Noted for its specialist work and expertise in the field of long-term luminescence technology and its heritage in crafting robust tool watches – Luminox is a Californian-based watch manufacturer whose timepieces, solidly build, are all developed, assembled and executed in Switzerland.
Noted for its specialist work and expertise in the field of long-term luminescence technology and its heritage in crafting robust tool watches – Luminox is a Californian-based watch manufacturer whose timepieces, solidly build, are all developed, assembled and executed in Switzerland. Founded in 1989 it is still considered a relatively young manufacture, yet considering its growth as a pioneer in its “always visible technology” concept has come a long way over the last three decades. Its ever-evolving catalogue of bold, action-ready watches uses tritium gas-filled tubes that deliver astounding luminosity to the dials of its watches. Amongst its huge array of tool watches built for military personnel, professional divers and sports professionals, the brand manufactures instruments designed on visual elements taken from fighter jets as well as water resistant watches capable of performing underwater depths of 500 meters or more.
The history of Luminox watches
Towards the end of the late 1980s a gap in the market for new and improved watch luminosity became apparent. These qualities were needed in pilot’s watches and diver’s watches in particular, but also in those required for everyday use. Barry Cohen, a watch industry veteran, decided to pursue his research and development surrounding Swiss self-powered illumination technology, partnering with his friend, Richard Gumbo to later form the company Luminox. The manufacturer took its name from the Latin word for “Lume”, thus becoming recognised first and foremost for its expertise within the field of watch luminosity. When Cohen met with the officer in charge of Seals, the US Navy Sea, Air and Land company Nick North - the prospect of designing its own luminous watch for SEALs become a possibility. SEAL’s required a watch for night time use and Luminox had the answer. Luminox SEAL watches were tested for this role specifically withstanding the arduous conditions subjected to them. Luminox became the supplier of luminous watches to the SEAL organisation and the two have worked together ever since. Two years after this, the watchmaker released the 3001 Original Navy SEAL watch series, standing up to everyday use.
The late 1990s through to the earlier 2000s marked an important time for Luminox. Not only was the brand building on its reputation but its watches made it to the silver screen. The manufacturer also created its first series of models crafted from titanium. Unarguably, these versions provided a more lightweight alternative to steel but also, due to added benefits like a 10-year lithium battery and a strong sapphire crystal glass, these watches echoed designs closer to high-end luxury watches despite their affordability.
In 2006 Mondaine Watch Ltd acquired half of the Luminox company after it had opened its first of four brand stores in Tokyo. This enabled Luminox to become recognised on an international scale and a year later released its Navy SEAL Colormark 3051 series. It would go on to become its bestselling line. As a modification to the brand’s original Navy SEAL watch, it featured a carbon compound case and a highly scratch-resistant mineral crystal in comparison to the mineral glass used broadly within the watch industry at this point. With a presence in over 50 countries, Luminox became a brand recognised on a global scale. In 2009 Luminox expanded its target audience to reach the professional sporting industry. A year later it released a watch with staggering 1500-meter water resistance. The Luminox Deep Dive Automatic watch was an instant success, appealing to dive watch collectors as well as professional deep-sea explorers.
In 2013 Luminox became an official partner for the SXC – the Space Expeditions Corporation. It sparked the launch of a lightweight, extremely durable carbon compound case construction called the SXC GMT Space Series. During the year 2016, the Bernheim brothers bought out Co-founder, Barry Cohen’s shares of the company and acquired it. In addition to this, the company formalised the agreement it set up with the SEALs back in 1992 and became its official licensing partner. Over the next few years Luminox would work on upgrading its designs to meet the requirement of the New Swiss Made laws that came into effect in 2017. As a result, it released the Luminox Leatherback Sea Turtle Series. With 40 years of watchmaking experience behind it, Luminox has continued to push boundaries in watchmaking, creating timepieces that offer premium materials and cutting-edge technologies combined with remarkably affordable price tags.
