Luminox positions their brand as uniquely suited to the spirit of adventure. Their customer list is impressive: U.S. Navy SEALs, IDF Special Forces, U.S. Coast Guard, the USAF, the Singapore Air Force, police departments, fire departments and high level athletes around the world. Does the Luminox Sea Turtle fulfill the needs of normal watch enthusiasts?
Luminox fashions the Giant Sea Turtle’s 44mm case out of a material the watchmaker calls Carbonox Carbon Compound. From what I can find, it’s basically a fancy fiberglass made of long and short carbon fibers mixed with epoxy and compressed down to its final shape.
While details may differ, this sounds a lot like the “forged carbon fiber” that’s becoming a popular watchmaking material at much higher price points. Luminox says that the caseback and bezel also use this material.
Out front: a scratch resistant and AR-coated mineral crystal protecting a dark dial with bold, sans serif numerals with 12 and 24 hour indicators and a small date window at three o’clock.
The syringe-shaped hands are similarly bold. This ultra-legible dial is my favorite thing about the Sea Turtle – the time is immediately readable at a glance in just about any situation.
The Sea Turtle features Luminox’s LLT tritium gas tube illumination. The tiny tubes – continuously luminous for 25 years – give the watch its signature tactical look.
Luminox positions the Sea Turtle’s luminous tubes on the hour and minute hand and every 10 minutes on the periphery of the dial. The tubes are all they’re made out to be – they provide reliable luminescence that never varies, overpowers or fades out.
You can be equally confident in the watch’s accuracy. The Sea Turtle’s powered by a durable, time-tested Ronda H515 quartz movement. Luminox claims a battery life of 50 months. It’s nothing fancy, but the engine will never give you a reason to complain.
For me, the on-wrist experience is all that matters, especially for a tool watch. While I can suffer a bit for fashion with a dress watch, a tool watch needs to be something I don’t have to think about. That’s where the Luminox Sea Turtle really delivers.
Without a strap, the Sea Turtle weighs in at 26 grams. For reference, that’s about as much as a single AA battery or two compact discs. It’s so light that you forget you’re wearing it.
There’s absolutely no pendulum effect, no heavy watch case sliding around your wrist and reminding you of its presence. In every situation the Sea Turtle is just…there. Like the best personal relationships, it never demands your attention.
The Sea Turtle is durable enough to hold up to just about anything. My COVID-driven home projects have seen me dowse the Luminox in dirt, saw dust, drywall compound and metal shavings. It’s been exposed to heavy detergents and high pressure water. It’s been slathered in motor oil and blasted with brake parts cleaner.
The Sea Turtle shows no scratches, stains, condensation or damage of any kind. It just keeps ticking.
While it’s well made, the Sea Turtle obviously isn’t high – or even medium – horology. (Think G-SHOCK not Seiko Prospex.) Luminox equips the Sea Turtle with a rubber strap that is quite stiff, especially near the lugs. Though I suspect it will last forever, conformance seekers will want to swap it out. I put our tester on a $12 Perlon one-piece NATO and it’s damned near perfect.
What price durability? Luminox lists the Leatherback Sea Turtle on their website at $295. That’s a good deal, but you can do better. Choose a colorway you like and shop around – you’ll likely find what you want for less than $200.
You don’t have to be a warrior, first responder or athlete to enjoy the Luminox Leatherback Sea Turtle. The spirit of adventure can take many forms – hell, these days a slow walk with the dog may be enough. If you’re looking for a cheap, useful and durable companion for those journeys this Luminox is a great choice.
Model: Luminox Leatherback Sea Turtle Giant
Case: Carbonox fiberglass composite, 44 mm diameter x 12.15 mm thick
Movement: Ronda H515 quartz
Bezel: Unidirectional with 60 minute markings and luminous pip
Crystal: AR coated mineral
Strap: Silicone rubber
Weight: 26 grams
Water resistance: 100m (330 ft)
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * * *
Beautifully ugly! Form follows function in the tool watch world, and this big, black tool watch works very well.
Legibility * * * * *
The time is perfectly legible day, night or other.
Comfort * * * * *
Twenty-six grams. I’ve had wedding rings that weigh more.
Overall * * * * *
The Ron Swanson of watches – it knows what it’s supposed to do and just does it.
Very nice review! Is that a muscle car blurred out in one of the above photos?
Its too big for me. I need the 301, on sale!
How did you change the strap? I want to get a NATO Zulu for my Leatherback.
I’m pretty sure they are normal spring bars. I have an article here if you search, but they are pretty much miniature toilet paper holder tubes, except with little shoulders that can be pressed in with a spring bar tool, or a small flat head screwdriver, or a butter knife, or wreck a thumbnail.
If you don’t care about the old band, it can just be cut off as well.
They actually have their own video on it:
A great review and well written! My Leatherback Sea Turtle is relatively new but everyday that I wear it the more personal it becomes. I like the techno appearance (former USMC and rated pilot) so the watch fits into my persona perfectly. I’ve only had it for less than a month but so far so good… if I get 3-5 years of good service I’ll be happy, if the watch lasts longer then it’s a home run.