In watchmaking, the illumination technology was initially introduced in tool-watches, specially created for military personals. The primary aim was to illuminate the dial of the watch for ensuring optimum visibility around the clock and in any light conditions. Initially, Radium-based luminescent material was employed for illuminating the hands and indexes on the dial. However, due to its radiation hazards, the watchmakers switched over to other modern technologies.
At present, watch brands make use of various methods to illuminate the dials of their timepieces. Two prominent examples are luminescent paint and tritium micro-gas tube. In this article, we highlight five top luminous watches currently available in the market.
1. Panerai Luminor Marina Fibratech™ 44mm (PAM01119)
Panerai has been known for the company’s rich heritage in the luminescence technology that provides optimum readability of the dial indications. The company has been utilizing luminescent features since the 1950s for its military watches. The Luminor family follows this tradition. The most recent addition to this collection is the Luminor Marina Fibratech™ 44mm limited edition watch.
The watch case is made with a unique material called Fibratech™, developed by Panerai. Equipped with twin spring barrels, the in-house automatic movement provides a power reserve of three days. Its anthracite dial with sunray finish and sandwich structure features large-hour markers and Arabic numerals. The dial hosts center hour & minute hands, small-seconds at 9H and date at 3H. Its outer-dial ring, hour markers, numerals and hands are embedded with Super-LumiNova with green luminescence.
The watch also employs Super-LumiNova on its crown, protective-bridge, locking-liver and strap. Made of Panerai SportechTM, the black strap features luminescent stitching. Water-resistant to a depth of 300 meters and endowed with superb luminescence, the Luminor Marina Fibratech™ 44mm is a perfect tool-watch for diving and night-missions.
2. Bell & Ross BR 03-92 FULL LUM
Bell & Ross has been renowned for its professional timepieces. One of the founding principles of this Swiss watch brand is optimum readability. The BR 03-92 FULL LUM watch proudly reflects this incredible legacy, but in a unique way by reversing the customary principles of luminescence. Instead of applying the luminescent materials to the hands and markers, Bell & Ross painted the entire dial with Superluminova®.
Now, the so-called graphic dial features non-luminescent hands and makers. In the absence of visible light, the watch-dial glows brilliantly and generously provides ultimate legibility. The BR 03-92 FULL LUM has a luminescent rubber bracelet.
The BR 03-92 FULL LUM model has a matt-black ceramic case, which perfectly offsets the graphic dial. Fitted with a sapphire crystal glass, this 42 mm watch houses an automatic movement for operating the hours, minutes, seconds and date function. With its great luminescence and rugged exterior, this typical Bell & Ross Instruments watch is ideally suitable for night adventures and missions.
3. BALL Roadmaster Marine GMT
The BALL Roadmaster collection offers exceptional tool-watches incorporating the Swiss watch brand’s characteristic luminescence technology. Developed in Switzerland, the innovative and self-powered Micro Gas Tubes (H₃) are superior and brighter than luminescent paintings.
The Roadmaster Marine GMT timepiece incorporates 28 self-powered micro gas tubes on its indicators (the hour, minute and GMT hands) and hour-markers. All the hands and 6, 9 and 12 numerals on the dial feature green radiance and the hour-index has an orange glow. This arrangement ensures exceptional readability of the dial around the clock. As a multiple time-zone watch, this model also incorporates a Bi-directional rotating ceramic bezel with a 24-hour scale illuminated with Super LumiNova.
The watch displays hours, minutes, and sweep second, calendar and three time-zones with the patented quick set mechanism. The Swiss-made timepiece is equipped with a chronometer-certified automatic movement. It comes with a 42mm diameter, and a light-weight case made from titanium.
The Roadmaster Marine GMT also incorporates all other characteristics of a premium tool-watch, like scratch-proof sapphire crystals, screwed-in crowns and transparent case back. The watch is fitted with tapered titanium and stainless steel bracelet, which ensures comfortable wearing.
Water-resistant to 200 meters and endowed with superb antimagnetic (4,800A/m) and shock-resistance (5,000Gs) features, the BALL Roadmaster Marine GMT is a great tool-watch. Added with superb luminescence technology and multiple time-zone functions, it would be most suitable for professionals who frequently travel across the world.
4. Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic
Exclusively designed for modern explorers, the Traser P68 Pathfinder Automatic watch incorporates the trigalight® self-powered technology, which doesn’t require any external light or energy sources.
This 46mm wristwatch features a black PVD coated stainless steel case with two screw-down crowns and anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass. In addition to the time and date display, the P68 Pathfinder Automatic watch features an inner compass-ring to correctly determine the wearer’s current position and the cardinal directions. It can be operated with the crown at 8 o’clock.
The watch is equipped with a Swiss-made automatic movement, which provides a power reserve of 38 hours. Fitted with a top-quality NATO strap, this Swiss-made watch is all-weather compatible and has a water resistance of 100 meters.
All Traser watches use the proprietary luminescent technology developed by its parent company mb-microtec, based in Switzerland. For illumination, the P68 Pathfinder Automatic model incorporates both trigalight® and Super-LumiNova. It has trigalight® self-powered technology for the hour-indexes and hands. It assures perfect visibility even in the most demanding environments. The watch uses Super-LumiNova for the direction indicator on the compass ring, external numerals on the dial and luminescent glass seal. Featuring great luminescence and compass functions, this all-terrain-watch is suitable for adventurers, outdoor-sports enthusiasts and hikers.
5. Victorinox Swiss Army Night Vision
The Night Vision watch by Victorinox Swiss Army incorporates a novel technology for illuminating its dial. It also offers some auxiliary light functions. Driven by a Ronda quartz movement, this Swiss-made timekeeping instrument features a 42mm diameter stainless steel case. The ingenious LED lighting system of this watch offers six functions, which can be activated by pressing the push button on the case.
The six light modes are Time Vision, Night Vision, Strobe, SOS, Locator and Battery end-of-life. These functions are managed by a Swiss-made electronic module exclusively designed for this timepiece. It has its own battery and runs on a circuit independent of the watch movement.
Gently pressing the dedicated button once will activate a blue LED light that illuminates the dial, allowing the wearer to read the time and date in all conditions. Interestingly, the hands and hour-markers are embedded with traditional luminescent materials. With the push-button, you can activate other functions like Night Vision, Strobe, SOS and Locator.
Lastly, a red LED flashes three times every 10 seconds to indicate that the battery needs to be replaced. Fitted with a scratch-resistant, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, the watch is water-resistant to 50 meters. Equipped with a unique lighting technology, which also provides some other useful functions in addition to illuminating the dial, this timepiece is a great daily beater watch.