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Nick North taucht tief in unsere Partnerschaft mit den Navy SEALs ein

Nick North Dives Deep into our Partnership with the Navy SEALs

As we celebrate our 35th anniversary, we caught up with Nick North, the Assistant Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Officer of the Navy SEAL unit in 1992, to discuss the partnership formed between Luminox and the Navy SEALs, the rigorous testing process and the development of the Navy SEAL Original 3000 watch. It’s awesome to hear from Nick!

Luminox: What inspired this quest to find a watch for the Navy SEALs, and what challenges were you facing?
Nick North: The SEAL Teams are always looking for improved and innovative gear for missions. In the case of watches we needed a time piece that was reliable in any global environment.

Luminox: What specific criteria were you looking for in a watch to withstand the rigors of night missions?
Nick North: A watch, as a first line tool in special operations has, of course, the basic functions of any time piece. However, in our environment a watch is critical for mission success. If explosives are involved the timing of the fuse is important. The meeting of another operational element or team at a certain place in time is critical, as is arrival at a specific area for mission extract. Consider, miss your extract element and it is a long and dangerous walk back to base.

Luminox: Why were you looking for an analog watch, as opposed to digital? What is the reasoning for that requirement?
Nick North: We were looking for a reliable time piece that could survive our areas of operation; sea, air, land and under the sea. Digital watches were just seeing the market. So, we were not looking for one technology or the other. We needed a time piece that was accurate and would survive.

Luminox: What led you to identify Luminox as the ideal partner for this venture? Were there specific features or qualities that set Luminox apart from other watch brands?
Nick North: Luminox was very new when I came across them at a winter trade show in Utah. I asked the Luminox reps to submit samples of the original 3001 model for testing and they agreed.

Luminox: How did Luminox's Light Technology (LLT) contribute to meeting the unique requirements of Navy SEALs? Could just a normal light or SuperLumiNova work for telling the time in the dark?
Nick North: The original Luminox watch met accurate time, night visibility and diving depth requirements. Most importantly, of all the brands that were subjected to the rigorous testing conducted by Navy Special Warfare Group 1, Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Luminox was the only brand to survive.

Luminox: What kind of testing did you perform to ensure it could stand up to the rigors of Navy SEAL missions?
Nick North: Whenever we developed a testing process, we always considered what are they going to do with it. All of the watches were subjected to:

  1. They were worn by SEALs during realistic training operations. That would include diving, rock climbing, parachuting and other operations “normal” to special operations missions.
    A lot of the brands didn’t survive field testing. This is when buttons broke or froze or the watch leaked. It was during night land operations and night diving that the Luminox Light Technology came into its own. The operators could read the watch all night without the luminosity fade.
  2. We actually placed the watches in an oven to simulate the trunk of a car in the desert in high summer which can exceed 120 degrees.
  3. We placed them in a freezer to simulate arctic conditions in deep winter.
  4. And we pressed in a pressure pot to ensure water depth pressure proof as advertised.

Luminox survived them all.

Luminox: Can you share any memorable moments and anecdotes from the early stages of the collaboration with Luminox?
Nick North: The memorable events were actually negative comments on other brands. One anecdote was from an officer who used a watch while in a night “overwatch” exercise. He told me that he activated his watch’s light to get the time and it lit up the entire hideout. He had to cover the watch quickly to avoid detection. That watch was useless to him for the rest of the night.

Luminox: Can you highlight specific instances where Luminox watches have proven invaluable in challenging situations?
Nick North: Yeah, the challenging situations, the primary advantage Luminox has, aside from real survivability and reliable accuracy, is the ability to be read all night. There are no phosphorous dots to wear out or fade. If a watch can no longer be read at 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning, it’s of no value, if that when the primary part of your mission is occurring.

Luminox: Reflecting on the legacy of the Luminox Navy SEAL watches, what do you believe has been the lasting impact of this collaboration?
Nick North: Luminox has continued to provide the time piece we need that is reliable and survivable. I conducted the Original watch evaluation in the early 1990s. Only Luminox survived. Another watch evaluation was conducted in 2014, 20 years later. Again Luminox came out on top. As to collaboration, I deeply appreciate Luminox’s support of our Naval Special Warfare charities. An example is the Luminox line of Navy SEAL Foundation (NSF) watches. They send an annual donation to support the community.

Luminox: Are there any individual Navy SEAL missions or operations where the Luminox watches played a significant role that you can share with us?
Nick North: This is where we don’t talk about it. Those who do are looked down on.

Luminox: Are there any specific mantras or quotes from your time as a SEAL that are meaningful to you?
Nick North: The most memorable mantra that you’re going to hear in the SEAL community that has always meant something to me is, as is true in life, the mantra that stands out for me is the old tried and true “the only easy day was yesterday”. That goes for equipment too.


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