During the last few weeks, coupled with extreme late-night revisions and chit-chatting sessions, the author feel that he has been staying up more often than he should have. And being a watch enthusiast, the thoughts naturally gravitate towards owning some nice watches that are fitted with great lume that will work well in the dark.
In this series of Throwback Sundays, we will dig into our archives to select some of our favourite watches that comes with great lume. While most of them are probably for utility purposes, but we will also shortlist some watches which have utilized the lume to add some new dimensions and perspective to the watches itself. So, what have we selected? Let’s find out!
Ball Engineer II Volcano
When it comes to lume, Ball is certainly in the forefront of making watches that glow brightly in the dark. This is from the use of micro gas tubes, in which tritium is sealed in hollow mineral gas tubes that are coated with luminescent material that gives off cold light when it is activated by the electrons emitted by the tritium. Hence, it results in the signature bright glow that Ball is well-known for.
The Engineer II Volcano is not just a pretty watch in the dark – it is extremely strong and well-built too. The rugged timepiece is cased in a patented Mumetal & Carbide composite, which has anti-magnetic properties to shield the movement from any form of disruption caused by magnetic fields. In addition, the watch is fitted with the BALL RR1102-C movement. It is a COSC-certified automatic movement, and offers a decent power reserve of up to 38 hours. It also comes with a day and date indicator at the 3 o’clock position.
Priced at S$3,980, the Ball Engineer II Volcano is certainly an excellent choice for someone who wishes to own a solid and good-looking timepiece.
Luminox Carbon Seal 3800 Series
Next up, if you are looking for a utilitarian watch that has some military pedigree, we highly-recommend the Luminox Carbon Seal 3800 Series.
Luminox is a timepiece that is created for army personnel, and it is widely used by soldiers worldwide for its robustness and reliability. The Carbon Seal 3800 Series steps up a notch with a new Carbon SEAL case that is said to be three times lighter than titanium, without compromising on strength and quality. Notably, it is scratch, chemical and heat resistant as well. In addition, it is also rather functional in dark environments, thanks to the bright micro gas tubes (similar to Ball) that illuminates the indices in the dark.
Powered by the Ronda 715 HH6, the quartz watch functions well with a lifespan on 8 years on a single CR2016 battery. In all, the 46mm Carbon Seal 3800 Series is an excellent timepiece, and one that you might considering taking along for your next adventure. The watch retails at S$1,060.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Milspec
When it comes to diver’s watch, we always have a soft-spot for Blancpain’s Fifty Fathom. It has an interesting provenance, with a handsome design that is pretty timeless. It is, also, one of the more uncommon dive watches when one compares it to the likes of the Rolex Submariner or the Omega Seamaster.
There are many diver’s watches with excellent lume. It is, after all, imperative to keep track of time underwater. However, what makes the Fifty Fathom interesting is its bezel. Unlike most of the other watch manufacturers that produce dive watches, Blancpain is one of the few that has incorporated SuperLuminova into the markers on the bezel itself. The effect is rather stunning, and it definitely helps in terms of legibility and functionality. It is an uncommon feature, and it will certainly attract some conversations from enthusiast and non-enthusiast alike.
One of the latest pieces in the Fifty Fathom line-up is the MIL-SPEC, which is a 40mm timepiece that pays homage to the 1957 release. It is unmistakably a Fifty Fathom, with some detailing (such as the white and orange water-tightness humidity indicator) that differentiate itself from the other watches in the collection. The timepiece is priced a little steep at S$19,500, but this particular timepiece is limited to 500 pieces, and it is fitted with the beautiful in-house produced Calibre 1151.
Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech™ 3 Days PAM00700
Big, bold, and ultra-cool. That are the words that we will definitely use to describe the new Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3-days 49mm, which was launched in this year’s SIHH.
The 49mm timepiece is certainly an interesting timepiece, with its Carbotech case and a special carbon nano-tube dial (which is claimed to be the darkest dial in the market). The former makes the watch rather light, while the latter makes the timepiece seemingly very dark (pun intended). What is also interesting is that the watch is fitted with Panerai’s P.3001/C movement. This is not just any ordinary movement – the manual-winding calibre is made from carbon, and parts which traditionally require lube is made to be either self-lubricating or to utilise dry lubrication. There are also no jewels on the pivots of the movement too. In fact, it is Panerai is so confident with its breakthrough that they had outright offered a 50 year warranty on this timepiece.
Similar to most of the other Panerai watches, this LAB-ID also features its signature bright lume – in the form of a sandwich dial. This is definitely an incredible timepiece, and one that will surely attract many Panerai collectors. However, the watch is limited to a mere 50 pieces, and they are priced at €50,000 (approximately S$76,130).
Sarpaneva K0 Seasons
Moving away from watches that used lume for functional purposes, we shall now look at timepieces that features luminescence for aesthetical purposes. First up, we have the extremely intriguing K0 Seasons, from Sarpaneva.
Sarpaneva is the brainchild of Stepan Sarpaneva – a Finnish independent watchmaker whom is known to produce unique and eye-catching timepieces. The K0 Seasons is one of the most interesting collections in its line-up, coupling an unusual dial design with its signature case shape. But what is even more amazing is when the watch is placed in the dark. In an unlit environment, the K0 Seasons literally comes to live, with the layer of lume below the “web dial” providing illumination and casting the watch in a different light. There are a total of four different models, each featuring different lume (green, turquoise, violet, and blue) which represents different seasons. It is a truly mesmerizing timepiece.
The 46mm Sarpaneva K0 Seasons is priced at €10,000 (approximately S$15,200). The Soprod-powered timepiece is certainly a nice and fun watch to have in any watch collection, and one that we think will be especially popular with collectors who like watches that are a little quirky and whimsical.
HYT H4 Alinghi
We round up our article with HYT H4’s Alinghi.
HYT has always been an intriguing watchmaker, most notably known for the use of liquid to tell time. But the H4 Alinghi comes with a pleasant surprise within.
The highlight of the watch’s magnificence is the LED lights, which illuminates the timepiece in the dark. It is powered by a dynamo system, in which it comprises of 89 more additional components. On a full wind, the LED is able to keep the watch lighted up for a full 12 seconds. As for the time-telling capabilities, the watch is fitted with the same movement as the HYT H1. It still features the same liquid tube to indicate the hour, and it is finished in red to pay homage to the colours of Team Alinghi. Yes, we cheated a little by including a watch with a LED function (instead of using lume to illuminate the timepiece), but this is an exceptionally special piece that combines a mechanical dynamo system into a watch. How awesome is that!
This uber-cool 51mm watch, which is fitted with a 3DTP carbon case, is priced at S$127,000. It is a tad different from the rest of the watches, and it certainly adds a new dimension into one’s watch collection.
It is interesting to see how watch manufacturers have incorporate lume into the other aspects of the watch. What seems to be a function that allows legibility in the dark has transformed into something vastly different, such as Sarpaneva’s K0 Seasons and Romain Jerome’s Batman-DNA Gotham City, where manufacturers had incorporate the lume to toy with the visual effects of the timepieces. It is certainly interesting, and it definitely adds colours (both literally and figuratively) and different dimension into these watches itself.
It is also interesting to see how far the watch making industry has come, from the old days where radioactive-based materials (such as radium and tritium) were used to illuminate the watch. As we have seen, the manufacturers have now shifted to using SuperLuminova, as well as micro gas tubes and even dynamo-powered LED lights to illuminate the watches.
So, what are the watches that you prefer, when it comes to the lume (in terms of both aesthetics and brightness). Let us know in the comments section below!