Bright, Long Lasting Luminosity – The Ultimate Guide

Steve Mansfield
Steve Mansfield

Bright, long-lasting luminosity is the holy grail of all luminous applications that much is clear from the first five episodes of our Swiss Super-Lumi-Nova series.  Here in the sixth and final episode of our Swiss SuperLuminova series Albert Zeller, the CEO of Luminova A.G., and I explore what needs to be done to achieve that goal. 

Bright, Long Lasting Luminosity – Start With Fundamentals

To understand this episode, it is best to ensure you have watched the previous five episodes that have come before. They all contain valuable information about Swiss Super-LumiNova and key information to make this episode much more understandable. Just in case, you can catch up on episode one that introduced us to Super-LumiNova, what it really is and how dangerous it is or is not.  Episode two is all about emission colors and daylight colors, and the amazing research that keeps Super-LumiNova at the forefront of their industry.

Episode three goes into the fundamentals and looks at how the electrons move up and down in energy as they absorb and then release each photon of light.  Do not worry, we keep it simple, so hopefully, everyone can understand how it works. Episode four looks at the trade-off between daylight colors and luminous performance.  Finally, episode five looks into the various application methods of SuperLuminova and how the industry nomenclature has developed.

My name is Stephen Mansfield. I am one of the co-founders of SNGLRT. II am delighted to have the opportunity to be joined by Albert Zeller, the CEO of Swiss Super-LumiNova, who will introduce us to the ultimate for “lume lovers” – a new development call Lumicast. 

Bright Long Lasting Luminosity – Maximise Volume

Steve:

You have had years of experience in the company helping customers apply Swiss SuperLuminova.  I am sure that over that period of time, you have seen a few mistakes. What are the most common mistakes you see in the application of Luminova onto watches? 

Albert:

The application process is really something that has a huge impact on performance. It all starts with the construction of the luminous deposit. If someone wants to have a 50-micrometer engraving instead of 300 micrometers, you will already reduce your potential luminous performance in advance because the engraving depth is fixed. For example, if the thickness of the deposit is only one grain, it will never perform as well as a thick printing. This is defined by the physical parameters of the material and can not be overcome.  It is very similar to the physical boundaries adding colorants place on the material too. For the best performance, it is best to create a lot of space for the pigment, and then you will create a really high-performing luminous application.

A Black Sunray OHI2 Hour Ring With An Application of Blue Swiss Super-LumiNova Grade X1 on a White Outline creates bright long lasting luminosity
A Black Sunray OHI2 Hour Ring With The Index in Blue Swiss Super-LumiNova Grade X1 on a White Outline

Lumicast – The Holy Grail For Bright Long Lasting Luminosity

Steve:

As I said in the introduction to this episode, Lumicast is a newish product for you. This seems to be the ultimate solution for people who love the brightest luminous effect on their watch face. Can you tell us about Lumicast, how it is created, and how it is used?

Albert:

It is not that hard to understand. I am sure you have been messing around with your kids on the beach, and they are making sandcastles with their buckets. Lumicast works in the same way. Initially, a positive shape of the final form is created, and from this, a mold is taken; this is usually created in silicon. This container is equivalent to the kid’s bucket; the mold is filled with Super-LumiNova and is dried, hardened, rectified so that its base is completely smooth. Once the piece has hardened, it is transferred onto the watch face and removed from the mold.

This technique opens many different possibilities. Normally if you’ve been printing the index up to now, the printing will look a little roundish from the side and slightly higher in the middle than at the boundary. Whereas with a Lumicast piece, the edges will have well-defined rectangular shapes.  Many shapes are possible, including a diamond shape; you can see from the photo below that there is a volume to each of the numbers and sharp edges to each piece. 

Three Lumicast Indexes The Best For Bright Long Lasting Luminosity
Three Lumicast Indexes Highlighting Three different Emission Colors

That is the advantage of Lumicast because there is more volume of SuperLuminova; as we learned previously, the greater the volume, the better the luminous performance. So, where performance is the key and a significant aspect of the design, if the designer starts with this in mind, we can create different dimensions for the watch face, which looks great in practical use.

Lumicast – As Flexible As You Need

Steve:

Is there a minimum size that you can make these Lumicast pieces?

Albert:

There needs to be a depth of at least 200-250 micrometers for it to work successfully.  There is no maximum, but from a practical perspective, the watch’s dimensions will limit this as you probably do not want to have a watch case that is 30 centimeters high.

Steve:

Do the Lumicast pieces have structural integrity, or are they very delicate?

Albert:

This can be highly influenced by the binder system. If you do not use a rigid binder system, then they can be delicate. It is possible to make the pieces flexible if you choose the correct binder.

Steve:

How would you typically attach each Lumicast piece to the watch face?

Albert:
Four Dials Illuminating The Performance of Lumicast In The Dark and Four Different Emission Colors illustrating their bright luminosity
Four Dials Illuminating The Performance of Lumicast In The Dark and Four Different Emission Colors

Usually, they are glued on the dial. This way, the Lumicast piece can be transferred directly from the mold onto the dial with precision. We have also made some prototypes where the Lumicast pieces are attached with feet through the watch face exactly the same way regular indexes are fixed into position. One thing to note is that the feet holes in the dial have to be slightly bigger than normal; otherwise, it is difficult to set each piece. We have also done tests where we have used metallic feet set into the mold before the Lumicast hardens so that the whole piece can be riveted into place.

A Big Thank You For Sharing

Steve:

Albert, thank you so much. You have been extremely generous with your time. You brought us through SuperLuminova from beginning to end, and I certainly learned a great deal. I hope that our readers have learned a lot as well. I would like to take a little time to recognize you and acknowledge you and your colleagues at Luminova AG.

SuperLuminova is a family-owned company that began with your great grandfather. I think he was probably more involved in radioactive materials when he started the company. However, the desire to continuously drive innovation is still evident in everything you do at Luminova. Daniel and I certainly had a great time working with Superluminova when we were developing SNGLRTY. We are very grateful for that, and we are very grateful for the support you have given us as watch entrepreneurs. I would like to acknowledge that, and I would like to recognize your team.

Thank you very much for making this possible.

Albert:

We are a family company, and in total, we are only 21 people, including a few of my family. Maybe that is why our company’s spirit is a little less, such as industrial, more family-style.  We aim to have very open communication and seek a similarly open and friendly relationship with our partners. We do not like to say clients because we are partnering at the end of the day. This works well for us where, with an honest exchange, we can help each other out.

More Questions?

Unfortunately, that is the end of our SuperLuminova series. I hope that it has been illuminating and brought a little more light to your understanding of luminous materials. There are obviously key criteria that need to be understood to get the best luminous effect on any watch.  I hope that we have armed you with some critical questions to help you one step closer to your ideal watch. If you are like Daniel and me, you have a better understanding of how to achieve that ideal effect you are looking for. 

If you have any questions or comments on anything we have done, please put your comments below. Please sign up for our newsletter and join us as we explore more aspects of watches and watchmaking. We will make sure you do not miss anything.

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We look forward to seeing you the next time.

 
 

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