In Focus Watches

ProTek are the Rugged Watch Brand Creating Timepieces for First Responders and the US Marine Corps

ProTek Official USMC Series

Lume is cool to see on any watch and a necessity for some, allowing the numerals to be read even in total darkness. It’s also a technology that’s been around for a while (even before scaring people in the Cold War) and is still improving, ever so slightly today. But what if I told you that the lume you’re used to, predominantly Super-LumiNova paint, might not be the best solution? No? Then you need to check out tritium gas.

We’ve covered Ball enough that many of you might already be familiar, but essentially it involves tubes of radioactive gas that glow under their own volition, and far, far brighter than any other luminescent material. It also lasts for 25 years without the need for a recharge. If you’ve not seen it before, you need to. Ball, however, aren’t the only ones using the rare type of lume; they’re not even the first. That would be Luminox – the original founder of which, Barry Cohen, is back with a new, equally glowy venture in ProTek.

ProTek Official USMC Series Lume

ProTek Official USMC Series

The name here is definitive. The Tek is self-explanatory, as they’re using the best lume technology in the industry. The ‘Pro’ on the other hand comes from the fact that it’s a brand developed specifically for first responders, professional life-savers. With just those facts in mind, you start to get a relatively solid impression of what to expect from a ProTek watch: rugged, all-terrain, all-lighting tool watches. In no piece is that more obvious than their official dive watch of the USMC.

It goes without saying that the United States Marine Corps are a demanding bunch of guys. One of the world’s elite military forces, seeing action across the world. They go through a 13-week boot camp just to start and their training only gets more demanding from there. They need a watch to match and the Protek USMC collection is more than up to the challenge. A chunky, hardwearing carbon composite case and bezel usable in all conditions, an equally-usable crown with a rubber grip and a tool watch dial illuminated by tritium gas, it’s as uncompromisingly rugged as the guys it’s designed for, complete with 300m water resistance. It’ll also set you back (because it is available for civilians too) a quartermaster-pleasing $450 – around £350.

ProTek Dive Series 1000

ProTek Dive Series 1000

Let’s dwell on that price for a moment. It’s easy to assume at that level that ProTek’s watches are fully Chinese made. You’d be wrong. The tritium gas is Swiss (and hard to get out of Switzerland), while the movements are quartz, yes, but the leading Miyota 2S60 3, with a 10-year battery life. And let’s be honest, when you’re after reliability and accuracy, a mechanical movement needs to be exceedingly good to match a quartz, and Miyota is known for its accuracy and robust nature. Each watch is also assembled in Hong Kong in the kind of clean room where a speck of dust is alarm- worthy. The watches are affordable yes, but don’t expect that to mean compromised.

It’s not just the USMC watches either. The Series 1000 Dive is the watch the Marine’s timepiece is based on. It shares the same military-grade carbon fibre case and generally layout and characteristics. The collection just offers more colours for a slightly less utilitarian look, with straps, crowns and chapter rings all sharing the same highlight colours.

ProTek Dive Series 2000

ProTek Dive Series 2000

If you’re bemoaning that carbon fibre just feels too light on the wrist (don’t worry, I’m in that camp too) then you might want to instead take a look at the Series 2000 Dive. The stainless steel makes for a weightier wrist presence, while the metallic dials with Nautilus-esque horizontal lines offers the kind of flair you might want in an everyday beater. They even have applied rather than painted numerals – less practical when getting knocked about, but a much more sophisticated look. Otherwise, the movement, specs and lume are all the same as their militaristic cousins.

ProTek Field Series 3000
ProTek Field Series 3000

ProTek Field Series 3000

The final collection in ProTek’s current line-up is my personal favourite, the Series 3000 Field. I love a field watch at the best of times (I own more Hamiltons than I should) and ProTek’s version is supremely cool. It has the same stripped back, rugged look the timekeeping sub-genre is known for, but the addition of elongated tritium gas tubes – in blue, green and orange – transforms it from a standard template to that very rare thing: a field watch with personality.

ProTek Field Series 3000

ProTek Field Series 3000

This is still early days for ProTek, but they’re already on the way up. Their combination of unique lume, incredibly solid build quality and the kind of specs that satisfy the USMC should be enough to satisfy the most demanding of adventurer. But even if you just want a cool, accessible diver (or that lovely field), there’s a lot to love. And there will be even more to love in the future.

More details at Protek. Enter ORACLE at the checkout to receive 20% discount.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.