery life can last between 2 - 4 years and its recommended that the 3251 is serviced at least every 3 - 4 years, again a small cost to ensure your watch is working perfectly when you need it most.
Thoughts and opinion
The 3251 is a particularly unique set piece. The rugged CARBONOX exterior finish is to a high standard and is able to deal with most environments when well cared for. It's lack of electronic features was what also appealed to me as it's a simple no fuss watch. Being the 3251 variant also means that there are lesser numbers of this style and with part of the proceeds going to help the worthy cause of the Navy SEAL Foundation, the 3251 is well worth looking at.
The LLT enables the watch to be read in low light and very dark conditions all without the need of pressing additional buttons or relying on any electronic whilst lasting up to 25 years. Luminox have also ensured that the watch is able to withstand 200m depth of water and having tested it to 20m currently (recreational dive) this will likely appeal to divers too.
The two year warranty whilst not perfect is acceptable. As covered under the maintenance section, servicing the watch will likely extend its lifespan.
What I'd like to see for the 3251 is a hypalon like cover that can be placed over the dial when not in use to add a level of protection from bumps, scratches and inadvertent reflections when underwater.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.