15 Best Luminous Watches – Types of Lume

Are you having trouble telling the time in the dark? It would be convenient to be able to tell the time regardless of the environment’s lighting condition, right?

Well, if you’re looking for a versatile timepiece that can help you keep time regardless if it’s night or day, obtaining a luminous watch is your best option.

What Are Luminous Watches?

Luminous watches were born because there was a need to tell the time in the dark without having to carry another tool to do it. It also became vital in military use, especially for covert operations that usually happen at night.

Back then, luminous materials used on watches easily die out. The need to often replace the dial or the hands became impractical, so watchmakers continued to find new ways to make the watch glow. With the combination of science and technology, various ways of illuminating the watch were created, including the use of glow-in-the-dark paints and radioactive materials.

Luminous watches are illuminated through different means. Here are the usual technologies utilized by manufacturers in their products:

Radium paint

Radium is self-luminous, thanks to the emission of particles that cause the element to create a small amount of glow. However, this was discontinued because it emitted too much radiation that gradually degrades the components of the watch.

Tritium-filled gas tubes

Tritium emits low beta energy that doesn’t cause much harm compared to radium. The element also has a lengthy half-life that allows the lume to shine longer compared to similar materials with the same effect.

Super-Luminova and Luminova

These materials were invented in Japan and they don’t use radioactive components. Instead, they use an efficient type of phosphor that absorbs light and stores it for hours. This allows luminous watches to glow for a certain period and lets you see the watch face in the dark.

Backlight

Digital watches are equipped with battery-powered backlights that are usually activated with a push of a button. This is a convenient and practical option because you can control when to illuminate the watch.

These types of lume are often used for specific purposes.

For instance, tritium-filled luminous watches are often designed for military or sports use because of their reliability. Timepieces with Super-Luminova are often made for casual, formal, and sports use because they’re cost-effective and versatile. For digital sports watches, backlights are what you’ll often find included in them.

The Top 15 Luminous Watches

Here are the top luminous watches to consider buying:

Casio F105W-1 Illuminator

The 37mm x 33.5mm F105W-1 Illuminator is a digital watch that has a square-shaped case made of resin. The watch also has a solid case back, a resin strap, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, and a quartz movement.

The F105W-1 Illuminator is a basic illuminated watch that features an alarm, a timer, a stopwatch, a calendar, and an EL backlight function.

I Found it for $6.33 less
Casio Men's Illuminator Quartz Watch with...
  • EL backlight
  • 1/100 second digital stopwatch
  • Daily alarm
  • Accuracy: +/-30 seconds per month
  • Water-resistant

Pros:

  • Dirt-cheap luminous watch
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Poor illumination
  • Flimsy strap
  • Hard to see the display under bright lights

Price: $20

Timex Expedition Gallatin TW4B03500

The 44mm Expedition Gallatin TW4B03500 has a resin case and bezel, a fabric strap, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, Indiglo backlight function, Arabic numeral hour markers, 24-hour markers, and a quartz movement.

Timex Men's TW4B03500 Expedition Gallatin...
  • Adjustable black 22 millimeter...
  • Black dial with date window at 3...
  • Black 44 millimeter resin case with...
  • Indiglo light-up watch dial;...
  • Water resistant to 50 meter (165...

Pros:

  • Extremely affordable
  • Cool backlight color
  • Legible watch face
  • Water-resistant up to 50m

Cons:

  • Small date window
  • Strap isn’t comfy to wear
  • Backlight isn’t bright enough to illuminate the date window

Price: $50

Timex Ironman Classic 50

The 43mm Ironman Classic 50 is a digital watch with a resin case and band, an acrylic crystal, a chronograph function, a lap counter, a memory recall feature, an alarm function, Indiglo backlight function, and a quartz movement.

It has a five-button design that makes it easy to navigate the functions on the watch.

