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Lume, short for luminescence, was added to watches to make them readable in low-light conditions.
 

Before the advent of lume, people struggled to read the time on their watches in the dark. Lume solved this problem by allowing the watch hands and hour markers to glow in the dark, typically using a phosphorescent material such as radium, tritium, or more recently, various non-radioactive compounds like Super-LumiNova. This innovation greatly enhanced the usability and convenience of watches, making them functional in any lighting situation. Today, lume is a standard feature on many watches, particularly those designed for outdoor activities or professional use.

 

Lume on modded watch by WatchErik

 

The addition of luminescent material to watches, commonly known as "lume," dates back to the early 20th century. Swiss watchmaker Rolex is often credited with pioneering the use of luminescent materials on watches with their "Radiomir" and "Luminor" models in the 1910s and 1930s, respectively. The luminescent material used in early watches was radium-based, which later proved to be hazardous due to its radioactive properties. Subsequently, safer alternatives like tritium and modern luminous compounds have been developed and used in watchmaking.

 

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