One of the many improvements Rolex affords its’ wearers is night visibility. After decades of lackluster night reading capability, Rolex took an existing technology and improved it. Introduced in 2008 on the Rolex DeepSea Sea Dweller (DSSD), and then on the Submariner Date diving watch, Chromalight is now Rolex’s go-to luminescent material used on practically all Rolex watches introduced since then.
According to Rolex, Chromalight uses an innovative luminescent material that extends the illumination threshold in dark conditions. Chromalight emits a blue glow that lasts longer than its predecessor, SuperLuminova. If the watch has been in the sunlight all day, Chromalight will glow all night. SuperLuminova is the industry standard luminescent material used by numerous watch brands around the globe. Although SuperLuminova has good luminescent characteristics, its glow fades as the night progresses and seems that the length of time SuperLuminova is exposed to light is directly proportional to how long will glow. Chromalight, on the other hand, glows more quickly when going into the dark and, its blue glow lasts much longer into the night. The blue hue is also easier on the eyes than the green SuperLuminova.
Of the many ideas and patents Rolex has contributed to the watch industry, luminescence is not one of them. The pursuit for nighttime visibility plagued both the watch and flying instrument industry. The early 20th Century, radioactive Radium was used but with dastardly results to the workers who applied the material. Radium was discontinued for Tritium, another radioactive material, but at a level that was not as lethal. Tritium had a bright glow, but its overall ability to glow only lasted a few years and it tended to turn brown in prolonged periods of sunlight. Luminova was patented back in 1940 by Nemoto of Japan, but did not come into wide use until 50 years later when Tritium fell from being the industry standard. SuperLuminova is essentially the same as Luminova but the name distinction is to separate it from Nemoto’s licenses Swiss-based partner Tritec.
One of the areas where battery powered watches have an advantage is wiht night visibility. Production quartz watches utilize a button to depress to light the LCD screen with each use being a negative hit on battery life. This is yet another area where Rolex shines (no pun intended). Chromalight is visible all night long and does not necessitate another hand to depress a button to read the watch with no worry about accelerating battery drain.
Chromalight is a fantastic improvement to SuperLuminova and is only available on a Rolex watch.
– Sheldon Smith