You don’t know what time it is? Do you find it hard to tell what time it is when you’re sleeping? This is the exact problem Swiss watchmakers set out to solve in the 19th century. By the end of that century, Swiss watchmakers began treating the dials of their timepieces with natural luminescent paint.
Today we have watches with luminous hands. So which are the best luminous watches for your need? With hundreds of watches online, choosing the best luminous watch can be confusing and time-consuming.
We’ve rounded up high-quality lume watches on a budget to help you with the search. Some of these timepieces feature Swiss movements, which give them the edge over other options.
In a hurry? Here are the best luminous watches
|Seiko SKX007K Men's Automatic Watch||Check Price|
|Isobrite ISO100 Ultra Bright Dive Watch||Check Price|
|Victorinox Swiss Army Men's I.N.O.X. Watch||Check Price|
|Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Watch||Check Price|
|Seiko Men's Prospex Special PADI Watch||Check Price|
What are luminous watches?
Luminous watches come with a feature that makes them easy to tell time in the dark. These watches use different types of illumination technology. You can get a luminous watch that’s just a regular watch, a sport watch, or an outdoor watch.
Types of Luminescence
So where does this luminosity on watch faces come from? To achieve the luminosity found on most watch faces, watchmakers use diverse techniques.
We review a few of these techniques together with their advantages.
A tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen. Tritium Gas Tubes found on the hour markers and hands on the watch dial contains this low energy beta emitter.
Radioactive Tritium Gas produces a consistent luminosity that does not fade with time. So, with this illumination technology, you need not expose the watch in light for it to glow.
With a half-life of about 12.32 years, tritium will gradually fade becoming too dim to be useful after 10 years.
While this technique uses radioactive substances, it has some drawbacks.
After 20 to 30 years of using a tritium watch, it completely loses its luminosity since all the tritium will have decayed.
One other downside of tritium is that it has a relatively low brightness. Under certain conditions, this can be difficult to read.
Notwithstanding, watches with tritium tubes are completely safe to wear.
Tracers are phosphor-coated tubes filled with tritium gas. These tubes come in different colors: orange, blue, green or red.
The electrons emitted by the tritium are absorbed by the phosphor, which intends gives off light. Hence, these tubes emit no radiation. Luminox watches and Ball watches make use of this technique extensively.
Luminous watch paints
To move away from radioactive excitants, watchmakers use luminous paint for their watches.
With this technique, a fluorescent substance once exposed to light absorbs photons (electromagnetic radiations) and then re-radiates the photons. This we see as a glow on the watch face.
Over the years, various watchmakers have come up with their own version of the luminous substance. The two prominent types in the market include.
Luminova & SuperLuminova – The History
LumiNova is a patented photoluminescent pigment created in 1941 by a Japanese man named Kenzo Nemoto. He discovered that mixing a combination of materials resulted in a highly luminescent material that could be used to coat materials. His invention gave birth to the Nemato & Co company.
Later down the years (1993), a Swiss company, RC Tritec AG, partnered with Nemato & Co. This partnership gave them the right to produce and distributed LumiNova paint in Switzerland under the name Super-LumiNova.
So the term Super-Luminova indicates the lume is 100% Swiss made. You’d easily find this luminous material in most Swiss dive watches. Many Swiss watchmakers use this lume for their watches.
Related Video: Dive Watch Lume Comparison
8 Best Luminous Affordable Watches
Best Tritium watches
Isobrite Ultra Bright T100 Tritium Watch (ISO100)
This Isobrite timepiece comes with T100 luminous hands that put off an excellent glow. The bright light on this timepiece makes it easy to read the time under any light conditions.
Besides its bright light, the watch is very light-weight that you’d barely notice it on your wrist. The carbon-fiber case and sapphire crystal on this tritium luminous watch are scratch-resistant. This helps it withstand all the daily beatings it encounters.
