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Watch brands taking glow-in-the-dark to the next level

For some horology enthusiasts, it’s not enough for a watch to look stunning in broad daylight – it has to look exceptional in the dark too. Typically used in dive or other tool watches designed for maximum legibility even in low lighting conditions, the glow-in-the-dark substance known as lume often goes beyond mere function to give timepieces a unique character. Usually applied to the hour and minute markers as well as hands, lume highlights various forms of typography and hand shapes. You’ll also see it used on other interesting dial details such as the stars and moon on lunar displays, or representations of globes on world timers. It has come a long way not just in form but substance as well. The earliest lume took the form of radioactive, radium-based paints, which killed or made ill many women in the 1920s who were employed to apply them to watch dials. Today, most watch brands use some form of Super-Luminova, a non-hazardous, strontium aluminate-based substance rooted in Luminova pigments invented by Japanese company Nemoto & Co in 1993. Here are the latest ways in which watch brands are taking lume to the next level.

(Related: The new Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver Full Lum might be the brightest watch underwater)

  • Glow In The Dark Watches BR HUD

    Screen time

    It’s no secret that all things military serve as a fount of creative fodder for watch brands. The latest army-based inspiration for Bell & Ross is the heads- up display (HUD), a transparent glass screen that presents essential data – such as speed and altitude – directly within a pilot’s visual field. The self-winding BR 03-92 HUD plays with lume and colour on multiple levels to achieve the appearance of a digital screen. At the top, a green-tinted sapphire glass sets the stage for that onboard-instrument look. Four brackets are printed in Super-Luminova on the underside of the glass.

    At the next level, the minute and second hands have been lumed, with the centre kept black, so the hands look like they’re floating. Beneath that lies the dial and a disc bearing a lumed triangle indicating the hours. These are all encased in a 42mm matte black ceramic case – in Bell & Ross’ signature circle within a square form – that lets the bright green do the talking.

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