Seiko Lumibrite vs. SuperLuminova vs. Rolex Chromalight, etc, etc… there are lot’s of lume comparisons out there. Heck, KeepTheTime even created an entire series called LUME WARS! But, aside from just looking at how brightly lume glows, it’s also neat to explore the technology and innovation behind each brand.
Lumi Brite is a very impressive type of luminescence found in Seiko divers ranging from a few hundred dollars to models reaching into the thousands. In fact, many watch geeks believe every collection is deserving of an Orange Monster, partly because of the great lume they offer.
About LumiBrite from Seiko:
Lumibrite is a luminous paint that is completely harmless to human beings and natural environment, containing no noxious materials such as radioactive substance. Lumibrite is a newly-developed luminous paint that absorbs the light energy of the sunlight and lighting apparatus in a short time and stores it to emit light in the dark. For example, if exposed to a light of more than 500 lux for approximately 10 minutes, Lumibrite can emit light for 3 to 5 hours. Please note, however, that, as Lumibrite emits the light it stores, the luminance level of the light decreases gradually over time. The duration of the emitted light may also differ slightly depending on such factors as the brightness of the place where the watch is exposed to light and the distance from the light source to the watch.
This excerpt is an official description of Lumibrite found in a Grand Seiko user manual here. Jiro Uchida, president of Seiko at the time Lumibrite was introduced summed it up in a single sentence:
“Lumibrite is a virtually permanent, non-radioactive, fluorescent coating that can light up the face of a watch, or just its hands and numbers, for up to five hours after two minutes exposure to sunlight.”
Nemoto X Seiko Patent History
Japan-based Kenzo Nemoto founded his luminous paint business back in 1941. During World War II, he supplied aircraft and submarines with lumed gauges and meters. After the war, he had the idea use this product on clocks in civilian homes. He approached Seiko and the rest is history:
“Kenzo hit on the idea of painting luminous paint on the numerals and hands of watches and clocks to allow one to tell the time even at night. Kenzo took this idea to Seiko, a corporation of watches and clocks, and asked Seiko to “let him paint luminous paint on the dial plates of clocks.” After receiving the dial plates of clocks from Seiko, Kenzo would paint luminous paint on dial plates in a small workshop next to his house. Kenzo started work by delivering clocks painted with luminous paint to Seiko.” –Nemoto & Co.
Nemoto & Co. holds the patent for the original phosphorescent pigment LumiNova which was invented by them in 1993. Lumi-Brite or LumiBrite is essentially a Seiko-made and distributed product of LumiNova, while “Super-LumiNova” is the Swiss-licensed version of the same technology.
Interestingly, this article from October 31, 1994 mentions that an exclusive deal between Nemoto and Seiko was initially for a limited amount of time:
“Lumibrite is a patent of Japanese manufacturer Nemoto. Seiko holds the exclusive rights to market watches using the material until March.”
When Did Seiko Officially Introduce LumiBrite Lume?
We were unable to find an exact launch date for when Seiko began using LumiBrite, but we know it was used as far back as 1994. This article from October 31, 1994 talks about the roll-out of LumiBrite advertising and features quotes from top Seiko executives.
“Jeff Ferguson, Seiko advertising and sales administration manager, says although the target group for the Lumibrite line is consumers aged 15 to 30, there has been a strong response from other market sectors such as seniors and night-duty nurses.”
Since Lumibrite was introduced around the same time as Timex IndiGlo watches, it’s interesting to note that Seiko’s marketing campaigns were hitting hard with ads claiming “that watches featuring Lumibrite ‘glow 10 times brighter than ever before with no buttons to push.”
1. Longer output duration
It glows at its full brightness after a brief exposure to sunlight or artificial light (more than 500lux) for about 10 minutes. The light lasts for about 3-5 hours in the dark, which is more than 10 times longer than conventional luminous paint.
2. Stronger glow intensity
The intensity of glow in the dark after storing light energy is much brighter than that of conventional fluorescent luminous paint and radioactive luminous paint.
3. Safe for people and environment
It is completely free of radioactive substances, ensuring safety for both people and the environment. Furthermore, since there is no legal restriction on use, it is possible to cover even the entire dial.
4. Semi-permanent longevity
Because it is made of inorganic material, LumiBrite quality is sustained for a long period, allowing it to be used semipermanently.