The Best Luminous Watches | 2020 Affordable Lume Watches

Telling time in the dark had always been a problem in the watch industry since the 19th century. By the end of that century, Swiss watchmakers began treating the dials of their timepieces with natural luminescent paint.

So which are the best luminous watches to buy today? With hundreds of watches online, choosing the best luminous watch can be confusing and time-consuming.

This review will guide you to make a better choice should you want to buy one.

 

The best luminous watches we discuss in this article

 

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.

 

Tritium

tritium tubes for the best luminous watches

A tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen. Tritium filled luminous tubes found on the hour markers and hands on the watch dial contains this low energy beta emitter.

Tritium produces a consistent luminosity that does not fade with time. So, 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.

Being radioactive, this technique 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.

Finally, tritium is radioactive, emitting weak radioactive radiation.

Tracers

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.

LumiBrite

This is Seiko’s in-house luminous paint. It is the lume used on some Seiko and Citizen watches. Read more on LumiBrite.

SuperLuminova

Nemoto & Co. Ltd. in Japan invented this luminous paint. Unlike the Luminova lume, this is not radioactive. Compared to other lumes, this luminous watch paint is by far the best lume. Many Swiss watchmakers use this lume for their watches.

 

Related Video: Dive Watch Lume Comparison

 

 

8 Best Luminous Watches

Best Tritium watches

Isobrite Ultra Bright T100 Tritium Watch (ISO100)

Isobrite ISO100 Ultra Bright 200m Dive/Tactical T100 Tritium Watch by Armourlite
  • T100 makes this watch up to 4 times brighter than a Luminox or Traser
  • T100 illumination lasts up to 50 years, which is double the life of a standard T25 tritium watch
  • T100 represents the latest technology in tritium watches and makes seeing the time in the dark much easier on the eyes
  • Ultra lightweight carbon-fiber reinforced case combined with scratch resistant sapphire crystal

Last update on 2020-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This Isobrite watch comes with T100 illuminated tubes that put off an excellent glow. The lume is bright, and it is easy to read the time in complete darkness.

Besides its bright lume, 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 watch 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.

 

Pros
  • The straps are comfortable on the wrist.
  • Has a scratch-resistant case.
  • Light-weight timepiece.
  • Tritium lume unidirectional bezel.
Cons
  • Lacks a screw down crown.

 

 

 

Victorinox Swiss Army Men’s I.N.O.X. Watch (Model: 241688.1)

SALE
Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Rubber Watch, 43mm, Blue
  • RUBBER STRAP. A smooth rubber strap wraps your wrist in soft comfort for a perfect fit, day or night. Etched lines in the band give a chain-link appearance, making this watch suitable for work, the weekend and a night out.
  • SWISS MADE. This Swiss Made watch is made to withstand 130 extreme endurance homologation tests. Case is crafted from high-grade hypoallergenic stainless steel. Analog quartz movement.
  • DIVE DEEPER. Able to withstand the toughest conditions, high pressure and tall drops, this I.N.O.X. watch is the ultimate explorer. Ready for pool or ocean dives, this watch can go down to depths of 200 meters. Water resistance: 20 ATM/200 m./660 ft.
  • WATCH DETAILS. 43 mm. Military time, date, end-of-life indicator, scratch-resistant, triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and screw-down crown. Removable black protection bumper.
  • TRUSTED QUALITY. Watches purchased from authorized retailers eligible for a 3-year limited warranty. Excludes battery life, normal wear and tear, improper handling, damage resulting from abuse, misuse, accidents or unauthorized repair.

Last update on 2020-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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 hands, a triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire 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 screw-down crown that is well protected. This luminous watch is water-resistant up to 200 meters.

 

Pros
  • 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.
Cons
  • The strap is hard and not comfortable.
  • The lume is not bright enough.

 

 

 

Luminox Men’s Navy Seal Dive Watch (Model: XS.3001)

SALE
Luminox Men's 3001 Quartz Navy Seal Dive Watch
  • Quartz Movement, Case material: Carbon reinforced PC
  • Case Bezel: Rotating 1-Way Diver, Case Back: Caseback with Screws, Crown: Double-Security Gasket
  • Case diameter: 43 mm
  • Polyurethane case, Black dial, Date function, Strap/Bracelet material Rubber / Silicone / PU
  • Water resistance 200 m / 660 ft / 20 atm
  • Precise Swiss-Quartz movement

Last update on 2020-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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 this luminous watch 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. Other features include a screw-down case back and crown for increased resistance to water,  a date display at 3 o’clock, and a black dial with white luminous watch hands for increased legibility.

 

Pros
  • Outstanding lume.
  • Very easy-to-read dial.
  • Keeps accurate time.
  • Screw-down case back and crown.
Cons
  • Comes with a mineral crystal.

 

 

 

Best Chemical Lume Watches

Seiko Men’s Automatic Watch (SKX007K)

SALE
Seiko Men's Automatic Analogue Watch with Rubber Strap SKX007K
  • Quality Japanese Automatic movement; Functions without a battery; Powers automatically with the movement of your arm
  • Hardlex crystal
  • Case diameter: 42 mm
  • Stainless-steel case; Black dial; Date-and-day functions
  • Water resistant to 660 feet (200 M): suitable for recreational scuba diving

Last update on 2020-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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 design keeps the crown from sticking into the skin when you move your wrist.

