8 Best Tritium Watches for Men Reviewed

NanaDC watch reviews

We've been fans of tritium watches since we were kids so this post was a joy to write, especially since we have money now to actually buy one! If you're looking for the best tritium watches on the market today, this guide is for you.

Our favorite feature for non-nonsense military watches is what this list is all about.

This no-nonsense feature is called tritium.

tritium radiation symbol black and white

No need for sunlight to charge and no need to press a button for light--talk about ultimate reliability. Tritium gas illuminates your watch using a special type of gas undergoing a constant chemical reaction which makes the dials and hands glow perpetually. It's trendy in tactical circles (especially pistol sights), but it’s timeless and very functional.

Tritium illumination is a Swiss invention of course (made even better by American companies recently) and is a badass way to light up your watch and a method that won’t run or stop on you for decades, making it the perfect option if you spend a lot of time outdoors or yourself in low-light situations on the reg. Or if you just want the peace of mind.

Watch Preview
Overall Favorite
Luminox Original Navy SEAL XS.3051.F Mens Watch 44mm - Military Dive Watch in Black Date Function...
Best With Automatic Movement
MARATHON 41mm Diver's Automatic (GSAR) Swiss Made Military Issue Milspec Watch with Tritium...
Reason
Best overall tritium watch choice
Officially endorsed by multiple governments
Case Diameter
44 millimeters
41 millimeters
Water Resistance
660 feet
30 ATM
Customer Rating
Overall Favorite
Watch Preview
Luminox Original Navy SEAL XS.3051.F Mens Watch 44mm - Military Dive Watch in Black Date Function...
Reason
Best overall tritium watch choice
Case Diameter
44 millimeters
Water Resistance
660 feet
Customer Rating
More Details
Best With Automatic Movement
Watch Preview
MARATHON 41mm Diver's Automatic (GSAR) Swiss Made Military Issue Milspec Watch with Tritium...
Reason
Officially endorsed by multiple governments
Case Diameter
41 millimeters
Water Resistance
30 ATM
Customer Rating
More Details

Don't have time to read this long in-depth review? In my opinion, the Luminox 3051 is the most iconic and the top timepiece in this category. It’s a classic model of it’s class (think Rolex Submarine) and the first piece of gear that flashes in my mind when I think of the word “tritium”.

These are all normal watches in this list, but the tritium light/lume technology feature makes all the difference. Often, you’ll see watches lit-up with a green glow or sometimes blue, but they’re using lume with a phosphorescent substance that goes yellow over the years. Another type such as Indiglo use electrical energy that drain your battery over time.

Tritium, on the other hand, looks the same for decades and retains its visibility continually before it decays and therefore seems to be a better light source when it comes to watches for low-light.

Tritium gas in a tube
Tritium gas glowing in a tube

Tritium is a slightly radioactive gas that glows in the dark. It’s an isotope of hydrogen that emits electrons. Once those electrons connect with phosphorus, it produces a fluorescent illumination with a lifespan of over 20 years.

As a cold light source, tritium gas is automatic and doesn’t require an external energy source like a battery or solar power in order to operate and glow.

The luminescent gas was first discovered by Ernst Rutherford, Paul Hartek, and ML Oliphant in 1934. Before it was used in tritium dial watches, it was manufactured for industrial purposes and was a relatively simple design for the cost.

When you condense tritium gas into glass tubes, you can extract even more illumination. So, that’s what watchmakers did. As you’ll see when we get into the full review, these are all watches with tritium glass tubes.

OK this is probably enough about the science behind it. Taking into consideration brightness, glow, cost, and resistance of water, here’s my review on the top eight.

T100 Tritium Watches

Tritium timepieces are classified into two types: T25 and T100. The numbers represent the number of millicuries in the watch's tubes. (And don't be alarmed by the word curies; you won't get cancer or be in any danger from these minute amounts of tritium.)

