CORREGIDOR ISLANDThirty years into the game and it seems Luminox is going through a reintroduction of sorts in the Philippines. With its new retail partner in the country, the Lucerne Group, the watch brand showcased just how tough its timepieces are through its “Siege & Strike” media event held in early April.

The event brought together members of the Philippine Armed Forces (the Army, Navy, and Air Force), the brand’s newest ambassadors/elite runners of Spartan Philippines, and media representatives to take part in day and night physically-demanding, tactical challenges that put themselves and the watches to the test.

Photo courtesy of Luminox Philippines

New era, new partnerships

Luminox has proudly been in the Philippines since its inception in 1989. But to make sure they increase their market share and improve their presence in the country, the watch brand partnered with the Lucerne Group. The two companies kicked off the partnership by becoming the Official Timing Partner of the 2019 Spartan Races in the country.

It’s an ideal partnership as Spartan Races are courses that are designed to mimic what Navy SEALs or Army groundwork feels like. The races are designed with countless unique and challenging obstacles that combine physical activities like running, climbing, crawling, and lifting. It’s considered the “toughest race out there.”

Luminox markets itself as essential gear for every Spartan. As Luminox claims to be “durable, dependable adventure gear,” what better timepiece to complement the effort needed for these races?

Photo courtesy of Luminox Philippines

A look back

Right from the start, Luminox was a watch brand that put its focus on the durability, usefulness, and dependability of its timepieces.

One of its founders, Barry Cohen, has been in the fashion watch business for some time when he discovered a Swiss self-powered illumination system that would make watches more visible and easier to read in low or no light situations. He wanted to launch a brand that would use this technology and asked his friend Richard Timbo to join him.Cohen researched Latin to find a name that defined the technology he found. And he discovered Luminox—Lumi is Latin for light and Nox is Latin for night. He then designed the shield logo and the brand was born.

Later on, Timbo and Cohen sold their shares in the company to two Swiss gentlemen (Ronnie and Andre Bernheim) who have a long history in the Swiss watchmaking industry and the company continued to grow and expand its presence around the world.

“It’s important to understand the DNA of the brand,” said Andrés Poy, regional brand manager of Luminox and Mondaine for the Asia Pacific. “The brand is founded in 1989, just 30 years ago. Now, we are celebrating in 2019, the 30th anniversary. It is true that at the very beginning we started only making watches for professional people—for the Army, for the Navy SEALs. But after that we started expanding the sales of our watches to civilians and we can say that today many people feel engagement with our brand because the principles of the brand are the durability of the watch, the reliability.”

“These are watches you can use in any kind of occasion,” Poy added. “You can use [them] in outdoor activities, but many people obviously they are not [as sporty as others] … they don’t belong in the special troops. They don’t belong to the Army. They are normal people like you and I, but they like this kind of active lifestyle. And this is our target [market]. We are not making classy watches, we are not making dressy watches. This is the kind of sport watch that you can use in outdoor activities.”

Luminox has expanded its collection to include a variety of styles, created for the active consumer, the sportsman, law enforcement, military groups, divers, and more. Currently, Luminox is distributed in 50 countries around the world and supplies elite units all over the world.

Inspect the tech

All Luminox watches are Swiss made and produced by Luminox’s Zurich-based corporate partner, Mondaine Watch Company. With more than 60 years of experience, Mondaine produces the complicated Luminox watches in their manufacturing facilities located in Solothurn, Switzerland.

When we talk about complicated, we dive into the tech that powers these functional timepieces. As seen in the company’s name, it refers to the illumination technology in these high-performance sports watches. The Luminox Light Technology makes these watches “Always Visible,” as their tagline suggests. It allows these watches to provide 24/7 luminosity for up to 25 years—no matter what condition.

While other watches use luminescent paint that needs to be charged by a light source and fades quickly or use a “push to light” system with battery-driven illumination, Luminox uses proprietary technology that they used to reserve for the military to make these watches literally stand out and be readable under any condition.

Andrés Poy, regional brand manager of Luminox and Mondaine for the Asia Pacific (Photo courtesy of Luminox Philippines)

Poy explained the Armed Forces get different colors for the watches specifically designed for them. Some get blue lights, others get red, depending on what unit needs them. “We are placing blue lights or red lights because red lights are less visible in the darkness than blue lights,” he said.

Each Luminox watch has tiny gas lights (borosilicate glass capsules) that are always lit and placed on the hands, hour markers, and, when necessary, bezels. Luminox claims this makes it more complicated, expensive, and time-consuming to make than regular luminescence, but this is what makes them stand out from their competition.

On top of Luminox’s proprietary Light Technology, these watches also feature an innovative compound that makes these watches ultra-lightweight. There’s Carbonox, which is six times lighter than steel and three times lighter than titanium. It’s non-metallic, anti-allergenic, and anti-magnetic. The material also has strong chemical resistance, extremely low thermal extension, low heat expansion, and is waterproof. It creates a rigid, hard finished watch case that elevates the ruggedness and durability of these watches.

Photo courtesy of Luminox Philippines

There’s also Carbonox+, which is a high-performance carbon long bar compound that provides the same benefits as Carbonox. It provides tensile strength twice as great as Carbonox while also giving that distinctive gray color of the Luminox watches.

As expected, these watches are put through rigorous testing to make sure they can withstand the harshest conditions.

“We normally like to make different tests to the watches,” Poy explained. “I remember people from our team, they were testing our watches by putting it inside a glass of water and the glass of water inside the freezer. And then the watch was in the freezer for almost one week. And after that, the watch was still working perfectly. We also have [people] throwing the watch from a building, from the fifth or sixth floor… it doesn’t mean that the watches are indestructible because this is [still] a watch. It can be used in these kind of tough situations.”

He added, “This is like a four-wheel drive car. This is a car that’s specially made to go to these kind of environments. The car is made to perform better than all the regular cars but they also can break. For us what is important is to always follow the standards of quality as a Swiss-made watch. And after that, we are also very proud because the percentage of quality issues in our watches is very, very low. It’s always under three percent.”

Making real watches

When we asked Poy what the brand’s secret to success is, he said, “We are not a fashion brand, we are not a marketing brand. We are really making real watches… we are a real brand. We’re not making bullshit.”

He added, “Today there are many brands, I’m not just thinking about watches… There are many brands that are doing a lot of marketing. But finally, there is no essence behind the marketing. Everything is related to communication and nice pictures and nice ambassadors. But this is not our thing. We are really focusing in the product. We try to make the best quality value watch in order to provide to our customers. I know in some countries, like here in the Philippines, they do a real effort when they buy a Luminox watch and then these customers, they deserve to get the best product possible.”

You can consider these watches as investments. Some of the new watches Luminox is promoting include the XS.3501.L and XS.3507, which are both priced at P23,950; the XS.3581.BO and XS.3581.EY, which are priced at P29,950; and the premium XS.1523, which is priced at P114,450.

The watchmaker keeps a stable collection of 100 different watches in its catalogue. They replace 15 watches every year to introduce new models.

As of this writing, there are 10 points of sale nationwide where the Luminox watches can be purchased: Wristpod branches at Rockwell Power Plant Mall, Uptown Mall, and Ayala Malls Feliz; Swissgear branches TriNoma and Greenbelt; Elemento at SM Aura; Chronos branches at SM North EDSA and Shangri-La Plaza; Le Temps at Resorts World Manila; and Lucerne at Glorietta.