Rolex Chromalight vs Superluminova

Published on Tuesday 2nd of November 2021
Rolex Watch History Watchmaking

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Rolex Lume Banner

An integral component to a Rolex watch is how well it works in little or no light. Look at any Rolex divers watch for instance; if it didn’t glow in the dark it would be useless as a dive watch. A diver depends on how legible that watch is in murky waters. The same goes for watches worn for other adventures, such as mountaineering or cave exploring. A big selling point of the first Explorer watch was its ability to tell the time in the dark.

I think for most Rolex owners the lume on the dial is possibly one of the best features on the watch. The tachymeter, date calendar or even cyclops date bubble all sound great and people always insist on the extra but for practicality which is best? How many times have you needed to look at your watch in the dark or in the middle of the night? Surprising how many times a week this excellent feature on Rolex watches helps you.

Have you ever wondered why some Rolex watches glow blue in the dark while others glow green? The difference lies in the type of luminescent material used. Vintage Rolex watches first used radium followed by tritium to illuminate in low light. Rolex today use Superluminova or Chromalight for luminescence.

Rolex SuperLuminova

Rolex began using Luminova in 1998, Rolex quickly upgraded to Superluminova in 2000. Both the terms Luminova and Superluminova are in fact brand names for a photo luminescent material. Rolex watches with Superluminova details glow green in the dark.
SuperLuminova first needs to be charged by light to give an afterglow this will illuminate the face of a watch in the dark. The SuperLuminova will not fade or discolour over time.

Rolex Submariner Lume Green
Rolex Submariner Lume Green


Rolex Chromalight Debut 2008

Rolex used the new Chromalight display on the Deepsea Sea-Dweller. Still the same photo luminescent material, but this time, rather than green, the new Rolex compound gives off a blue glow. According to Rolex, Chromalight can last up to eight hours, which is more than double the time of other luminescent materials. Following the Rolex Deepsea, Rolex began furnishing other sports watches such as the Daytona, the Submariner and the GMT-Master with Chromalight, rather than SuperLuminova.


Rolex Submariner Lume Blue
Rolex Submariner Lume Blue


While all current Rolex Oyster Professional watches sport the blue Chromalight display, there are some Rolex watches that still glow with green Superluminova. Some modern Rolex Milgauss and now discontinued Datejust II watches include both the blue and green luminescence.

Author M Moran

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