Are Luminous Watches Dangerous? Are They Radioactive?




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Luminous watches captivate many people as these glow in the dark. If you search online about luminous watches, you may find many articles claiming that these watches are dangerous.

What Are Luminous Watches Made Of

Well, in the beginning, harmful radioactive elements were used in these watches, making them dangerous. However, with the passing of time and the advancement of technology, the possibilities of radiation have been completely minimized.

Here is a related article that might interest you on How Does Watch Lume Work? Different Types Of Watch Lume.

So, these watches are not dangerous nowadays. Still not convinced? Well, let us provide you with an answer regarding this.

What Are Luminous Watches Made Of?

Luminous watches are made of photo luminescent materials. These materials cause these watches to glow in the dark. Some great examples of photo luminescent materials are radium and tritium. 

Nowadays, these watches are made of tritium. However, in the early stages, radium was used as the primary luminous material in these watches.

Are They Radioactive?

Yes, the materials used here are radioactive. However, modern luminous watches are not radioactive at all. Rather, nowadays, the quality is very closely monitored for each watch so that they do not turn out to be radioactive.

Are Radium Watches Safe To Wear?

Radium watches were very popular back in the 1910s to the 1960s. The watch companies hired women to paint radium on the watch dials. Although the companies ensured that there wouldn’t be any side effects, it was not true. The radium in these watches was radioactive and caused harm to many workers and people. 

Moreover, Radium doesn’t last forever. So, with time. the luminosity of these watches would disappear. So, collecting these watches as antiques was not an option. 

Although the production of luminous watches using radium is now extinct, it is better to not wear a radium watch to ensure your safety.

Are Tritium Watches Hazardous To Health?

Are Tritium Watches Hazardous To Health

The concern with the usage of radium in watches rose a lot in the early 1960s. Hence, tritium was introduced as a replacement for radium in the late 1960s. 

It had a lower radiation level than radium. In addition to that, its half-life was also much longer, making it last much longer than radium.

However, tritium also radiates beta rays. So, these possessed a slight risk of being exposed to radiation.

That’s why another solution was invented. Rather than painting tritium directly on dials, the tritium gasses were enclosed in borosilicate glasses. This prevented any possibility of exposure to radiation. As a result, Tritium watches are safe to wear.

Do Watch Companies Still Use Radioactive Materials?

Yes, as stated before, companies use radioactive materials to this date. However, radioactive materials like tritium are kept in an enclosed chamber. So, the chances of radiation are much lower.

However, companies still wanted to stop using radioactive materials altogether. So, they came up with some different solutions. 

Many watches available in today’s market now follow the principle of electroluminescence. In this case, electricity is passed through the phosphor, which in turn causes the phosphor to glow. This is also a viable alternative to radioactive watches.

The most popular alternative, however, is luminova. Introduced in the 1990s, these quickly replaced almost everything available. It is basically a photoluminescent pigment. Strontium aluminate is used to make luminova.

With time, super luminova took over the market. These materials are mostly used in the luminous watches available on the market.

Do Companies Follow Safety Protocols While Making Luminous Watches?

In the early stage of making luminous watches, there was no definite guideline for making these watches. However, the use of luminova, electroluminescence and photoluminescent pigments has greatly reduced the chances of radiation.

Some companies, however, use tritium to this day. But, rather than painting it directly on watches, tritium is now enclosed in a chamber to reduce the chances of radioactivity.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

At this stage of the article, let’s see some FAQs, that people frequently ask about Luminous Watches:

Are Modern Luminous Watches Radioactive?

Answer: No. Modern luminous watches use different technologies and materials, like luminova, and superluminova that are not radioactive.

Does Lume Degrade Over Time?

Answer: Lume eventually degrades over time. Although the lume will not stop glowing altogether, the glow will diminish with time.

What Year Did They Stop Using Radium In Watches?

Answer: Radium was last used in 1968. After that, companies stopped using radium and started using tritium.

How Much Radiation Does A Radium Watch Emit?

Answer: Wearing a radium watch continuously for a year could expose a person to between 65 and 130 millirems of radiation, according to a  research by the Public Health Service.


As we have explained in this article, you can be assured that there’s no chance of radiation from luminous watches.

You can buy a luminous watch if you want. But, check which material has been used in the watch you want to buy. 

If this article was of any help to you, we’d be happy.

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