 

Pros
  • Super legible design.
  • Has a comfortable wrist band.
  • Has accurate timekeeping.
  • It has a dazzling lume.
Cons
  • Lacks a sapphire crystal.

 

 

 

Seiko Men’s Prospex PADI Samurai

Seiko Men's Prospex Special PADI Edition Samurai Black Dial, Black, Size No Size
  • Seiko 24 Jewels Self-Winding Automatic Movement with Hackable Second Hand (Calibre 4R36)
  • Stainless Steel Case and Band, Push Button Deployment Clasp with Safety Lock Feature
  • Hardlex Mineral Crystal, Date Display, Luminous Hands and Markers
  • Case Size: 44 mm Diameter, 12 mm Thickness
  • Water Resistant - 200 M, Screw Down Crown and Case Back

Last update on 2020-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you love the combination of blue and green lume, you might love picking this watch. This Seiko Prospex PADI watch uses blue LumiBrite lume on the hour, second hand, and indices while 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 steel watch, so not only is it attractive but very durable.

 

Pros
  • Very gorgeous watch.
  • Uses a distinct blue and green lume.
  • A good casual watch.
  • Very durable steel watch.
Cons
  • 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)

SALE
Citizen Eco Drive Promaster Diver Watch for Men, BN0150-28E
  • LIGHT-POWERED ECO-DRIVE: Converts any light, whether natural or artificial, into energy. Energy is stored in a permanently rechargeable power cell. The watch recharges continuously in any light to run forever, with no battery changes required, ever
  • WATER RESISTANT TO 200 M: This Citizen tactical watch is water resistant to 200 meters (660 feet). In general, it’s suitable to wear in the shower, in professional marine activities like swimming and snorkeling, for surface water sports, and for scuba diving
  • ANTI-REFLECTIVE MINERAL CRYSTAL: With a mineral crystal dial window, Citizen men’s watches are the epitome of rugged and wearable style. The key to protecting the day-date indicator and luminous hands, the anti-reflective mineral crystal allows a crisp time display
  • FOR YOUR ACTIVE LIFESTYLE: This Citizen stainless steel ISO-compliant water-resistant diving watch features a one-way rotating elapsed-time bezel, a strap with adjustable buckle closure, a luminous three-hand display with quartz movement, and a date-display window
  • GUARANTEE & 5 YEAR WARRANTY: At Citizen, we stand by quality and craftsmanship. Every Citizen purchase comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 5-year limited warranty so you can be sure your new Citizen timepiece meets your expectations

Last update on 2020-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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.

 

Pros
  • Hour and minute hands are large and easy to read.
  • The dial has a beautiful design.
  • It’s solar-powered.
  • Well-positioned crown.
Cons
  • The date window is tiny.
  • The watch strap is a little too stiff.

 

 

 

Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Navihawk Atomic Timekeeping Watch (JY8035-04E)

SALE
Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Navihawk Atomic Timekeeping Watch, JY8035-04E
  • Light-powered watch with orange accents featuring multi-function chronographs, luminous markers, and digital information displays
  • 48 millimeter stainless steel case with Anti-Reflective Mineral Crystal
  • Japanese quartz movement with analog display. Charge level display function. Even if daylight saving time is set for each city in WT-S mode (ON or OF (off)), if AU is set in RX-S mode, priority is given to the daylight saving time setting in RX-S mode, with ON automatically switched to OF or OF automatically switched to ON
  • Water resistant to 200 m (660 ft): In general, suitable for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports, but not scuba diving
  • Polyurethane band with fold-over-buckle-with-hidden-double-push-button closure. Turn the crown to align the mode hand

Last update on 2020-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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.

 

Pros
  • 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.
Cons
  • Lacks sapphire crystal.
  • It is an extra-large & heavy watch.
  • The second hand is not lumed.

 

 

 

Seiko Men’s Black Ion Prospex Dive Watch (Model: SRPB55)

Seiko SRPB55 Mens Black Ion Prospex Automatic Dive Watch
  • Seiko Prospex Automatic Diver.
  • This diver’s watch is designed with a black ion stainless steel case and silicone strap featuring a black bezel with highlights of yellow.
  • The black dial displays a date calendar with lumibrite hands and markers.
  • Automatic movement allows self and automatic winding capabilities and features 21,600 vibrations per hour, with a power reserve of approximately 41 hours, as well as 23 jewels.
  • 200 M Water Resistant.

Last update on 2020-08-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Besides other stainless steel options available, this Seiko Prospex dive watch comes with a black case and black silicone strap.

Its silicone band is comfortable and feels great on the wrist. If you love detail as I do, you’d notice that everything on this timepiece is aligned. The lume, bezel, and chapter ring have perfect alignment and the crown is dead centered.

The automatic movement that comes with this sporty looking luminous diver watch features 6 vibrations per second with an awesome power reserve of up to 41 hours. All these translate to better timekeeping.

Its black dial displays a date calendar at the 3 o’clock position and has LumiBrite hands and markers. Its lume is noticeably better than most watches within the same price point.

You need not worry should you want to take this timepiece for a swim. It features a 200-meter water resistance rating.

 

Pros
  • Bracelet is soft and comfortable.
  • Well-aligned lume and bezel.
  • It has a unique black design.
  • Has a very intense lume.
Cons
  • Tiny date widow.

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

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).

Are you using an affordable lume watch that is worth mentioning? Leave a comment below.

 

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