Luminox’s self-sufficient Lume technology
Above all else, Luminox worked hard from the beginning to put itself on the map for its impressive luminosity. Differing from anything its rivals could offer at the time, the dial of a Luminox watch glowed brighter than anything ever seen in a watch before and this was down to a very special and highly complex technology. It superseded simply painting the indexes and hands of a watch with a material that would rely on light to work. Luminox’s luminosity would glow bright all day and all night for years without needing to rely on any light source. The brand’s watches can promise an “always visible” feature powered by the brand’s impressive LLT – Luminox Light Technology. It is a self-powered illumination system that utilizes gas tubes that light up the display of the watch during the night or in low-light conditions. As opposed to phosphorescent paint, the markers on a Luminox watch are expected to glow twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for up to 25 years, making them suitable for special force systems, particularly because they require no pushing of any buttons to activate a lit-up screen. The tritium gas tubes – also known as borosilicate glass capsules - remain visible on the hands and hour markers all the time. In addition to this, Luminox offers watches that also make use of Super-LumiNova material used widely throughout the luxury watch industry. Super-LumiNova requires external light to glow in the dark with its visibility and intensity depending on the length of time it has glowed for. This particular material can be seen in models from the Navy SEAL Colormark Nova watches.
Popular Luminox watches
Luminox Sea series
Luminox watches from the Sea Series are geared to perform underwater. Tailored to the wrists of professional and amateurs divers, these wristwatches - robust, legible and reliable - offer all the desirable features of a dive watch but with an appealing price tag. You can expect Luminox Sea watches to offer remarkable luminosity during the night or in dark conditions. Luminox Light Technology is an indispensable feature for the models within this collection, especially for night divers, wreck divers, deep-sea divers and rescue divers. Given that these robust wristwatches are developed for daring conditions experienced deep under the water, the Luminox watches from this collection offer water-resistant capabilities between 200 and 500 meters. In addition to this, the series offers both automatic and quartz-powered models as well as sizes that vary from a comfortable 39mm to a much broader 46mm.
Within the Luminox Sea Series is the Navy SEAL Colormark models, including chronograph variations. Fitted with unidirectional rotating bezels that only rotate one way, the risk of accidentally extending the dive time whilst underwater is eradicated. This feature ensures diver safety and accompanies a screwed-down crown and caseback to ensure optimal protection around the internal movement. Luminox watches from the Sea Series are completed on either a black polyurethane strap or a robust stainless steel bracelet, both of which transform the look of a dive watch considerably. While the rubber strap option is perfect for underwater submersion, the metal bracelet option is more classic for pairing with sophisticated attire.
The Navy SEAL 3500 series is part of the Luminox Sea collection but features a slightly larger case width of 45mm, while other models like the Spec Ops Challenge 3050 commemorate the brand’s partnership with the Navy SEALs by sending part of the sales proceeds directly to the Navy SEALs foundation.
The Luminox Air Series
Representing precision and durability, the Air Watch Series by Luminox comprises those models developed by the brand for elite pilots of Air Forces all over the world. Within this collection are models such as the F-117 Nighthawk 3400 with a specification that was built according to the requests of the US Air Force. The watch is characterised by a black stainless steel case with a larger, more angular profile. This watch was superseded by the 6422 model with an additional 24-hour time zone, improved luminosity and 200-meter water resistance. F-117 Nighthawk Stealth jets are engineered by one of the world’s largest defence contractor, Lockheed Martin Cooperation with which Luminox has a partnership with. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that innovations from the Luminox Air Series take precision to a new level, equipped with everything required for navigating the skies from the cockpit. Within the Luminox Air Watch Series is a more lightweight alternative crafted from titanium – the 44mm F22 Raptor 9240 – a tribute to the F22 aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin. The dial is inspired by the instrument panel and features a large date aperture.
The Luminox Land watch Series
To forge its Land Watch Series, Luminox partnered up with various law enforcement, elite force professionals and the military to create legible reliable and precise timekeeping tools for challenging conditions. Within this series are collections such as the Recon. The Luminox Recon Point Man 822 models are developed from Luminox’s proprietary Carbonox material and feature broad case widths measuring 45mm in diameter. With additional complications built into their profiles like tachymeter scales for measuring speed based on distance, coloured second countdown zones and compasses – these instruments were specially tailored for military personnel in every way. Lastly, inspired by classic field watches is the Luminox Atacama Field Watch collection. Equipped with robust stainless steel cases, supple yet durable rubber straps and large 44mm case diameters, these watches can sustain the knocks, shocks, bumps and impact experienced during the call of duty, but also double up as a dynamic and remarkably masculine wristwatch for wearing every day of the week.