To break the ice, I’m going to start this review with some numbers; 46,25 x 60 x 13,35. Yes, that’s right, 46,25mm across, 60mm from lug to lug and 13,35mm from top to bottom. But before you log out and start running for the hills, let me bring some soothing words to calm you down, soothing words from a guy with 6,5-inch wrists. The Laco Atacama 2, as its predecessors, fits like few others. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a big watch, but due to an interesting and very cool design, a bit Triton’esque, where the crown is placed at 12 o’clock, the lugs are flexible and the bottom measures only 28mm, the Atacama 2 is very comfortable to wear. It might take a little while to get used to the looks of the length, but for me, that part is one of the elements that make this watch tougher than most, a bit quirky and close to iconic. If you look at Laco’s other squad watches, except the Scorpion series, the Ocean and Seven Seas have the same long and massive feel, only with ordinary lugs.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a review of the Laco Atlantik RB and you’d might think this next review would be of one of their classic fliegers, like the new Aachen or Augsburg Taupe? As much as I love those models, I prefer to write about the Squad watches, watches I think go under the radar for far too many. If you ask yourself what kind of watch you think of when hearing the name Laco, fliegers is the answer for most of you. Being one of the five official manufacturers of Luftwaffe’s legendary B-Uhr, it’s obvious that these watches are the backbone of their history and their trademark, but Laco has a catalogue stretching far beyond this. In fact, when visiting their site, you’ll have 168 choices to pick from, 78 of those are fliegers and 90 are from other categories like Navy, Squad, Chronographs, Limited Editions, Classics and Vintage.
Back to the Atacama 2, the saucer-shaped tool watch. In cooperation with the German Army and special units, Laco has developed a watch meant for emergency forces, police, military and for those needing a robust and reliable companion for outdoor activities. If you are to bring your Atacama 2 below the surface, 50 atmospheres are the limit if you want it to last for another dive. If we take a closer look at the case, there are a few things that stand out from many other watches. The 46mm, clean face is divided into three massive layers, or floors. The 60 click, unidirectional bezel has an anti-clockwise countdown feature that works perfectly when you need to coordinate several operations. Due to the shape of the watch and the texture on the outer edge of the bezel, the grip is superb and when you operate it, you’ll notice how solid and smooth it is. At twelve o’clock, Laco has placed a big, bright triangle, filled with a solid amount of luminous paint. One floor below, you’ll find the large chapter ring with luminous indexes, adding a ton to the overall readability. Another floor down, the clean, black dial with its easy to read numerals, indexes and hands bring it all together. This is also the main change from the first Atacama, where indexes were placed on the dial whilst numerals covered the chapter ring. The face of the Atacama 2 is all about simplicity, legibility and functionality, day and night, as the Super LumiNova C3 and Orange shines bright. To keep a perfect symmetry, the date is nicely placed at six o’clock, with black numbers on a white background. A large, flat sapphire crystal with internal AR-coating is used to keep things safe and increase the readability.
Another part that really stands out is the crown placed at twelve o’clock and how it’s protected by the solid and flexible lugs. By putting the crown on top, you won’t be bothered with it drilling into your hand when being active. Another cool aspect when placing the crown on top is that the Atacama 2 doesn’t care if you’re left- or right-handed. Laco also offers two different rubber straps, making the watch fit wrists from 14cm to 23cm. If you’re in the lower part of that scale, just as me, don’t worry, the saucer-shaped case makes it very pleasant on the wrist.
I love that Laco keeps the Atacama all black, brushed and bold. If I could change one thing with the watch, it would be the sapphire exhibition caseback. I usually enjoy being able to see the movement, but this time I would prefer not to. There’s nothing wrong with the looks of the Laco 24 movement, using ETA 2824-2 as base, but a closed caseback with a mean emblem would make this PVD-beast even cooler.
The solid lugs are quite a feature, screwed to the case and fastened to the rubber strap by spring bars, functioning perfectly as a crown guard. They look very militant and add a lot to the tool-appearance when the watch is on the wrist. The solid rubber strap is soft and durable and wearing the watch for longer periods, in different elements is no problem at all. I like that Laco has kept the width to 22mm and not went for the massive 24mm often seen on watches this big. The “slim” strap, tapering to 20mm at the buckle, suits the case nicely, letting its shape be the dominant design.
So, wrapping it all up, the Laco Atacama 2 is a serios watch, a seriously cool watch that will handle most challenges. Even if it’s one of the biggest watches I’ve tried on, don’t let the numbers fool you, this watch is very smooth on the wrist. As always, Laco offers different upgrades and extras. If accuracy is your thing, you’ll be able to upgrade the movement from elaboré to top grade. For those who wants to personalize the watch, Laco will engrave it, with a maximum of ten characters. And as mentioned before, you’ll get the option to order an extra rubber strap to make it fit perfectly.
For me, the Atacama 2 and its predecessors, are some of the coolest pieces Laco have made. They are so different, both quirky and mean, packed with toughness and high-quality components and parts. If Laco, for some reason, decides to discontinue these watches, next generations will see them as cult watches and collectors’ items, rarely listed on what will be the preferred, future website or marketplace. If you’re sitting on the fence, wondering if you should try one of these, hesitate no more, the Atacama 2 is just as cool as it looks.