And Rolex wasn’t the only radioactive brand.During World War I, factory workers painting clock and watch faces with radium were told the phosphorescent paint was safe – and instructed to bring their brushes to a point by licking them. In doing so, they ingested lethal amounts of the material, some even painting their nails and faces for fun. Many “Radium Girls,” as they are now called, fell seriously ill or died.
Fortunately, the watch industry has since turned to the much safer Super-Luminova, invented in 1993. Super-Luminova is now the standard material for any brand that wants to turn its parts into a nightlight. And although Super-Luminova has been used in industry for decades, it is mostly limited to numbers and hands, much like the original radioactive GMTs from the 1950s. However, Bell & Ross, Mühle Glashütte and Christopher Ward draw making the most of the material by plating it onto the dial and turning average watches into funky, bright specimens.
Where and when to buy them: All parts are now available on each brand’s respective website: Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Full Lum ($ 5100) Mühle Glashütte’s SAR Rescue-Timer ($ 2399) and Christopher Ward’s C1 Worldglow ($ 1995).
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