Like many other American success stories, LUMINOX came from a forward-thinking individual realizing a need in the market and meeting it. Barry Cohen had been in the fashion watch business for quite some time when he came across a Swiss self-powered illumination system and knew that it would make watches more visible and easier to read in low or no light situations.

As a result, Cohen and a partner developed watches using this unique illumination system (called Luminox Light Technology) and LUMINOX was born back in 1989 (Lumi is Latin for light while Nox is Latin for dark), driven by a commitment to offer cutting-edge luminescence and readability in its line of high performance sports watches.

The Luminox Navy SEAL watch is the timepiece that made Luminox famous. The officer in charge of procurement for the Navy SEALs, Nick North, was sent to a trade show specifically to look for a new, more dependable watch for night missions. He approached Luminox’s founder Barry Cohen to develop a watch specifically for them and the Navy SEAL watch was born.

After Luminox provided the watches to the SEALs, more elite units contacted them directly, while at the same time Luminox began marketing the watch across the country and the world. Luminox was then approached by US Air Force pilots flying the F-17 fighter jet. They were wearing the Navy SEAL timepieces, but chafed at the word “Navy” on the dial. Luminox then developed a watch for these pilots and approached Lockheed Martin, the makers of the F-17, for a picture of the plane to use in the catalog. This initial contact turned into an exclusive arrangement to produce Lockheed Martin timepieces, including watches dedicated to the F-117 Nighthawk, F-16 Fighting Falcon, SR71 Blackbird and the new F-22 Raptor.

Throughout the following 20 years, Luminox has never strayed from its mission and this has been confirmed and validated by the many elite military and law enforcement units that have adopted Luminox as standard equipment. Luminox has expanded its collection to include a variety of styles, created for the active consumer, the sportsman, law enforcement and military groups, divers and more. Currently, Luminox is distributed in 40 countries around the world and supplies elite units from all over the world. In addition, the man on the street has shown particular interest in Luminox, anxious to use the watches put to the test every single day – on the world’s most difficult jobs, figuring rightly that if they have been requested by, designed for and used by the Navy SEALs, they have to be able to stand up to every day use.

The Technology

The Luminox Light Technology makes Luminox watches extremely visible at night – in fact, the technology Luminox uses provides 24/7 luminosity, no matter the conditions, for 25 years. Most other watches use luminescent paint that has to be charged by a light source and fades very quickly, or a “push to light” system, where you push a button for battery-driven illumination. Luminox, however, uses propriety technology, in the past reserved for the military, that makes Luminox watches stand out, literally.

Each Luminox watch features tiny gas lights (borosilicate glass capsules), which are always lit, on the hands, hour markers and when necessary, bezels. As a result of this unique technology, Luminox watches are always readable at a glance, no matter the conditions. The U.S. military has long recognized the advantages of micro gas light sources and their use is mandated in procurement specification MIL-W-46374F. Being able to read the watches in any conditions, even in total darkness, is an important requirement of many military and law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. Navy SEALs use the watches, as do U.S. Air Force pilots, FBI and ATF agents, Secret Service officers, Border Patrol units, Coast Guard officers, SWAT teams, as well as general law enforcement officers, helicopter search and rescue pilots, professional divers and other groups. The Luminox Light Technology system is hand applied in each and every watch. Though more complicated, expensive and time consuming than normal luminescence, it is one of the things that makes Luminox watches special. This unique technology and the additional quality control steps Luminox mandates require extraordinary attention to detail and care in manufacturing. All Luminox watches are Swiss-made.


Luminox watches are Swiss Made, produced by Luminox’s corporate partner, Mondaine Watch Company, one of the leaders in Swiss manufacturing. Located in Zurich with manufacturing facilities in Biberist, Switzerland, Mondaine recently won a Swiss Logistics Award for its “just in time” production. Mondaine applies all its years of experience when producing the complicated Luminox watches.


Lockheed Martin®, the largest defense contractor in the world, and maker of some of the most unique and compelling jets in aviation history, is a giant in the aviation world, a standard bearer for professionalism, attention to detail and the highest possible quality. The fact that Lockheed Martin has chosen Luminox to make signature watches based on their airplanes is a true feather in the brand’s cap.

Like the U.S. Navy SEALs, military pilots flying the F-117 Nighthawk™ Stealth jets out of Edwards Air Force Base approached Luminox to make watches specifically for them, utilizing the brand’s unique design and the self-powered illumination system employed in all Luminox watches.

These pilots were already wearing the basic Navy SEAL models and using the illuminated second hand to time bombing missions, but they chafed at the word “Navy” on these watches. They asked Luminox to make a watch specifically for them. Luminox immediately began work on a new model for these elite pilots. In order to get a picture of the F-117 Nighthawk™ to use in communication materials, Luminox contacted Lockheed Martin®. The company was interested in developing a multi-year program to develop a series of aviation-inspired timepieces tied to specific fighters within their “collection,” and a deal was quickly signed.

The first project was the USAF F-117 Nighthawk™ Stealth series made of black PVD-plated steel to evoke the blacked out flavor of the famous airplane. Then came the F-16 Fighting Falcon™ series developed to herald the “workhorse” of the U.S. Air Force, and added in 2005 was the SR-71 Blackbird™ series, which celebrates the 1960s aviation icon that set records that still stand for flight speed and altitude.

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