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IWC debuts Ceralume technology that glows in the dark (and it’s seriously cool)

IWC debuts Ceralume technology that glows in the dark

IWC Ceralume technology

IWC recently revealed “Ceralume,” a luminous ceramic technology (hence the name that sounds like a celebrity couple mashup) and the inaugural watch that wears it. The Ceralume IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is the brand’s first entirely luminescent ceramic watch, combining the scratch resistance of the material with a glow-in-the-dark luminous effect. Like a watch straight out of Ghostbusters, the case, dial, and strap all illuminate, adding to the otherworldly look. It’s got us feeling all kinds of early-aughts nostalgia for those plastic stars that we used to stick on our roof, though this new technology won’t do any damage to your wall paint.

What is Super-LumiNova, and how does IWC use it?

IWC Ceralume technology Pilot's watch

For several years, luminescent material has played a crucial role in watchmaking, though that’s putting it lightly. That’s exemplified in just about every new watch introduction these days, with almost every single one featuring a “Super-LumiNova” dial. Super-LumiNova itself was created by Swiss firm RC Tritec, and according to IWC, it’s an advanced ceramic material that accumulates light energy from natural and artificial sources, holds it temporarily, and then releases it as illumination. This process can be repeated over and over again without the material losing its ability to store light. IWC debuted the first watch to feature a black zirconium oxide ceramic case in 1986, followed by a brown silicon nitride and a black boron carbide, known for being exceptionally hard. Thus, ceramic cases have become a fundamental part of IWC.

How was Ceralume technology created?

Lewis Hamilton wearing IWC Ceralume technology Pilot's watch

So, how exactly was this Ceralume technology created? IWC’s XPL engineering division made Ceralume by blending ceramic powder with Super-LumiNova pigments, with tests showing the case could glow for 24 hours in the dark. While white ceramic cases typically involve combining zirconium oxide with other metallic oxides, IWC integrated Super-LumiNova pigments into this to create the Ceralume.

A challenge IWC had in blending the materials was that the different particle sizes clumped together, so, they used a ball milling process in which they ground together the powders with a ball before heating them at high temperatures to form the case. IWC claims it’s the first watch to feature this fully luminous ceramic case, and we certainly believe them.

The Ceralume IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is not commercially available

We should note that this watch is a prototype, so it’s unfortunately not available for commercial sale at the moment. However, IWC has indicated that Ceralume will be a key element in upcoming products, so be on the lookout for that. However, it was seen on Lewis Hamilton in Monaco during the Grand Prix. Ah, yes, the rich and famous get so many perks. This new Pilot’s chronograph is inspired by the Top Gun Lake Tahoe model, which, in our opinion, is one of IWC’s most aesthetically pleasing watches.

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Sarah Veldman
Sarah has been a freelance writer for over 7 years now, having started while she was living out of a suitcase and traveling…
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