Review of the Lum-Tech M63-XL
I hear from a lot of my fans that they miss my online watch reviews. For the last year or so I’ve actually been doing quite a few watch reviews in print for WRIST WATCH magazine and ABOUT TIME magazine – however it has been a while since I’ve done an online watch review. But when I heard that my good friends at LÜM-TEC had FINALLY released their line of Cobalt watches, I knew I had to get my hands on one for review.
One of the great things about LÜM-TEC is the company’s passion for pushing the boundaries of innovation. Of course anyone who is familiar with LÜM-TEC knows how much innovation they’ve done in the area of luminous compounds which are used on watch dials. LÜM-TEC is also known for using very innovative and exotic materials for their cases. Prior to the Cobalt line of LÜM-TEC watches, LÜM-TEC offered a line of Tungsten watches. Here’s the M27 – a GMT model which had a case constructed from Tungsten:
The reason Tungsten was chosen for case material is the extreme hardness of Tungsten – it made the case of the M27 all but impossible to scratch even with the highly polished finish. While the scratch resistance was a very desirable attribute for using tungsten in case construction, it was not without its downsides. The tungsten cases lacked tensile strength – several users reported snapping off case lugs while doing strap changes. Tungsten is also much heavier than stainless steel – I found my M27 could be uncomfortable at times as a result. The material also proved extremely difficult to shape and machine, generating a high scrap rate for both bracelets and cases.
Fast forward to 2012, and LÜM-TEC began discussing the use of another exotic, scratch-resistant case material on their official forum on WATCH TALK FORUMS, and officially announced the M Cobalt line of M Autos in January of 2013 featuring cases constructed from a cobalt chromium alloy. One year later, the first models began shipping. Here’s a photo of the M63-XL:
The M Cobalt line is comprised of four different dial/strap variations each coming in a “regular” 40mm case size, and the XL versions in 44mm. Despite the larger size, I found that the M63-XL dial actually looked smaller than what I’m used to seeing. Upon closer examination, the M63-XL case has flatter, wider bezel than other LÜM-TEC M Autos I’ve seen in the past – the larger bezel gives the illusion of a smaller dial. Being considerably harder than stainless steel, there isn’t as much detailed milling done on the cobalt chromium cases as I’ve seen on other LÜM-TEC watches but the M63-XL case is very attractive – here’s a photo where you can see more detail on the case:
The oversized screw lock crown is constructed from stainless steel and incorporates a “double diamond” sealing system which contributes to the 100m water resistance of the M63-XL case.
If you look closely at the dial in the above photo (click on any photo for a larger version) you’ll see the raised numerals and markers of the, 3D CNC “sandwich dial” – the design of which allows for many layers of LÜM-TEC’s “MDV” luminous compound to be applied. This layering process results in unparalleled luminescent glow from the dial – it’s bright even by LÜM-TEC standards and stays that way throughout the night:
The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal which has a clear anti-reflective coating applied to both sides of the crystal. I’ve gone on record many times as being against coating the top side of a sapphire crystal (which is scratch resistant…unlike the AR coating applied to it) but I have to say it’s a fantastic coating. Dial obscurement from light glare is all but eliminated and there is no discernible color cast from the coating on the dial -it’s a truly “clear” coating. I’ve seen AR coatings used by Swiss watch manufacturers which cost several times the retail price of the M63-XL (Breitling comes immediately to mind) who have an AR coating on their crystals which casts a blue hue on the watch dial. That’s not the case with the AR coating used by LÜM-TEC.
Like most LÜM-TEC, the M63-XL comes with a couple of strap choices – the leather strap (pictured above) and a black rubber strap:
Speaking for myself, because the watch is scratch resistant, I’m going to be wearing it more when I’m engaged in activities which could be damaging to a nice leather strap – that’s where the rubber strap comes in handy. It’s very attractive and comfortable – I just wish it had the same “quick change” spring bars found in the included leather strap. Still, doing a strap change with the rubber strap using standard spring bars is a simple matter – and much less worrisome knowing you won’t scratch the case. Not included with the M63-XL is a metal bracelet and quite frankly, I think it’s a good thing. The bracelet which was included in the above mentioned M27 tungsten model was never worn by myself and I don’t know many LÜM-TEC fans who wear metal bracelets on many of theirLÜM-TEC watches. Again, with M27, the bracelet added to the price of the watch and sat in the box.
Turning to the back side of the M63-XL, we find that the screw down case back with sapphire exhibition window is constructed from stainless steel. Since the case back sits against your wrist, it’s obviously in low to no danger of getting scratched so it makes sense to make the case back from stainless steel and save a few bucks.
The exhibition window provides a nice view of the Miyoto 9015 movement which powers the M63-XL. The Miyota 9015 is a high-beat Japanese self-winding mechanical movement with 24 jewels, 28,800 vph, (vibrations per hour) a power reserve of over 42 hours, and a unidirectional winding rotor. The movement was introduced in 2009 and I believe LÜM-TEC started using the movement in 2011, and it’s quickly established itself as a very viable alternative to the nearly impossible to source Swiss ETA movements like the ETA 2824.
In addition to my written photo review, I’ve recorded a video supplement to get some video footage of this fantastic watch:
The LÜM-TEC’ M63-XL may be their best watch yet. It’s dripping with innovation (case materials, dial manufacturing techniques, etc.) which actually translates to a better product for the consumer – LÜM-TEC’ doesn’t do innovation for innovations sake. Great case. Great dial. Great movement. Great watch! Way to go LÜM-TEC! I’ll leave you with this wrist shot of the M63-XL on this custom black leather strap:
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.