Material Innovation: IWC Unveils Ceralume® and the First Totally Luminous Ceramic Concept Watch

Lewis Hamilton was spotted wearing the fully glow-in-the-dark concept watch made with Ceralume® during the Monaco GP 2024
Material Innovation: IWC Unveils Ceralume® and the First Totally Luminous Ceramic Concept Watch
May 28, 2024
Material Innovation: IWC Unveils Ceralume® and the First Totally Luminous Ceramic Concept Watch

Luminescent materials in watches, basically, refer to substances that glow in the dark; these allow watch faces to be visible in low-light conditions. Such materials can store energy when exposed to light and then release it as visible light over time. Contributing to the advancements in this particular area of watchmaking, luxury timepiece brand IWC Schaffhausen has introduced Ceralume®, a unique luminous ceramic, and the first totally luminous ceramic concept watch, building on its previous popularity with lume. However, at this stage, it's still a notion that hasn't been commercialised yet.

Following a highly sophisticated and patent-pending method created by IWC's engineering division XPL, Ceralume® allows the brand to manufacture fully luminous ceramic watch casings for the first time. This is accomplished by homogeneously combining ceramic powders with high-quality Super-LumiNova® pigments, a bright substance that functions as a battery to store light energy. During dark chamber tests, a timepiece made with the Ceralume® technology produced a bright bluish light that lasted for over 24 hours.

In addition to the Ceralume® casing, the concept watch boasting the Pilot's Watch Chronograph 41 design has a white luminous dial and a white luminescent rubber strap. The dial and the strap have also been treated with Super-LumiNova® pigments. Furthermore, the dial's brass base is coated with the Super-LumiNova® solution before printing is applied. The white rubber strap, which is also infused with Super-LumiNova® pigments, is manufactured using an injection moulding process.

Traditional white ceramic is created by combining zirconium oxide with various metallic oxides. The powders are formed into a green body, machined to the final geometry, and sintered at high temperatures in a kiln. To make the white ceramic glow in the dark, Super-LumiNova® pigments are added to the raw materials. Ceralume®'s development faced hurdles to maintaining a homogenous blend of raw ingredients with varying particle sizes and preventing particle buildup. To solve these issues, IWC engineers employed a specialised ball milling method for the raw materials. The bright ceramic required particular sintering and grinding settings.

Last weekend, during the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was spotted wearing this concept watch. The ace racing driver has been seen flaunting unique timepieces in the past as well ― take the Full-Black IWC Big Pilot and the Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Lake Tahoe. All in all, insofar as the concept watch is concerned, while the end product may be polarising or over the top for some, it certainly looks cool.

Image Credits: IWC