NoctiLumina® Watch Luminizing Kits and Materials

Watch Luminizing Kits and Materials

Some Useful Tips

  • The mixture is not like paint. The best consistency is almost paste-like. Thicker applications glow better. A white base coat also improves glow.
  • The thinner should not normally be used in the initial mixture. It can be used to thin a mixture that has begun to set too early.
  • It is always best to remove the old lume, but sometimes this is not easily done. Care must be taken not to scratch dials or hands. NoctiLumina can sometimes be applied over the old lume, but thickness becomes a problem. Too thick of an application on the dial can interfere with the movement of the hands.
  • Note that old radium-based lumes can be hazardous even if they are no longer glowing. The phosphors may have decomposed, but the radium will still be highly radioactive since its half-life is 1601 years. Since radium and its byproduct, radon gas, are especially hazardous if ingested or inhaled, we cannot recommend working on old radium-containing timepieces. See this paper. NoctiLumina is not radioactive.
  • Some people like to use watch oilers as applicators. Others prefer toothpicks or pegwood thinned out with a knife. Brushes do not really work.
  • Skeleton hands are actually very easy to lume. No real skill is required. Here is a quick tutorial on luming skeleton hands. Note that I generally use a piece of Rodico with my fingers to hold the hand rather than holding it with a toothpick as shown in the tutorial. I feel this gives me more control and less chance of the hand moving.
  • Here is a tutorial on how to remove and replace hands. Hand removal and replacement tools are available at Jules Borel, Otto Frei, and Esslinger.
  • The dial markers are a little more difficult. Very small imperfections are visible to the eye, so a very careful application is needed to get the edges and corners straight. I would suggest some practicing on a flat piece of metal or plastic using a fairly thick, almost paste-like mixture of lume. One person I know actually produces little lume markers on a sheet of Teflon, then when they are partially cured, he trims and tailors them to the proper size and shape to fit the marker. He then peels the still-flexible lume shapes off the teflon with a small knife and applies them to the watch with a microdrop of binder.
  • Needless to say, all of this is best performed under at least 5x magnification. 10x is better. Magnifying loupes are available at the above links. A binocular microscope is a perfect tool for this, but is not necessary.

Using NoctiLumina® Pigments and Binders for Bezel Lumination

For bezels we recommend using Binder 1A due to its excellent adhesive qualities. However, Binder 1A will dissolve or soften most paints and lacquers, so we usually recommend using Binder 1A only on bezels that are made of bare metal or ceramic, or are PVD/DLC coated. The only exception to this is that Binder 1A-based lume can often be applied over white paint existing in the bezel indices. The paint may soften, but will harden again after 72 hours, resulting in better glow performance due to reflection from the white substrate.

To luminize bezels, mix the pigment with the binder in a moderately thick paste-like consistency (usually between 2:1 and 1:1 by volume). Apply the material to the bezel using thinned pegwood or a watch oiler, under magnification. Preferably, leave the surface of the pigment slightly lower than the top surface of the bezel so there is room for a thin top coat. The lume should be allowed to cure for 72 hours at room temperature.

A optional top coat can be used to protect the lume from dirt and impact. Binder 2 is best for the top coat since it provides a very hard and durable surface. Binder 3 can also be used as a top coat. Apply Binder 2 or 3 using thinned pegwood or a watch oiler. Cure for 72 hours at room temperature.

Epoxy can also be used as a top coat. Some epoxies tend to block ultraviolet light (which charges the lume), so we recommend testing the epoxy by creating two dots of lume on a piece of white cardboard or other white surface. Let it cure and then add a layer of your epoxy to one of the dots. Charge the dots in sunlight and see if the glow is affected.

People are doing amazing things with NoctiLumina®