And Rolex wasn’t the only radioactive brand during World War I, female factory workers who painted the dials of watches with radium were told that the glow-in-the-dark paint was safe – and instructed to lick their brushes to get their brushes to a point . In the process, they ingested deadly amounts of the material – some even painted their nails and faces for fun. Many of the “Radium Girls”, as they are called today, became seriously ill or died.
Fortunately, the watch industry has since switched to the much safer Super-Luminova, which was invented in 1993. Super-Luminova is now the standard material for any brand that wants to turn their parts into a night light. And while Super-Luminova has been used in industry for decades, it’s mostly limited to digits and hands – much like the original radioactive GMTs from the 1950s. However, Bell & Ross, Mühle Glashütte, and Christopher Ward make the most of the material by brushing it across the dial and turning average watches into funky, glowing specimens.
Mühle Glashütte’s SAR Rescue-Timer
Where and when to buy them: All parts are available now on the respective brand’s website: Bell V2-94 Full Lum (US $ 5,100), Mühle Glashütte SAR Rescue-Timer (US $ 2,399), and Christopher Ward’s C1 Worldglow (US $ 1,995).