When it comes to illuminated watches, T100 is your best bet in terms of brightness.

When you choose T100, you'll notice a noticeable difference, and they'll last up to 50 years, which is said to be double the life of T25 watches.

In short, T100 tritium light watches will be the brightest options available.

Isobrite ISO3011 MIL24 II 24-Hour Military-Time T100 Tritium Watch

Brightest of the bunch, Swiss-made and tough as nails. One of our favorite adventure watches currently. Well worth the price in our opinion.

Isobrite ISO3011 MIL24 II 24-Hour Military-Time T100 Tritium Illuminated Watch
  • 34 x T100 tritium markers by trigalight
  • Military-type 24-hour display, date display, 12-hour inner dial
  • Unidirectional ratcheting diver bezel with a tritium elapsed minute marker

The MIL24 II for 2022 has various improvements over the original design, including easier-to-read hands and brighter tritium markings.

This one-of-a-kind Swiss-made timepiece brilliantly displays 24-hour military time on the dial's outer perimeter and 12-hour time in the center. To make the 24-hour military time easier to read, blue tritium markers indicate odd-numbered hours, green tritium markers represent even-numbered hours, and yellow tritium markers designate critical places every 5 minutes around both displays.

34 very bright T100 tritium indicators give great legibility in low light environments without the need for batteries or recharge from sunshine or artificial light sources. Great form AND function.

A Swiss Ronda 515 movement will continue ticking for decades without degradation in accuracy. Lightweight carbon fiber reinforced polymer construction and precise Swiss waterproofing gives us peace of mind that the 200 meter rated depth is legitimate.

BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS
  • Sapphire crystal with antireflective coating
  • Swiss reliability and durability
  • Multicolored T100 tritium markers
  • 24 hour markers, and gray hands are very legible
  • A bit pricey, although deals can be had regularly (sometimes found under $600 on Amazon or Jomashop)
  • Large dial but it wears relatively small

NanaDC Badass Rating: 5/5

  • Big. Bold. John Wick would like it for the end of the night. Probably the most badass looking watch on our site. Sure a Rolex Submariner all blacked-out gets a 5/5 score too, but that runs north of $20k these days and honestly 99% of those who buy it won’t ever wear it outside their fancy office. This is one of the coolest watches under $1000.

NanaDC Sauve Rating: 0/5

  • Not the point. Get a Daniel Wellington if you want a sleek and blingy rose gold watch. If you want black on black and tritium overload though, you know what to buy!

Watch specifications:

  • Case diameter: 47 millimeters
  • Band/strap & lug width: 22 millimeters
  • Model number: ISO3011
  • Year introduced: 2020

Similar watches for your research: Isobrite Afterburner, Isobrite Squardron Series

Isobrite ISO303 Valor Series Black/Yellow T100 Tritium Watch

You get a two-year warranty, beautiful scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a statement-making yellow dial. This dive watch is made of a light polycarbonate material, has a silicone strap, and boasts a 200 meters of water-resistance.

Isobrite ISO303 Valor Series Black/Yellow T100 Tritium Watch
11 Customer Reviews
Isobrite ISO303 Valor Series Black/Yellow T100 Tritium Watch
  • T100 makes this watch up to 4 times brighter than T25 watches
  • T100 illumination lasts up to 50 years, which is double the life of a standard T25 tritium watch
  • T100 represents the latest technology in tritium watches and makes seeing the time in the dark much...

Furthermore, if you've ever had a bad experience with a mechanical movement, quartz versus automatic could be a game changer for you.

Armourlite is a well-known watch manufacturer. Having a brand you can rely on can make all the difference. We are not God, but we can predict that neither the lume nor the Swiss movement will disappoint you here

BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS
  • Water resistant up to 200m
  • Swiss movement
  • Epic tritium T100 illumination is 4x brighter than T25
  • Sapphire crystal

  • The busy exterior may be hard to read
  • Expensive
  • Polycarbonate material is light but looks fragile (even though it isn’t)

NanaDC Badass Rating: 4/5

  • This watch gives the Luminox Navy Seal watch a real run for it’s money. Personal preference but we kind of like the look of this model more. Either way, both are badass watches to be sure. Note that this watch is available in TAN COLOR as well!

