Daily Wear Extreme Lab II

Dec 28, 2019,19:37 PM

After a little over a year with the Extreme Lab 2 it has quickly become my daily driver! The combination of titanium, ceramic, and rubber on a massive strap with extendable buckle makes for a amazingly durable and wearable package for the daily grind. Work, travel, trade shows, walking the dog, weddings, skiing, swimming, beach, whatever the Extreme Lab is built for more than I'm going to throw at it and still comes out looking like new. 

The watch wears way smaller than it's size. The titanium keeps the weight down, the short ratcheting lugs and thick strap keep the whole thing close to the wrist, and the ultra wide strap (25mm tapering to 22mm) stabilizes the watch perfectly, it feels like a much much smaller watch eyes closed. The same sized steel IWC Big Pilot feels like an unbalanced anchor in comparison and even something like a traditionally sized Rolex sports model never felt this seamless wrapped around the wrist.

All business on the outside and then on the inside the movement has immense depth that's hard to really capture in photos but the open dial means you can enjoy it from both sides. Lots of skeletonized watches open to flat packed dense movements originally designed for more traditional packaging or simple open movements you can see right through. With over 500 parts crammed into a movement almost a centimeter tall with an asymmetric hand layout there are all sorts of different steps, layers, and voids in the movement. In person all the polished bevels and small parts in the movement light up against the brushed surfaces and shadowed crevices making for a really dynamic experience as the watch rotates to meet your eye.

All the complications in the watch have been thoughtfully done. The digital minutes chronograph is super functional and honestly just cool and fun to watch. JLC even skeletonized the hour and minute hands so the digital minutes are still visible through the hands when they over lap the counter at 12, nice touch! The crown based push button selector is a revelation, it makes screw down crowns feel decidedly old school. Being able to wind the watch when you pick it up and watch that power reserve slide without having to unscrew the crown is a great interaction with the watch, reminds me of having a manual wind. The separate GMT and Time setting modes are awesome too, never reset the time or hack the watch accidentally when you meant to just change the GMT hand after getting off the plane.

I've always been a fan of JLC and the Extreme Lab 2 has really grown on me in a way no other watch has. There are times when I'm wearing other watches and wonder why I didn't wear the Extreme Lab instead. After a year on the wrist I'm starting to think that this and a Duometre might all the watches I need and like the idea of spending more time building memories with just these pieces rather than keeping them in a rotation.

IMHO this watch was really ahead of its time and a stellar value from JLC that maybe didn't get the marketing it needed or the fame it deserved. If you're at all even just thinking about it I highly recommend going out and finding one, seeing it in person, trying it on, and I think you won't be disappointed. Even better, I'd love to see JLC update this and release something like an Extreme Lab 3, something really exciting to remind people of what the brand is capable of for a fraction of a Gyrotourbillon money. 

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Love this one!

 By: jleno : December 28th, 2019-19:57
Easily one of the coolest watches in the futuristic+sporty category.

Do I sense love here???

 By: ZSHSZ : December 28th, 2019-21:17
Congratulations, and I’m glad you found the watch that speaks to you the most. Hope it’s a keeper forever!

Thanks! Definitely a (surprise) keeper!

 By: Fastwong : December 29th, 2019-06:37
From the pics online I always respected the Extreme Lab 2 but didn't really love the aesthetics. There's a little bit of one eyed pirate going on with that hour and running seconds wheel and the movement can photograph a little flat. By chance I came acro... 

Fastwong, I agree with all you wrote. Great owner's review.

 By: amanico : December 29th, 2019-00:58
I had the pleasure to have it for a summer some 3 years ago, and it was a pain to give it back to Jaeger Lecoultre. Its wearability? Due to its short lugs and their shape, the watch hugs the wrist, yes. And yes, it wears smaller than its size on the paper...  

What a "test" watch!

 By: Fastwong : December 29th, 2019-13:47
It must be amazing to have time with all these great watches! It would be interesting to see your list of watches you most wanted to keep The blue definitely has its own character, I couldn't believe it when I ran across a new one at an AD over the summer...  

My personal grail.... Love the EL2 [nt]

 By: systematic.entropy : February 12th, 2020-07:02

superb owner’s review and perspective. you reminded me on why i love this watch in the first place

 By: Seeks : December 29th, 2019-06:03
Let me give my Lab II more wrist time in 2020. Here are some photos took awhile back. warmest regards ...  

Yes! Do it and report back!

 By: Fastwong : December 29th, 2019-15:20
My mission for 2020 is to figure out how to get a couple custom straps made with the correct hardware....

It is an awesome watch. Really showcases JLC’s engineering excellence and range.

 By: vitalsigns : December 29th, 2019-19:01
It makes me think: Richard Mille who? RIchard Mille why?

Who what why... ;) [nt]

 By: amanico : December 29th, 2019-23:49

;) [nt]

 By: amanico : December 30th, 2019-07:24

I forgot to ask!

 By: ZSHSZ : December 29th, 2019-22:42
Does it have a seconds indicator? If it does, it hacks? Just curious... Thank you! Zsolt.

Yes and yes! Glad you asked...

 By: Fastwong : December 30th, 2019-02:13
If you look closely at large 24 hour chrono register at 9 under the skeletonized hour hand is an inner blasted matte gray center wheel with a thin white line which is the running seconds. The running seconds wheel is centered perfectly within the outer ho... 

Thank you for the detailed description.

 By: ZSHSZ : December 30th, 2019-20:19
Now I love this watch even more, since having a “small seconds” indicator and a hacking function is very important to me... Continue enjoying this marvel of engineering and thank you for the detailed review! And lastly have a very Happy New Year!!!🎆 Best,... 

Totally Agree - what a great watch

 By: Colin W : December 30th, 2019-16:46
I got the RG version back in 2013 and still have it in my rotation- you get such a lot of watch for your money, great wearability and durability in daily use and limited production too. Would be great to get some other colour rubber straps for it though.

Yeah, needs more strap options!

 By: Fastwong : December 30th, 2019-16:56
Nice! I haven't seen the RG version irl yet but I imagine it must have a totally unique character to the titanium only models. I'm going to stop by the boutique this week to drop off a watch for service, will see what the deal is regarding strap hardware.... 

I asked the boutique today...

 By: Fastwong : January 2nd, 2020-20:55
... about custom straps and they said of course until I pulled out the Extreme Lab They said they will inquire and get back to me. They are doing a custom strap for the Duometre and it's ~12 week lead time.

I did! What don't you like about he oem strap?

 By: Fastwong : January 3rd, 2020-10:02
My Duometre came with a sketchy 22mm strap shaved a mm to fit so I haven't had a chance to try to original strap in good shape. The boutique had a solid selection of custom leather options (I went with a midnight blue) but customization is relatively limi... 

Wow!! the extreme lab... My holy grail!

 By: fherradon : January 3rd, 2020-02:28
Hopefully, we could see a small and affordable version in the near future. crossing fingers. best, Fernando

+1 [nt]

 By: proestak : January 3rd, 2020-02:49