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      01-24-2015, 12:56 PM   #1
tony20009
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Luminescence: A Watch Rant

Background:
So lume on a watch isn't something I've spent much time thinking about over the past 30+ years that I've been collecting watches. Yes, I have watches that have some sort of glow in the dark material on the dial and hands, but I never dwelt on it or even cared if it glowed or not. I didn't even know what kind of material was used to effect whatever glow they exhibit. Once in while, I'd notice that they were glowing in the dark and I'd think, "oh, isn't that nifty." End of story.

The Situation:
A few months back, another watchie mentioned that they'd bought a Deep Blue (DB) Master Explorer (ME). I took a quick look at it on DB's website. I liked the textured dial and I thought from the pics that the lume would be impressive.





Seeing as the watch was inexpensive to begin with and on sale on top of that, I thought nothing of it and ordered one. I figured with its red dial.

My expectations for the watch were:
  • Fun to wear given the red dial
  • Keeps time as well as any Miyota 9015, which is to say, well enough
  • Very legible in the dark
  • Excellent build quality; durable and able to take a beating
That's it. I knew it'd be a pretty basic watch and I already owned a DB T100.

What Happened:
Low and behold, like my T100, the build quality is outstanding. Indeed in that regard, it's very much on par with Rolex, Bremont, IWC, Pita, Aquadive and UTS. Fit and finish of the case and bracelet is impeccable, having very precise case edges, parts that align and match perfectly, no play in the bezel's rotation, etc. Like my T100, it's got the (unnecessary, but nice to have) solid end links that so many folks gush over re: Rolex watches. The bezel is also ceramic. And like my T100, the thing is built like a tank, as well it should be, for it's also heavier than the T100. (Both are heavier by far than my Submariner, and that's because they best the Sub's depth rating by 200 and 700 meters.)

Timekeeping is exactly what I expected too. It's neither better nor worse than any other watch having a Miyota 9015 inside. So no issue there.

I like the red dial and its texture too. I don't know what the dial is made of, but I don't care either. Sealed inside the airtight tank that is the watch's case, it could as well be made of paper and it'd look good and not get damaged. (Were it paper, its color may face from prolonged exposure to the sun, but would be all that could happen to it.)

And that brings me to the lume. The watch's luminescence results from the Superluminova (SL) coating/paint/paste on the hands, bezel numerals and markers, and dial markers. SL must be "charged" for it to glow. Exposing the light to just about any light source will charge it. Once charged, SL glows very brightly at first, but it fades over time. How long it glows brightly enough to be easily seen depends on how much SL has been applied to the surface one wants to have glow. The more SL paint/paste there is, the longer it visibly glows.

The Rant:
I knew this about SL, but as I said at the outset, I never bothered myself about it. Lume has never before the ME been a reason I chose or didn't choose a watch.

Now since DB made such a point to depict just how bright the glow is on the ME (they do so with all their watches, actually), I figured their watch would visibly glow all night long on a day's worth of charging. (Keep in mind, it's winter. Nights are longer.) Insofar as I already had a DB T100 (it uses tritium tubes, not SL), I figured that DB wouldn't offer an alternative lume approach that didn't work substantively as well as tritium.

Let me just say that rarely have my expectations been so unfulfilled! The lume on the ME glows for about 30 to 45 minutes, after which, I can't see the glow. It may still be glowing, but one'd need an instrument of some sort to tell.

Now, I don't know about you, but from time to time, I fall asleep with my watch on. Also, on occasion, I wake in the middle of the night and when I do, I look at my watch to see what time it is, whereupon I wonder to myself, "WTH am I waking at this ungodly hour? That's if I have on a watch. If I don't, I roll over and glance at the clock. Either way, checking the time isn't a "thinking" act; it's instinctual.

Plenty of my watches aren't glowing when I wake in the night. That's fine with me. I wasn't ever expecting that they should. Most of them I've had long enough to know damn well they aren't going to be glowing at four a.m. I am actually okay with that, even though they are supposed to glow at some point.

Out of curiosity, I tested several of my glowers to see which glowed the longest and strongest. Well, it turned out that except for the watch I bought from a street vendor in the PRC, they all glow equally bright and their glow lasts to within a minute or two of one another. The inexpensive ones, the pricey ones, the Rolex, the Omega, the Citizen, the Seiko, the DB, etc.; effectively they are all the same.

By now, you are probably thinking the issue isn't really SL or how long it glows. The issue is my expectations, and perhaps my failure to have paid attention to the glow on my older watches. Fair enough.

So what is there to do about it? Well, for starters, watch companies could put whatever amount/thickness of SL they want to on their watches, test it, and then list the glow period among the specs of the watch. From my own testing, it's pretty clear to me that how well and how long SL glows isn't one of those "your experience may vary" things as is fuel economy, for example. If the maker puts X microns worth of SL on the part in question, it's going to glow the same way for you, me and every other Tom, Dick and Harry on the planet.

