In the world of survival hobby-ism, Bear Grylls has passed (unfairly, some would say) into the realm of goofy outdoor memes. But like him or not, the former star of ‘Man vs. Wild’ knows his way around dicey situations.
In some ways, Bear Grylls is a natural partner for Luminox. The brand’s penchant for rugged, adventure-forward timepieces can alienate folks looking for a more reserved approach to design.
So, when I received an email asking if I’d be interested in checking out the hilariously named “Bear Grylls Survival ECO Master Chronograph with #TIDE Recycled Ocean Material,” I didn’t expect to be interested.
But, I clicked the link and loved it! This strange, barely sub-$1,000 watch made from recycled plastic captured my heart over its all-too-short review period. Read on to see how I went from luxury survival skeptic to Luminox/Grylls apologist.
In short: This watch is silly, functionally hideous, and thoroughly lovable. And while $975 is a lot of money for a timepiece, Luminox’s eco-conscious construction, luxury touches, and strong feature set measure up to the price tag. Just be prepared to change the fabric band, eventually.
The #TIDE Effect
What exactly is this #TIDE nonsense, and why does it have a hashtag in front of it? In short, it’s the marketing label for Tide Ocean Material.
This company has found a way to collect ocean-bound plastic and spin it into a new manufacturing material. And like Luminox, the brand hails from Switzerland, so it makes sense that it would partner with a whole mess of watch companies.
One non-Swiss entry is the Timex Waterbury Ocean, which we reviewed. Its humble $99 price point is about a tenth of the Survival Master, so the #TIDE process itself must be fairly cost-effective.
Let’s dive into the watch itself to see where all that extra cash goes.
Luminox Bear Grylls Survival ECO Master Chronograph: Review
Specs and Stats
Like many timepieces from Luminox, the Survival Master is something of a … bear (sorry). Its steel-backed, recycled plastic case measures 45 mm in diameter and rises 14 mm from the wrist.
The 24mm strap, likewise made from “100% Recycled ocean-bound plastic material,” is blessedly wide enough to handle the watch’s girth.
Yet, I wouldn’t say that the Master is out of proportion. Its footprint and 85g weight are near the top end of what I’d consider acceptable for my average-sized wrist, but it wears comfortably and rides well.
Luminox made good use of the case’s space. Users will be treated to a screw-down crown, a 60-click unidirectional bezel, sapphire crystal, and 200 m of water resistance. The chronograph on its Swiss quartz movement is a personal favorite, and I found myself using it to time all manner of things.
While some cheaper analog chronos top out at 30 minutes or an hour, the Grylls will measure up to 12 hours before cycling back to zero.
You won’t find a tenth or hundredth of a second counter here, and that’s honestly fine. If you’re measuring things that closely, you should probably be relying on something more accurate than the reaction time of your thumb.
But the hallmark of Luminox is, as the name implies, its nighttime visibility. Check it out:
It’s something else, right? Instead of glowing paint, this brand utilizes tritium tubes, which constantly emit a visible glow. This means that, despite its outdoor pedigree, you won’t have to rely on the sun to charge your lume. You could take this watch spelunking for a few years, and it’ll keep on shining.
That said, tritium is a radioactive material. So, there’s the half-life issue to consider. According to Luminox, the glow is rated “Constant glow for up to 25 years.”
That’s a respectable chunk of time, given the unavoidable physics of the equation.
A quick note about the #TIDE case itself. While Timex’s version had an interesting, speckled approach, the Luminox appears almost translucent. In both cases, there’s some genuine visual interest that speaks to the versatility of the material.
This helps elevate what could have been a simple plastic case into the realm its price commands.
There is one point where the case could use some extra work. Four points, actually — the tips of each of its plastic lugs. These are a bit sharp, though at no point did they dig into my wrist.
You’ll really only notice this if you run your fingers across the top of the straps. I have some concerns here too, specifically near the bottom of the lower strap.
While the plastic canvas is plush and comfortable, I can already see it starting to fuzz at the edges. This isn’t a big issue, and the thickness of the material should hold out. But it was something that bears mentioning.
Lastly, the face is definitely rather busy. And the “Never Give Up” and “SOS Code” inscriptions are a little silly. But they’re also part of the charm.
Despite its cluttered nature, the watch’s distinct hands make it (usually) readable at a glance.
Luminox Bear Grylls Survival ECO Master Chronograph: Conclusion
So, that’s what you’re getting for your thousand-dollar investment: a radioactive stopwatch made of recycled plastic that’ll tell you the time and date.
But while I struggled to find value in the nearly $6,000 Bremont Savanna, I think it’s actually fairly obvious here.
With its interesting design, rugged pedigree, and fascinating eco-friendly production, Luminox has created something that’s more than the sum of its parts. And boy, are there a lot of parts.
Even the celebrity backing kind of works in this instance, with its neat touches and tasteful restraint. If you’ve got around $1,000 to blow on an adventure watch, the Bear Grylls Survival Master is a solid option.
But, if you’re not ready to drop that kind of cash, Luminox does offer several other models under the #TIDE banner. Though they may not carry the full features and lume of the watch shown here, it’s great to see the same tech being offered at a more approachable price.