NanaDC Sauve Rating: 1/5

  • Not the point. Its a bit slicker than some of the Luminox offerings because the bezel is less chunky and the tritium markers on the dial are in line with the hands (versus being perpendicular to the outside diameter)

Watch specifications:

  • Case diameter: 39.5 millimeters
  • Band/strap & lug width: 20 millimeters
  • Model number: ISO350
  • Year introduced: 2017

Similar watches for your research: 

Isobrite ISO353 Blue, Isobrite Valor Series ISO403, Luminox Navy Seal

Cheap Tritium Watches Under $200

The tritium light watches listed below are of the more affordable category.

There's a saying that you get what you pay for. However, I believe these are excellent choices for those on a tight budget. Let's face it: most of us want to save money.

These less expensive H3 watches will deliver regardless of price

Seiko Men's SNZG15 Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch

This Seiko product is affordable but well-equipped. Seiko never lets us down! It’s also automatic, which adds a level of sophistication not found on quartz watches and it doesn't need a battery only your body’s motion to power it up.

SEIKO Men's SNZG15 SEIKO 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch with Nylon Strap
  • Round watch featuring logoed dial with Arabic numeral indices, luminous hands, and day/date window...
  • 42 mm stainless steel case with hardlex dial window
  • Automatic self-wind movement with analog display

But, where this dive watch comes out ahead is if you see any diving or water-related activities in your future. Customers like it because it’s water resistant up to 100 meters (that’s the minimum we like to see outdoor watches rated to)

Showing both the date and day of the week and being extremely light-weight, this will be another fantastic choice for a tritium tactical watch.

BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS
  • Shows the hours, day of the week and date
  • Lightweight, 2.72 ounces
  • Water resistant up to 100 meters
  • Automatic (you have to wear it often)
  • Only one color option
  • Nylon NATO-style strap can be uncomfortable if not used to it

NanaDC Badass Rating: 3/5

  • Automatic movement and tritium lume from a reliability Japanese brand for around $200?! Sign me up! This thing is clean and badass in a retro military way, we love it. The nylon stap is the perfect touch as a stainless bracelet would make it look too “proper” and dressy.

NanaDC Sauve Rating: 1/5

  • It’s got a nylon strap, what did you expect us to rate it? Don’t wear this to your next wedding.. However, definitely wear it on your honeymoon when you go scuba diving or other outdoor activities!

Watch specifications:

  • Case diameter: 42 millimeters
  • Band/strap & lug width: 22 millimeters
  • Model number: SNZG15
  • Year introduced: 2018

Similar watches for your research: Seiko snzg13, Seiko snzg15j1, Seiko snk809

Tritium Timepieces Under $500

Now, we're going up in prices bit here, but I think you'll be able to tell the difference.

Both of these watches are slick and and have more features and better materials than the $200 offerings.

Let's see how different they are from each other and why they made our list.

Armourlite AL302 Field Series Tritium Watch (T25 Tritium lume)

It might look small and minimalist, but this classic military watch is mighty and has exceptionally durable high impact glass crystal and double tempered stainless steel casing which makes it shatterproof and scratch proof.

Armourlite AL302 Field Series Tritium Watch with Metal Band
6 Customer Reviews
Armourlite AL302 Field Series Tritium Watch with Metal Band
  • Solid Stainless Steel Case
  • Armourglass Crystal
  • T25 Tritium Markers

What I like about this watch is it comes with a nice Omega-style stainless steel band, and those I know fit snugly on my wrist without pinching or pulling out any hairs.