What I'm saying is that watch companies need to better manage customer expectations. I am not upset or annoyed that the SL only glows for 30-45 minutes. That is what it is. I'm peeved that DB (and other makers) don't plainly state that 30-45 minutes of good glowing is all one can expect given how much SL they put on their watch parts.

There is no reason in my mind why a watch company cannot figure out how long the SL will glow and put that metric right there next to their indication that the watch has SL (or whatever) illumination. I had no difficulty figuring it out, so I know they shouldn't. I tried sunlight, incandescent bulbs, florescent bulbs, halogen bulbs, and LED bulbs. Same result every time.

Conclusion:
  • If you want lume in a watch and it matters, go with tritium.
  • Consumer expectations, not the watch itself, control whether any products is any good at being/doing that which it's supposed to be/do.


All the best.
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      01-24-2015, 12:59 PM   #2
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Never say that ANY watch is on par with a RLX. Rolex is Rolex!
Anyhow the watch you got yourself is nice, enjoy it in good health!
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      01-24-2015, 01:23 PM   #3
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Rolex - the nicest $600 movement in a twenty-thousand dollar watch

Read that in a watch forum thought it was funny.
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      01-24-2015, 01:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottSinger View Post
Rolex - the nicest $600 movement in a twenty-thousand dollar watch

Read that in a watch forum thought it was funny.
Never believe what you red somewhere

Get yourself a RLX first have it for a decade and then decide, to be more precise:
Judge from your own expierience, not from other's.
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      01-25-2015, 06:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
Background:
S
What Happened:
Low and behold, like my T100, the build quality is outstanding. Indeed in that regard, it's very much on par with Rolex, Bremont, IWC, Pita, Aquadive and UTS. Fit and finish of the case and bracelet is impeccable, having very precise case edges, parts that align and match perfectly, no play in the bezel's rotation, etc. Like my T100, it's got the (unnecessary, but nice to have) solid end links that so many folks gush over re: Rolex watches. The bezel is also ceramic. And like my T100, the thing is built like a tank, as well it should be, for it's also heavier than the T100. (Both are heavier by far than my Submariner, and that's because they best the Sub's depth rating by 200 and 700 meters.)
I love my T100 too. Got it at the end of last year during the cyber-monday sale, you can't go wrong. Nothing but compliments on it so far and, yes, it's built like a tank. Originally wanted the black dial but it was sold out, so I got the silver and am happy with it

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      01-28-2015, 12:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
Background:
So lume on a watch isn't something I've spent much time thinking about over the past 30+ years that I've been collecting watches. Yes, I have watches that have some sort of glow in the dark material on the dial and hands, but I never dwelt on it or even cared if it glowed or not. I didn't even know what kind of material was used to effect whatever glow they exhibit. Once in while, I'd notice that they were glowing in the dark and I'd think, "oh, isn't that nifty." End of
The Situation:





Conclusion:
  • If you want lume in a watch and it matters, go with tritium.
  • Consumer expectations, not the watch itself, control whether any products is any good at being/doing that which it's supposed to be/do.


All the best.
Can u get a Ti watch new anymore? Id think that if SL is truly used there is no comparison in lume, SL is so much brighter and in my experience does last all nite with normal watch use.
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      01-28-2015, 12:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m630 View Post
Can u get a Ti watch new anymore? Id think that if SL is truly used there is no comparison in lume, SL is so much brighter and in my experience does last all nite with normal watch use.
Ti? Titanium? Tritium?

Yes, one can buy a new watch having tritium (H3) lume. Deep Blue, Ball, and Luminox are three that come readily to my mind.

One can also buy a new watch made from titanium. Tudor's Pelagos is the one on the tip of my tongue. There are many others.

When it's fully charged, yes, SL is brighter.

What watches have you on which the SL lasts all night long (8 hours or more)? Perhaps one of them is something I might buy on the merit of your assertion? I'm certainly curious enough about such a thing's existence that I'd reach out to the maker to learn what they do differently -- quantity of SL applied, formula, etc. -- that makes their SL last so long.

All the best.
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      01-28-2015, 01:07 PM   #8
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I have the black dial one, but mind lacks the SL lumed bezel. Now as I look at yours, I want a white dial one too. LOL

The thing that sealed it for me on the model I chose was that it was the least expensive one they offered that also had the flat tritium tubes.

Your wrist shot and DB's stock pics of the watch, in particular the tritium tubes, are misleading. The tubes are, as you know, nowhere near as "tall" as the pic makes them seem. When I look at my T100, it is only the tubes on the hour and minute hands that I can actually discern that they stand out from the surface of the hands. Without magnification, I can't tell that at all for the hour markers and seconds hand.