With its Swiss Ronda 715Li Quartz movement, this luminous timepiece keeps perfect time. I recommend this watch for dive buddies. It is water-resistant up to 200 meters and gives you the possibility of measuring the elapsed time with its unidirectional bezel.
With a 47mm diameter, this timepiece is good for persons with large wrists.
- The straps are comfortable on the wrist.
- Has a scratch-resistant case.
- Light-weight timepiece.
- Tritium lume unidirectional bezel.
- Lacks a screw down crown.
Victorinox Swiss Army Men’s I.N.O.X. Watch (Model: 241688.1)
The Victorinox Swiss Army is a tough watch with a well-polished bezel. The case on this luminous military watch is crafted from high-grade hypoallergenic stainless steel. This means it is safe for those who are allergic to some metals.
Besides being a watch with luminous markers, a triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal protects the dial. You also have the possibility of a date window on the dial.
To ensure it is totally water-resistant, it comes with a steel screw-down crown that is well protected. This luminous watch is water-resistant up to 200 meters.
- It has a well made and solid case.
- Comes with a hypoallergenic stainless steel case.
- Has a triple-coated sapphire.
- Has a screw-down crown.
- The strap is hard and not comfortable.
- The lume is not bright enough.
For those who have as search criteria a very accurate watch with a dazzling lume, this Luminox Navy Seal watch fits all these criteria. The lume on the hour marker is outstanding in every regard. This makes the dial very easy to read.
Being a Navy SEAL watch, it keeps accurate time month after month and the battery will last for years. This timepiece also does not need sunlight to charge the dial and hands. It is fully a tritium watch and glows during the day and at night.
You also get a 200-meter water resistance rating and a tight bezel for your dive calculations. This timepiece is very accurate powered by a Swiss-Quartz movement.
For increased resistance to water, it comes with a steel screw-down case back and crown. Other feature includes a date display at 3 o’clock, and a black mineral dial window with white luminous hands for increased legibility.
- Outstanding illumination.
- Very easy-to-read dial.
- Keeps accurate time.
- Screw-down case back and crown.
- Comes with a mineral crystal.
Best Chemical Lume Watches
Seiko Men’s Automatic Watch (SKX007K)
The Seiko SKX007K is a great, dependable, and accurate watch with a dazzling lume. The lume on this watch is nice and lasts for most of the night.
The black dial with the white markers makes this iconic timepiece very easy to read with a date and day display at 3 o’clock position. One feature I admire most on this timepiece is its classic style and very comfortable wrist band. It fits perfectly on the wrist with no constant adjustments.
This timepiece also features a stainless steel case that makes it durable to withstanding the day-to-day beatings. As you’d expect, this timepiece comes with a water resistance rating of 200 meters.
Finally, the crown on this luminous watch is rather located at the 4 o’clock position. This classic design keeps the crown from sticking into the skin when you move your wrist.
- Super legible design.
- Has a comfortable wrist band.
- Has accurate timekeeping.
- It has a dazzling illumination.
- Lacks a sapphire crystal.
Seiko Men’s Prospex PADI Samurai
If you love the combination of blue and green lume, you might love picking this timepiece. This Seiko Prospex PADI watch uses blue LumiBrite lume on the hour marker, second hand, and indices. The minute hand and pip on the bezel have their standard green lume. The lume is superb and lasts longer.
This is a great looking, hefty watch with a well-polished wave dial. Seiko’s attention to detail makes this watch look above and beyond its price point.
This is a 24 jewels self-winding automatic watch. Therefore, there is no need for battery replacements. Its automatic movement is powered by Seiko’s in-house Calibre 4R36 movement with a hackable second hand.
It’s an everyday casual watch and would work well when you swap your dress watch for it. Other features of this luminous watch include a date window at the 3 o’clock position and a water resistance rating of 200 meters.
This is also a complete stainless steel bracelet watch. So not only is it attractive but it comes with a very durable modern design. If you don’t like the black dial design, you can always pick this blue dial option.
