Daily Wear Extreme Lab II
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.