Watch Luminescence Guide

Several watch manufacturers have been using luminescence on their products for years since the development of Zinc sulfide-based photo-luminescent paint in the 1930’s.  Since then, many new forms of luminescence have been developed and utilized in watch manufacturing. In this article, we will take you through the many forms of luminescence and their advantages.


SuperLuminova on a Seiko Watch

Super-LumiNova is a branded, Swiss-made, Strontium aluminate-based photo-luminescent application. Basically, glow-in-the-dark paint used by many watch manufacturers.  It can be applied to the watch’s features and glows after being exposed to some form of light.  Super-LumiNova’s brightness is the most intense immediately following a charge under a light, and then slowly fades after a period of time without further exposure to a light source.  This form of luminescence is a great option for the average person who may need to reference the watch in the dark occasionally, but not depend on it.


Tritium is an safe radioactive form of Hydrogen-3 which creates a constant light source that will last for years.  On watches, it is contained in air-tight capsules that are sealed under high pressure.  This form of luminescence is a dependable choice for those of you who are in the military, or work in poorly lighted conditions and need a reliable watch which can be referenced in the dark without fail.

Tritium has several benefits including a guaranteed 10 year glow-life on Luminox watches, and although it may not be as bright as Super-LumiNova, it will not fade after a few hours.  Along with the two previous advantages, there is one key benefit to Tritium:  it is completely self-sufficient.  That means that the Tritium will continuously glow for years…without ever being charged and without depleting the watch’s power source!  Along with Luminox, Tritium is also used in such brands as Reactor and Mondaine.

Video below: Super-LumiNova and Tritium performance compared using a Reactor and Luminox watch (this video is only meant to show an example of how the tritium compares to Super-LumiNova and is not to compare watch brands).


EL Backlight on a Suunto Watch

If a digital watch is your go-to companion for daily wear, then you are probably familiar with the form of luminescence known as an EL-backlight, or “Electro Luminescent-backlight”.  The backlight is easily activated by the push of a button commonly found on the side of the watch.  When you press the button, the glow illuminates the entire dial and lasts for approximately three seconds.  If you have difficulty reading a dial that only has luminous hands and/or markers, then selecting a watch with an EL-backlight is a practical option.  It is bright and easy to read just by the push of a button and is commonly found on digital watches.

Common to the EL-backlight is the Auto EL-backlight.  It has the same characteristics as the normal EL-backlight, except that it will automatically activate when you raise your watch to read the time.  Eliminating the need to find and push a button in the dark makes this a great, convenient function to have on any watch.


Casio Watches Illuminated using an LED Light

So many of us come across light-emitting diodes, LED lights, in our everyday life and do not realize that they are commonly used in watches and electronics.  In scientific terms, they are small light bulbs that fit into an electrical circuit and are lit only by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor substance, which has a high brightness, but requires a large amount of energy to operate.  Luckily, LED lights are not as difficult to operate as they are to understand.  In the majority of LED watches that we wear, the luminescence is easily activated by the push of a button (similar to the EL-backlight).  In the past, manufacturers have had difficulty attaining high brightness with LEDs due to the low power available to a watch.  For all of the Casio fans out there,  a newly-developed circuit which achieves high brightness with white LEDs is being used.  What does this mean for you, the consumer?  The new circuit offers approximately six times the brightness of a normal LED, without using any additional power.  This offers you a product with an extremely bright illumination, without sacrificing the watch’s power source.

When purchasing a watch, you should always consider the importance of luminescent applications to your needs.  Is the watch for your general, everyday use?  Or will the watch play a key role throughout your day’s activities?  Some of you may need a reliable watch during your military service, while others may need a bright, easy-to-reference dial due to poor eye-sight.  Whether you prefer the consistency of the Tritium capsules or the ease of the Auto EL-backlight, all of these applications feature their own unique benefits.  Ultimately, it is up to you to determine which option is best for your lifestyle.

Have questions? Feel free to contact our knowledgeable Customer Service Department at 1-800-572-8263 before ordering.

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