- Very gorgeous watch.
- Uses a distinct blue and green lume.
- A good casual watch.
- Very durable steel watch.
- Bezel is not lined up on the center of 12 o’clock.
- Watch loses some seconds daily.
Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Watch (BN0150-28E)
If you are looking for a good lume watch powered only by solar or other light sources, this Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive diver watch fits that description.
The lume on this timepiece is impressive and to add to this, you incur no extra cost in powering it. As with the SKX007K, the crown at 4 o’clock is a major plus as you no longer have the crown digging into my wrist as you move your hand.
With this citizen luminous watch, you also get a date window just above the crown at the 4 o’clock position and it is water-resistant up to 200 meters.
Coming with a 42mm diameter case, this timepiece may not be suitable for persons with small wrists. However, its phosphorescent luminous watch dial makes it one of the best luminous watches to tell the time in the dark.
- Hour and minute hands are large and easy to read.
- The dial has a beautiful design.
- It’s solar-powered.
- Well-positioned crown.
- The date window is tiny.
- The watch strap is a little too stiff.
The Citizen Navihawk A-T is a lumed watch designed with pilots in mind. Those who fly often will probably get better use out of it, as it is good for switching time zones and checking travel info.
The atomic timekeeping function and the fact that it is solar-powered means you never have to set the watch again after doing it for the first time. The watch syncs with the atomic clock so no hassles of correcting it when it gains or loses some seconds.
It is water-resistant for up to 200 meters and also features a digital window for digital time display. Other features in this Citizen luminous watch include multi-function chronographs and an anti-reflective mineral crystal.
Some negative remarks for this timepiece include the fact that the digital windows are difficult to read even with the back-lighting. Also, the other data on this luminous watch face is small and strenuous to read especially for those who are advanced in age.
- It has a great build quality.
- Looks fantastic on your wrist, especially from afar.
- It has a multi-time zone function.
- It is a multi-chronograph watch.
- Syncs with the atomic clock.
- Lacks sapphire crystal.
- It is an extra-large & heavy watch.
- The second hand is not lumed.
Watch brands with the best lume
Seiko’s watchmaking history dates back to the early 20th century. This company’s watches have the best absolute lume per our rating. Some great examples include Seiko Prospex SBBN031, Seiko Prospex Monster Blue, and Seiko SKX009.
While this company is a newcomer in the watch space, it offers the best lume watches. On a mission to produce cutting-edge luminescence, Luminox ticks all the boxes when it comes to making watches with great lume. A good example includes Luminox F-117 Nighthawk 6400 Series.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does Seiko LumiBrite last?
LumiBrite is Seiko’s trademark pigment that glows after being struck by light. Because it is brighter than most photoluminescent material when it glows, one will think it doesn’t last long. According to Seiko, this luminescent paint lasts for about 3-5 hours in the dark.
Are luminous watches dangerous?
Luminous analog watches have been a part of the fashion world since it’s inception. Whether it’s the gorgeous luminous designs or the prestigious brands that make them, it’s hard to deny their allure.
Do Luminous Watches pose a danger to the wearer? They are designed to provide the wearer with the utmost in fashion, but this might come with a certain degree of risk. All watches with Tritium tubes are considered safe as long as the glass is in tact. Also, watches with luminous paint are completely harmless because they contain no radioactive material.
Luminous watches are very essential if you work mostly at night. As discussed earlier, the lume material on these watches makes them glow at night.
If you want a luminous watch that glows brightly and then fades off with time, then go for watches with chemical lume. They have very intense lumes that fade off with time. Here, the best to pick will be the Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Watch (BN0150-28E).
If you are looking for a luminous watch with a lume that has the same illumination at all times and doesn’t need light to charge it, go for tritium watches. They do a good job of staying bright throughout the day. The best in this list will be the Luminox Men’s Navy Seal Dive Watch (Model: XS.3001).