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superluminova watches

Everything You Need to Know About Super-LumiNova Watches

Super-LumiNova is an applied fluorescent material that makes a timepiece glow in the dark to improve the watch's legibility. Explore here!
May 06, 2024

Glowing watches are not only about the enchanting appearance but also a practical function for watch enthusiasts. Super-LumiNova watches have been around for quite a while now. It allows the wearer to tell the time despite being in a dark environment. 

Watches that glow in the dark were once considered one of the most technologically advanced developments in horology. Throughout time, it still becomes a crucial part of a timepiece. Super-LumiNova is an example of a popular lume which is the most commonly used one. 

It becomes the go-to choice for many watch brands, especially considering it is a Swiss-made illumination product. Many renowned watch brands use Super-LumiNova to make their watches glow.

A Brief History of Lume Watches

As mentioned before, watches that glow or lume watches have been around since decades ago in 1910. It became a highly needed instrument, especially for the soldiers who needed a legible watch in the dark during World War I. Throughout time, some upgrades were made to suit the modern world. 

The glow in lume watches is a result of the mixture of radium and zinc sulfide. In the past, little knew that the mixture was a dangerous compound and highly radioactive. The discovery was found late when many workers died from the exposure. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t teach those manufacturers to find a safe alternative material. Instead, they produced another radioactive material called tritium. In fact, tritium is less harmful compared to the original mix used as a lume. Therefore, we can still find some manufacturers use tritium for their watches.  

Read also: The 5 Best Watches with Tritium that Glow Constantly

The First Use of Super-LumiNova

The story of Super-LumiNova can be traced back to 1940s during the World War II. It is Kenzo Nemoto who owns a luminous painting business and opens services to the Japanese military. After the war ended, he started using luminous coatings for watches and clocks. 

That marked the establishment of Nemoto & Co that after several years managed to introduce LumiNova, a new pigment technology called phosphorescence. The company, then, registered the patent of its invention and had the authority to give out licenses to other manufacturers. 

From then, the Swiss brand RC Tritec AG acquired the right to produce the luminous product under the name of Super-LumiNova. Therefore, Super-LumiNova is a Swiss-made LumiNova that many watch manufacturers use today. 

So, how does it differ from the original version?

Super-LumiNova is way safer than the original LumiNova. It doesn’t contain any radioactive chemicals which makes it safer for workers and wearers. The pigments used in Super-LumiNova flaunt great resistance to many environmental changes. 

Further, the product also meets the standard set by the European Chemicals Agency that further enhances its safety. Super-LumiNova is sold in powder with various qualities and colors that we’ll discuss in the next section.

Color Coded Coolness

As mentioned above, the manufacturers can choose among different grades and colors of Super-LumiNova. Some might use bluish lume while others use green lume or other color choices. Let’s have a detailed discussion below!

Afterglow Colors

Most Super-LumiNova watches have eight main afterglow colors, namely:

  • BL – Blue Line – blue emission
  • GL – Green Line – green emission
  • VL – Violet Line – violet emission
  • WL – White Line – complete white emission
  • YL – Yellow Line – yellow emission
  • OL – Orange Line – orange emission
  • PL – Pink Line – pink emission
  • UL – Ultramarine Line – ultramarine blue emission

Before the release of Super-LumiNova, blue and green are the most common colors on most luminous watches due to the way human eyes interpret the color brightness. But today, manufacturers can have wider choices, especially to further enhance the design. 

This invention made a breakthrough in the watchmaking industry as it brings many other opportunities. Further, RC Tritec also offers custom pigments for those who want to have specific hues to replicate or match a certain timepiece.

Grade Levels

Not only that Super-LumiNova comes with different afterglow colors but also qualities with several grade levels. There are different formulas for each grade that results in different lume performance. 

As of today, there are three grades of Super-LumiNova as listed below:

  • Standard Grade
  • Grade A
  • Grade X1

Grade X1 is the most recent formula and is considered the best-performing one than the others. It improves up to 60% after two hours compared to the Standard Grade although the company doesn’t release further information if compared to Grade A. 

Technically speaking, Super-LumiNova watches would glow brighter if the manufacturer applied multiple levels of lume to the watches. 

Gnomon’s Top Picks of Super-LumiNova Watches

We believe there are a lot of options available in the market for Super-LumiNova watches, but here are some of our recommendations that might help you sort out the list.

Squale Super-Squale Marine Explorer – Bracelet – Gnomon Exclusive

Squale watches have been known for their reliable diving tool watches that would perform in the most extreme conditions. One of which is the Super-Squale Marine Explorer – Bracelet with a complete package of reliable functions. With a simple blue dial, big markers, and hands, the watch already offers a clear and legible dial.

As one of our top picks for Super-LumiNova watches, the watch has been applied with Super-LumiNova on the handsets and hour markers, resulting in maximal legibility under a dark environment. Topping it off, the watch is fitted with a double-domed sapphire crystal for optimized clarity in time-reading.

Price: $990.00 USD

Read also: Glycine Combat Sub Review: A Vintage in Tactical Dive Watch

Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Handwinding Black 38 Ref. H69439931

In the second row, we recommend the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical Handwinding Black 38. It is a field watch designed with the durability to withstand rugged and harsh environments for military soldiers. The Khaki collection itself has been known for robustness and reliability.

The dial radiates a military-spec design with a clear and simple dial. It only consists of the 24-hour markers and Hamilton title to keep the sterile look. For a night watch-wearing experience, this timepiece has been applied with enough lume on the handsets and hour markers. It uses Green SuperLuminova which glows brightly in the dark.

Price: $545.00 USD

Dievas Maya MK III Sealab Green – Rubber

A bulky timepiece and multi-layered dial design, the Dievas Maya MK III Sealab Green appears as our favorite one among the others. It radiates a distinctive military design with a compromising look and design.

The watch might wear big as it measures 41.0mm wide, 13.8mm thick, and 49.0mm lug to lug – yet, doesn’t stop it to be well-fitted on both men’s and women’s wrists.

In the dark, the watch glows brightly and beautifully for Dievas has applied a good amount of Super-LumiNova on several parts, such as the handsets, hour markers, and bezel markers. With its green-yellow profile, the watch does give a pleasing design and view to look at.

Price: $1,090.00 USD

Damasko DK30

Next up, we have Damasko DK30 which is ready to accompany you with its casual, bold, and handsome look on day-to-day activities. The dial radiates simplicity with only white handsets, white bar hour markers, and the Damasko title against the black dial background.

As you can expect from the appearance, the watch flaunts durability and reliability. It’s durable considering the use of submarine steel for the case construction. As for the night reliability, Damasko used Superluminova X1 GL C1 White 10 which gives a bright glow on the handsets and bar hour markers.

Price: $1,420.00 USD

Glycine Combat SUB 42 Sports Bronze GMT Blue Ref. GL0317

Last but not least, the Glycine Combat SUB 42 Sports Bronze GMT Blue could be one of the best options for Super-LumiNova watches. It radiates a vintage appearance but carries a robust and reliable performance with the Swiss automatic movement SW330 GMT.

For legibility, the watch is fitted with a sapphire crystal with three layers of anti-reflective for better clarity under different lighting conditions. As for night legibility, the index has been applied with a good amount of SuperLuminova for superb glow-in-the-dark.

Price: $860.00 USD

Final Thought

Until today, Super-LumiNova remains the most popular technology used in a timepiece, especially among Swiss watch brands. The use of lume in a watch doesn’t only elevate the watch’s function and practicality but also enhances the design to look more appealing as a glow-in-the-dark watch.

You might also like: 5 Best Ultra Thin Watches for A Delicate Style

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