IWC Introduces A Shining New Material: Ceralume

IWC's got itself a new shiny, but it doesn't have a new watch to show us just yet.


Yesterday IWC released a teaser of a new material they’d been quietly working on. Unfortunately, I received this information about an hour before the embargo was released, and yesterday was a bank holiday here in the UK so I was enjoying some extra time off. That means I’m not going to give you a “spotted” style article, but instead, we’ll take a look at the material in question.

The concept of luminous watch components stems back over a hundred years. Panerai’s “Radiomir” was the first application of luminescent paint being used to give instruments glow-in-the-dark tendencies, although their paint used radioactive elements to achieve this which subsequently gave a lot of dial painting staff mouth cancer. Read more about the famous “Radium Girls” for information on that topic. Panerai would introduce a non-radioactive paint in the 1960s called “Luminor” which would pave the way for new watches and legitimately save the skin of the people assembling the watches.

We’ve seen all kinds of colours of lume recently, and more watches are using more of it from the sleek application from, you guessed it, Panerai on their PAM1117 to Bulgari hiding symbols in the lume with their Aluminium Steve Aoki edition. 

Now, IWC slaps all of those aside as it unveils its latest development: Ceralume. If you’re a watch nerd already, you’ll know where this is going, but for those who are newer to the (rabbit hole), this is a new kind of material that IWC has developed. It’s ceramic with pigments of SuperLumiNova blended in allowing for full coverage of the piece rather than relying on painting or dipping to do all the work.

That’s one thing, and it’s a very impressive thing, but when coupled with a strap that is also totally luminescent and a glowing dial, too. In the press photos it looks, well, it looks blurry but also very distinctive. The reason for the blurriness is simple: as it stands this is all conceptual. Sure, IWC has developed a new material, but it doesn’t have a new watch to show off at the moment. Although the photos of Lewis Hamilton they sent us indicate they’re not far off from showing us something new, the piece seen in the photos is just a concept.