For me that's a plus because I've seen other watches that use tritium lume and the older barrel style tubes. There's nothing wrong with the barrel style, but they look "clunkly" to me, but were they my only option, I'd still choose them over SL if lume is a key factor in my decision.

All the best.



Quote:
Originally Posted by san~man View Post
I love my T100 too. Got it at the end of last year during the cyber-monday sale, you can't go wrong. Nothing but compliments on it so far and, yes, it's built like a tank. Originally wanted the black dial but it was sold out, so I got the silver and am happy with it

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      01-28-2015, 02:30 PM   #9
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The SL bezel, IMO, is a nice touch. Just a few seconds in the light and it glows very bright. The bezel is also sapphire to help resist scratching.

I was set to buy that exact watch you posted but didn't care for the design and visual characteristics of the bezel. Plus, I like the link design of the day/night ops.

The bonus was the black friday deal! 30% off was too much to resist : )
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      01-28-2015, 03:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
Ti? Titanium? Tritium?

Yes, one can buy a new watch having tritium (H3) lume. Deep Blue, Ball, and Luminox are three that come readily to my mind.

One can also buy a new watch made from titanium. Tudor's Pelagos is the one on the tip of my tongue. There are many others.

When it's fully charged, yes, SL is brighter.

What watches have you on which the SL lasts all night long (8 hours or more)? Perhaps one of them is something I might buy on the merit of your assertion? I'm certainly curious enough about such a thing's existence that I'd reach out to the maker to learn what they do differently -- quantity of SL applied, formula, etc. -- that makes their SL last so long.

All the best.
Sorry yes i meant tritium, didnt think it was still be used for new watches. Of course the issue there is that it will degrade overtime.

As for me, my PAMs do provide continuous lume, perhaps it has to do with how its applied and how much is applied- as even they use multiple methods and i have an example of a painted dial vs a sandwich dial where the latter is the brighter between the two applications. I can always look at my watch in the middle of the nite and see the lume. So while it will not be intense as it will be when initially charged, as your eyes acclimate to the darkness you stay able to see the lume without issue.
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      01-28-2015, 03:46 PM   #11
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I picked up a Ball several years ago because of the the disappointing lume in my first couple watches. The tritium has been good, half-life is 12.5 years. I'm not sure but I think Ball offer tritium replacement.
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      01-28-2015, 08:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m630 View Post
Sorry yes i meant tritium, didnt think it was still be used for new watches. Of course the issue there is that it will degrade overtime.

As for me, my PAMs do provide continuous lume, perhaps it has to do with how its applied and how much is applied- as even they use multiple methods and i have an example of a painted dial vs a sandwich dial where the latter is the brighter between the two applications. I can always look at my watch in the middle of the nite and see the lume. So while it will not be intense as it will be when initially charged, as your eyes acclimate to the darkness you stay able to see the lume without issue.
Red:
Tritium's half life is ~12 years. So, 12 years from now, a tritium tube will glow half as brightly as it does now.

SL also degrades over time. In my experience, in about 20 minutes it's about half as bright as it was when it was fully charged. One can replicate the charging process for SL repeatedly for ~25 years after which time it just won't glow at all.

So in 25 years time, whereas the tritium may only be glowing at 1/4th it's original brightness, it will still be glowing. The SL will not.

Blue:
Which Pams have you?

Green:
I trust that is so for your eyes. I can guarantee you it's not for mine.

All the best.
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      01-28-2015, 09:38 PM   #13
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      01-28-2015, 10:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Without question.
I thank my Lord and lucky stars each day that mine are first world problems. I can tell you now, worry about how I'm going to feed my kids or house them is so not why I was put on this Earth. I would be wasting my life and the blessings I've been afforded were I not to have first world problems.

If I weren't born as I was and had far more life affecting dilemmas, it'd be a different matter. But the fact is I wasn't, and therefore it isn't.

All the best.
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      01-29-2015, 07:56 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
Red:
Tritium's half life is ~12 years. So, 12 years from now, a tritium tube will glow half as brightly as it does now.

SL also degrades over time. In my experience, in about 20 minutes it's about half as bright as it was when it was fully charged. One can replicate the charging process for SL repeatedly for ~25 years after which time it just won't glow at all.

So in 25 years time, whereas the tritium may only be glowing at 1/4th it's original brightness, it will still be glowing. The SL will not.

Blue:
Which Pams have you?

Green:
I trust that is so for your eyes. I can guarantee you it's not for mine.

All the best.
I tried to make a note this AM since its still dark as i awake and leave for work and the lume can still be seen in the low light conditions which aint bad considering about 6hours in total darkness.

I have the 283 which has the painted dial and the 320 with sandwich dial. I find i can always see the lume in any condition which i do like, except at 3am when i cant sleep and just stare at the time
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      01-29-2015, 07:57 AM   #16
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Witthout question lol
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