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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Radium Dials

  • HSNY at the General Society Library 20 West 44th Street New York, NY, 10036 United States (map)

Kathleen McGivney, COO, RedBar Group and Director of Operations, Horological Society of New York

Video recordings of meetings are available to HSNY members.

Radioluminescence, the process by which light is produced by bombarding a reactive material with ionizing radiation, was widely used as the demand for watches that were readable at night grew. At the November 2017 meeting of the Horological Society of New York, Kathleen McGivney will discuss the history of luminescence in watches and instrument dials. In her talk, McGivney will visit the beginning of the use of radioactive material in watch and instrument dials, the reason for the use of radium as the specific material to achieve that goal, the context of the prevailing wisdom of the day of the safety of radium, and how and why watch manufacturers moved on to other materials to achieve luminescence. McGivney will also discuss the implications of radium dials that still retain some radioactivity to collectors and watchmakers who handle them.

Kathleen McGivney

Kathleen McGivney

About Kathleen McGivney
Kathleen McGivney is a watch collector and consultant based in New York City. She is passionate about watch collecting and fostering the rapidly growing community of horology enthusiasts worldwide. She manages operations, events, and charitable giving for RedBar Group and is also the Director of Operations for the Horological Society of New York.

Photography by Atom Moore