To visit Chile‘s dry, high-altitude Atacama Desert offers unimaginable insight on Swiss watchmaker Luminox‘s rugged new Atacama Adventurer collection. The brand has become known for timepieces that hold up against extreme conditions. In fact, they’re the official watchmaker of choice for the US Navy SEALs, the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), and other military and stealth groups. But there’s no place in the world quite like Atacama and its unique demands. The characteristics of the Atacama Adventurer series meet these circumstances, and design details reference the desert plateau’s beauty.
The most obvious of synergies can be found referenced in the Swiss-made brand’s name: Luminox. Proprietary, self-powered luminous material glows from every dial (for up to 25 years) in all light conditions. The Atacama draws stargazers for its uncommonly dark skies and a crisp, astronomical clarity—due in part to its severe elevation. Our personal experience with the Atacama Adventurer series watches in the region—while on late-night star photography excursions—provided exemplary brightness. A quick glance to one’s wrist offered immediate readability, but it did not disturb our work. Stargazing and nightscape photography require strict timekeeping as the Earth shifts position, as do the constellations above.
From rolling sand dunes to jagged rock formations and miles of salt flats, the Atacama asks visitors to step carefully through its wonders. The 42mm stainless-steel case of each Atacama Adventurer combats the elements with elegance (as does the handsome version with gunmetal IP plating). Most importantly, it’s a thin watch and while substantial and sturdy, it doesn’t weigh down the wrist on long treks.
Protecting the face, there’s sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. Both the crown and casebook are screw-down, an attribute that helps keep the timepieces water resistant for 200 meters down. Be it the textile or leather strap, or the stainless-steel bracelet, all Luminox enclosure options underscore functionality. And, for the first time ever, the brand has introduced a seconds sub-dial to their watch faces with this series. This feature is conveyed unexpectedly through two symmetrical, paired spinning arrows.
Clearly, this collection was developed to handle rigorous conditions. Of equal important to Luminox, however, the casual design language allows the watch to hold its own during every-day adventures. The textured dial captivates, especially when it catches light. The brushed seconds sub-dial does much the same. Altogether, there’s balance—from the curvature of the lugs to futuristic font and numerals. All of these decisions allude to Atacama’s relationships with astronomers, space agencies and even satellites themselves. Altogether, these watches act as a reminder of the beauty found within Earth’s most extreme locations.
Six different variations of the Atacama Adventurer, all of which feature a Quartz Ronda 6004.D movement that offers 50 months of battery life, are now on sale in store and online. Prices start at $645.
Images by David Graver