Timex Men's T5K6899J Ironman Traditional...
  • Sport watch with screw-accented...
  • 43 mm resin case with acrylic dial...
  • Quartz movement with digital...
  • Resin band with buckle closure,...
  • Water resistant to 100 m (330 ft)

Pros:

  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • Built for sports activities
  • Large display makes the watch face legible
  • Water-resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Indiglo backlight isn’t that bright
  • Strap can be difficult to strap on and off
  • No replacement in case the strap gets damaged

Price: $70

Casio G-Shock The 6900 Military

The 53mm 6900 Military is a digital watch that has a resin case, bezel, and band, a mineral crystal, Indiglo backlight function, and a quartz movement.

The 6900 Military features functions such as alarm, countdown timer, 24-hour format option, stopwatch, all of which can be navigated using the five-button interface of the watch.

Casio Men's G-Shock Military Concept Black...
  • Shock Resistant ; 200 Meter Water...
  • Flash Alert, Flashes with buzzer...
  • 1/100 second stopwatch, Measuring...
  • Measuring mode: Elapsed time, split...
  • 12/24 hour formats; Accuracy: +/-...

Pros:

  • Multi-functional tool watch
  • Affordable for its numerous features
  • Durable build designed for rugged use
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Large and thick
  • Dial is dark and hard to read without the backlight
  • Almost inaudible alarm sound

Price: $90

Marathon Military Navigator WW194001-S-BK-B

The 41mm Military Navigator has a composite stainless steel case, a bidirectional rotating bezel with Arabic numeral hour markers, a nylon strap, Arabic numeral hour markers, 24-hour markers, luminescent hands and index hour markers, a sapphire crystal, and an ETA F06 quartz movement.

Marathon Navigator Swiss Made Military Issue...
  • MIL-SPEC: Built to Government...
  • TRITIUM GAS TUBES: Self...
  • PILOT'S WATCH: Designed for pilots...
  • HIGH TORQUE MOVEMENT: Swiss made...
  • SWISS MADE: Marathon watches are...

Pros:

  • Extremely durable build
  • Legible watch face
  • Lasting lume brightness
  • Water-resistant up to 60m

Cons:

  • Large and thick
  • No date window
  • Strap feels cheap

Price: $300

Mondaine Sport Night Vision A669.30308.16SBB

The 41mm Sport Night Vision A669.30308.16SBB has a stainless steel case, a solid case back, a black leather strap, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, a red-colored second hand, a date window, luminescent index hour markers, and a Ronda Caliber 509 AIG 6 quartz movement.

I Found it for $65.50 less
Mondaine Men's A667.30314.11SBB Classic Gents...
  • Swiss quartz movement
  • Durable mineral crystal
  • Case diameter: 36mm
  • Stainless steel case
  • Water resistant to 100 feet (30 M):...

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Highly legible watch face
  • Large date window
  • Water-resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Strap feels cheap
  • Crown doesn’t have guards
  • Crown is hard to pull out

Price: $370

Luminox SU3051 Evo Navy Seal Black Out

The 44mm SU3051 Evo Navy Seal has a carbon-reinforced polymer case, a solid case back, a rubber strap, and a mineral crystal. It also has a date window, a unidirectional rotating bezel with Arabic numeral 60-minute markers, Arabic numeral hour markers with lume, luminescent hands, 24-hour markers, and a quartz movement.

Unlike other luminous watches, the SU3051 Evo Navy Seal doesn’t need to be exposed to sunlight to recharge luminescent components. It has gas-filled tubes that automatically illuminate when they’re put under low-light conditions.

Luminox Evo Navy Seal Blackout Mens Watch...
  • Swiss quartz movement
  • Case diameter: 45 mm
  • Pc carbon reinforced case
  • Water-resistant to 660 feet (200 m)

Pros:

  • Superb lume brightness
  • Highly durable build
  • Lightweight but resistant to shock
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Large and thick
  • Small date window
  • Strap is too thick

Price: $395

Seiko Prospex SRPB55K1 Black Ion

The 44mm Prospex SRPB55K1 Black Ion has a stainless steel case, a solid case back, a silicone strap, a unidirectional rotating bezel with minute markers, a screw-down crown, a scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal, a date window, luminescent index hour markers, luminescent gold-tone hands, and a Caliber 4R35 automatic movement.

