Luminescent Watches Loom Large


Panerai Luminor Marina limited edition - Tron-style luminescent Watches

Panerai’s new 44mm Luminor Marina Limited Edition luminescent watches. Tron. Connect the dots. There’s a large selection of large watches offering the same sort of cinematic splendor. Let’s start by shining a light on the new Luminor . . .

Aside from their price – $20k for the DMLS titanium and Fibratech editions and $17k for the Carbotech model – the most important fact about Panerai’s new Luminor Marina trilogy is that they don’t owe their glow to radioactive paint.

Panerai Luminor on its side - luminescent watches don't get much classier

No really, that was a thing. A bad, bad thing. Worse even than Panerai supplying Nazi swimmers with watches. Bad enough to inspire the play Radium Girls about factory workers poisoned by radioluminescent paint.

Thankfully, the new PAMs get their glow on via safe-as-houses X1 Super-LumiNova. Just so you know . . .

The new Swiss Super-LumiNova Grade X1 shows a performance increase of up to 60% after two hours compared to the standard grade. By using Swiss Super-LumiNova Grade X1, the legibility according to the ISO 3157 standard will be extended by at least a factor of 1.6 on the long term.

Panerai Luminor casebackLong term? Panerai warranties the watches for seventy years – although I wouldn’t be surprised to find some lawyer’s language excluding lume performance.

PAMs aren’t the only large luminescent watches liking the nightlife (baby).

 luminescent watches - TOCKR Lume Air Defender

Our most recent New Watch Alert highlighted the highlighter-like TOCKR Camo-Style Lume Air Defender. The 45mm hydro-dipped watch is the bargain basement steampunk version of the Panerai, matching its glow-in-the-dark strap stitching.

Dufrane Barton Springs Diver 656 lume shot

Walking it down the 42mm, a more-than-honorable mention is due to the Dufrane Barton Springs 656 Diver. The Super-LuminNova C3-doused dive watch is a veritable night light of a timepiece, complete with the cutest little luminescent second hand dot eva!

Quick digression: there are all kinds of luminescent paints for glow-in-the-dark watches (click here for three more winners). The pigments provide different glow strengths (to use the technical term) and light longevity.

Our man Perbandingan prepared a semi-scientific video comparing three non-Super-LumiNova faves. If the Indonesian narration turns you off, skip to the English Star Wars-style results at 8:05.

Paint schmaint. If you’re a true horological lumatic, there’s only one way to glow: tritium gas tube technology.

Ball Marvelight

Ball Watches relies on the technology for their “accuracy under adversity” timepieces, reaching its apogee with their 40mm multi colored Ball Marvelight.

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon

Well that’s Ball’s best time-keeping night light if you’re a minimalist. If your a maximalist minimalist, the 40mm original Engineer Hydrocarbon‘s got it going on all night long.

The big advantage to going totally tubular: you don’t have to hit the watch dial with a flashlight to light up your life. Thanks to physics, chemistry and voodoo, tritium tubes are always “on.” Well, for 25 years (fifty shy of Panerai’s guarantee). Here’s how it works:

Pure tritium gas is sealed in a hollow mineral glass tube. The interior walls are coated with luminescent material that gives off cold light when activated by the electrons emitted by the tritium, in much the same way a television screen functions.

Bear Grylls Survival LAND Series

Luminox is the other big tritium promulgator. And when I say big, I mean BIG. Their Bear Grylls Survival LAND Series is also a Panerai-plus-one 45mm – without counting the built-in compass. Which isn’t illuminated. And the tritium seems a bit sparse. But we’re down in $595 territory now. So there is that.

Carnival tritium tube watch

Less watch, less money. Keeping in mind we know nothing about this brand or the website selling it and the word Carnival has lost its luster since coronavirus hitched a ride with the cruise industry, here’s a quartz-powered 39mm tritium tube watch for $95, marked down from $2350. As our Joseph Adams would, yeah right.

Large, highly luminescent watches are trendy AF right now. When the day comes when you can leave your crib to go hands-on with an example, don’t forget to bring a flashlight. Ask the dealer for some alone time in a darkened room. It’ll be illuminating.


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