I Found it for $93.75 less
Seiko Prospex Divers Solar Mens Black...
  • Precise Solar Japan Quartz Movement...
  • Stainless Steel Case, Black...
  • Hardlex Mineral, Crystal Magnified...
  • Case Size: 43.5 mm Diameter, 12 mm...
  • Water Resistant - 200 M , Screw...

Pros:

  • Legible watch face
  • Durable build
  • Power reserve of up to 41 hours
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Oversized crown
  • Stiff bezel
  • Strap is too large

Price: $525

Casio Pro Trek PRW-6000Y-1ACR

The 58mm Pro Trek PRW-6000Y-1ACR is an analog-digital hybrid watch that has a black resin case, a resin strap, a solid case back, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, index hour markers, and a Casio Calibre 5365 quartz movement.

The Pro Trek PRW-6000Y-1ACR features an altimeter, a barometer, a thermometer, a compass, a world time function, an alarm, a stopwatch, a countdown timer, a power-saving function, a LED backlight function, and 12/24-hour format options.

Casio Men's Pro Trek Quartz Watch with Resin...
  • Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping,...
  • 100M WR, Low Temperature Resistant,...
  • Hourly Time Signal,12/24 Hour...

Pros:

  • Multi-functional hybrid watch
  • Durable build with the right weight
  • Solar-powered movement
  • Water-resistant up to 100m

Cons:

  • Large and bulky
  • Thermometer readings can be inaccurate
  • LED display can be hard to read under certain light conditions

Price: $600

Citizen Promaster Navihawk A-T Eco Drive JY8035-04E

The 48mm Navihawk A-T JY8035-04E is a hybrid analog-digital watch that has a stainless steel case, a solid case back, a rubber strap, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, ion-plated outer bezel, a slide rule inner bezel, a pull/push crown, index hour markers, luminous orange hands, and a Citizen Caliber Eco-Drive U680 movement.

The Navihawk A-T JY8035-04E features functions such as world time, perpetual calendar, chronograph, power reserve indicator, alarm, and a GMT indicator.

I Found it for $398.75 less
Citizen Eco-Drive Men's JY8030-83E Navihawk...
  • Movement:Eco-Drive U680, Atomic...
  • Silver-Tone Stainless Steel...
  • Case Material:Silver-Tone Stainless...
  • Crystal:Anti-Reflective Mineral...
  • Water Resistance:WR200/20Bar/666ft,...

Pros:

  • Multi-functional wristwatch for an affordable price
  • Atomic timekeeping function keeps the movement accurate
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Complicated watch face that’s hard to read
  • Small digital display
  • Stiff strap

Price: $695

Victorinox Swiss Army Night Vision 241569

The 42mm Swiss Army Night Vision 241569 has a stainless steel case, a solid case back, a stainless steel bracelet, a stainless steel bezel, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a screw-down crown, a date window at the 6 o’clock position, Arabic numeral minute markers on the outer dial, Arabic numerals and index hour markers, 24-hour markers, luminescent hands, and a quartz movement.

The Swiss Army Night Vision 241569 has a LED backlight function that can also be set to SOS and Locator modes.

Victorinox Men's Night Vision Titanium...
  • Night Vision, dark grey dial, black...
  • Stainless steel with triple-coated...
  • Swiss-quartz Movement
  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Water resistant to 50m (165ft: in...

Pros:

  • Elegant look that’s great for business use
  • Good lume brightness
  • Water-resistant up to 50m

Cons:

  • Expensive for its basic features
  • Crown protrudes too much
  • Small date window

Price: $695

Luminox Mariner Series 6250

The 45mm Mariner Series 6250 has a stainless steel case, a solid case back, a black and red leather strap, a unidirectional rotating bezel, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, a date window, 24-hour markers on the inner dial, Arabic numeral hour markers, luminescent hands, and a Sellita SW220-1-HH6 quartz movement.

Pros:

  • Solid, durable build
  • Superb lume brightness
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Large and bulky
  • Small date window
  • A bit heavy on the wrist

Price: $800

Luminox EVO F-117 Nighthawk Black Dial

The 46mm EVO F-117 has an ion-plated stainless steel case, a solid case back, a stainless steel strap, a unidirectional rotating bezel, a screw-down crown, a scratch-resistant mineral crystal, a date window, Arabic numeral hour markers, 24-hour markers, luminescent hands, and a quartz movement.

Luminox Men's 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark...
  • Luminous black watch featuring...
  • 44 mm Polyurethane case with...
  • Swiss quartz movement with analog...
  • Polyurethane band with embossed...
  • Water resistant to 200 m (660 ft):...

Pros:

  • Durable build
  • All-black theme
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • Water-resistant up to 200m

Cons:

  • Large and bulky
  • Small date window
  • Expensive for its features
  • Heavy on the wrist

Price: $1,150

Marathon GSAR Military Issue Diver’s Automatic Watch WW194006NGM

The 41mm GSAR Military Issue Diver’s watch has a stainless steel case, a unidirectional rotating bezel with Arabic numeral minute markers, a sapphire crystal, a screw-down crown, a date window, Arabic numeral hour markers, 24-hour markers, tritium-filled hands and indices, and a 25-jewel self-winding automatic movement.

It’s your choice to get either a rubber or a stainless steel strap upon purchase of the timepiece.

Marathon GSAR Swiss Made Military Issue...
  • MIL-SPEC: Built to Government...
  • TRITIUM GAS TUBES: Self...
  • SEARCH & RESCUE: Designed for...
  • AUTOMATIC MOVEMENT: 26 Jewel Swiss...
  • SWISS MADE: Proudly hand made in La...

Pros:

  • Highly durable build
  • Can withstand extreme environments
  • Legible watch face
  • Water-resistant up to 300m

Cons:

  • Stiff rubber strap
  • It’s thick and large to wear
  • Oversized crown

Price: $1,200

Ball Hydrocarbon AeroGMT DG2016A-SCJ-BK

The 42mm AeroGMT DG2016A-SCJ-BK has a stainless steel case, a stainless steel bracelet, a bezel with 24-hour markers, a crown guard, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coating, a date window, a GMT hand, luminescent hands and hour markers, and a Ball RR1201-C automatic movement.

Ball Gents-Wristwatch Engineer Hydrocarbon...
  • The Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon...
  • This Ball Model has a Automatic...
  • The case is made of durable...
  • The DG2016A-SCJ-BK comes with a...
  • Moreover, this Ball Model is...

Pros:

  • COSC-certified movement
  • Excellent lume brightness
  • GMT hand for tracking an additional time zone
  • Power reserve of up to 40 hours
  • Water-resistant up to 300m

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to the average luminous watch
  • Heavy on the wrist
  • Large and thick

Price: $3,400

FAQs

How long do I need to expose my watch to sunlight to ‘recharge’ the lume?

There’s no fixed duration on how long you should expose your luminous watch to sunlight or artificial light to fully recharge the lume component. The brightness and longevity of the lume will depend on how much material is applied to the watch.

But on average, a few minutes under direct sunlight will be more than enough to recharge the lume on your watch.

What makes Tritium-filled tubes different?

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen and it’s used to fill fluorescent tubes.

Tritium tubes glow with the same intensity 24/7, regardless of the light condition. What makes them incredible is how they emit the same brightness for years. According to manufacturers and customer testaments, the lume on Tritium-filled lasts for around a decade on average.

Which is the best type of lume for luminous watches?

In terms of intensity and longevity, tritium-filled tubes seem to be the most recommended option by customers. Luminous watches with this kind of lume are expensive though, so many usually settle for timepieces that utilize Super-Luminova or Luminova materials.

Conclusion

Luminous watches differ in the way they’re illuminated. Although each utilize a certain type of technology, they all attain the goal of enabling you to see the watch even in pitch-dark environments.

The choice of luminous watch you can buy will majorly depend on your budget. Those illuminated with backlights are the most affordable, while accessories with tritium-filled tubes can be several times more expensive.

Regardless of the type of luminous watch you purchase, the sure thing is that you won’t ever have trouble telling the time again, no matter how bright or dark it is in your location.

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