Also sincewe’re talking about gaseous tritium light sources, this tactical watch uses Swiss MB Microtec tritium gas vials on its markers to ensure longer illumination for days in the dark night without the need for a battery. It's so bright you can even still see the light through your sheets at night!

Swiss technology and with date function -- you can never go wrong with this when it comes to functional accuracy with time.

BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS
  • 2-year warranty
  • Shatterproof, scratch proof high impact crystal glass
  • 10-year battery life
  • Swiss quartz
  • Simplistic design
  • Bracelet is a pretty close copy of Omega's setup

NanaDC Badass Rating: 3/5

  • Badass in a retro way! We don’t always want to wear black plastic watches, sometimes the smooth feel of stainless against your skin combined with military-grade tech is what you want. Will wear this when I take my stainless Kimber 1911 to the range!

NanaDC Sauve Rating: 4/5

  • Out of the watches on this list, this is the slickest and classiest for sure. The red second hand and Armourlite logo offers a hint that this isn’t your granddaddy's watch!

Watch specifications:

  • Case diameter: 43 millimeters
  • Band/strap & lug width: 22 millimeters
  • Model number: AL302
  • Year introduced: 2011

Similar watches for your research: Armourlite Officer series AL825,  Armourlite Field Series AL133, Armourlite Field Series AL142

Luminox Atacama Adventurer Field XL.1767 Mens Watch

Here’s one of the best that you can wear as both a field watch and as a casual everyday carry piece. We absolutely love the olive green color.

Luminox Atacama Adventurer Field XL.1767 Mens Watch 42mm - Military Watch in Green Date Function...
3 Customer Reviews
Luminox Atacama Adventurer Field XL.1767 Mens Watch 42mm - Military Watch in Green Date Function...
  • The Atacama Field series, inspired by one of the driest places in the world - the Atacama desert in...
  • Technical Specifications: 200 meters / 660 feet / 20 ATM water resistant, Extremely robust sapphire...
  • Lighting Technology: Green and orange Luminox Light Technology on dial ring and minute and hour...

The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, stainless steel case, and the nylon strap all work together to create an epic-looking, yet very functional watch.

The watch itself is water resistant up to 200 meters, the tritium will constantly glow for 25 years and the Swiss quartz movement will also likely last 25 years. You can’t go wrong with this if you’ve been eying a green/brown watch.

Also, it’s made by one of the most well-known brands in the space so you should have a rewarding experience with this Luminox product.

BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS
  • Swiss technology (accurate time reading)
  • Stylish casual option
  • Olive green color is unique without being too tacticool
  • The nylon strap can be uncomfortable for some, but I like it personally
  • There’s a few Reddit comments that suggest the lume markers can fall off, but most Redditors are idiots so take it with a grain of salt.. If you bang around a watch enough things will break, regardless of who made it.

NanaDC Badass Rating: 4/5

  • Badass and also has plenty of retro charm! You’ll get compliments from both guys and girls on this one, which is rare. My Omega Planet Ocean gets less compliments than this and it was $5000!

NanaDC Sauve Rating: 4/5

  • I would never have thought a green nylon strap watch could be sauve, but I could see James Bond wearing this while on a mission (Assuming of course that didn’t have Omega as their watch sponsor). Just don’t wear it with any “urban” style clothes or you’ll kill the vibe. This is a fun watch for serious guys.

Watch specifications:

  • Case diameter: 42 millimeters
  • Band/strap & lug width: 22 millimeters
  • Model number: XL.1767
  • Year introduced: 2019

Similar watches for your research: 

Luminox Atacama Field AUTO 1902, Luminox P-38 Lightening 9520, Luminox 1900 Series

Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Men's Watch T100

Handsome looking piece! Being scratch resistant with a sapphire crystal face and having a lighter weight with the leather strap, this watch has some special features that we dig.

Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Men's Watch T100.430.37.201.00
36 Customer Reviews
Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Men's Watch T100.430.37.201.00
  • Featuring a Black Band, Black PVD Case, Scratch Resistant Sapphire Crystal

The PRS 516 has a day of the week and date display at the standard 3 o'clock position, and is powered by an ETA Caliber 80.121 automatic movement with an 80-hour power reserve. The water resistance is 100 meters.

This Tissot has round case shape with a case size of 42 mm and a thickness of 12.9 mm, and a black rubber strap with a deployment clasp that measures 20 mm wide. This is a Tissot so it’s Swiss Made of course and is suitable for casual wear.

BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS
  • A stylish black color ceramic bezel and black carbon dial with white accents
  • Easy fold over clasp
  • 80 hours of power reserve
  • Swiss-made
  • Automatic (you need to wear it often to keep it charged)
  • Simple design for the cost

NanaDC Badass Rating: 3/5

  • This Tissot watch looks great, keeps accurate time, and the price is right. The blue dial give it some oomph, otherwise we’d only rate it a ⅖. The blue and automatic movement give it a solid ⅗ badass score.

NanaDC Sauve Rating: 3/5

  • Based on third party reviews we saw, men have gotten compliments on this and say it's comfortable to wear and easy to take off and put on. The Tissot name adds a class and cachet that is hard to find at this price so we give it a solid ⅗.

Watch specifications:

  • Case diameter: 42 millimeters
  • Band/strap & lug width: 20 millimeters
  • Model number: T1004303720100 
  • Year introduced: 2016

Similar watches for your research: Tissot 516 Powermatic 80, Tissot 516 chronograph

Top Tritium Divers Watches

There are a few key features to look for in a tritium gas dive watch, but besides the lume the water resistance and pressure resistance are probably at the top of the list.

If you're a serious scuba diver, you need a watch like either of these tactical models, which can withstand depths of up to 200 meters.

Luminox Men's 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Colormark Watch

This model is officially licensed by the United States Department of the Navy and you really can’t go wrong here, especially since you can typically get it for under $350 online. In the world of tritium watch brands and products, the specs and track record on this Luminox are a no-brainer for the price.

On Sale
Luminox Original Navy SEAL XS.3051.F Mens Watch 44mm - Military Dive Watch in Black Date Function...
801 Customer Reviews
Luminox Original Navy SEAL XS.3051.F Mens Watch 44mm - Military Dive Watch in Black Date Function...
  • Officially licensed by the United States Department of the Navy, the Navy SEAL series was developed...
  • Technical Specifications: 200 meters / 660 feet / 20 ATM water resistant, Extremely robust hardened...
  • Lighting Technology: Blue & green Luminox Light Technology on dial ring and second, minute and hour...

Claiming a light source of over 100 times that of its competitors, it seems great for deep sea dives where things get dark.

This dive watch has EPIC contrast with its white numbers on the face of the watch, which makes it easier to read time in the dark. For some people, it can have a little too much going on. Those peeps can buy a Seiko... We’ll take it though!

Apparently, it’s the watch of choice for Navy SEALS so you can’t really go wrong there.

BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS
  • Swiss technology
  • Trusted brand
  • Lightweight
  • Busy design (but that’s the point). If you really want, you can get a blacked-out version of this same watch
  • No chronograph
  • Polyurethane case and band may not last as long

NanaDC Badass Rating: 5/5

  • A very easy 5/5 rating. It’s the epitome of badass. The Navy Seals logo on the caseback alone is worth the price of admission. We love showing our pride and respect for the most elite special forces unit in the world, as well as knowing the watch can take an absolute beating and not skip a beat. Whether I’m out mountain biking in the dirt and mud or shooting a high-recoil rifle at the range, I like to take this bad boy with me.

NanaDC Sauve Rating: 0/5

  • Nope. 

Watch specifications:

  • Case diameter: 44 millimeters
  • Band/strap & lug width: 23 millimeters ( an odd size FYI but I’m sure the SEALs have a reason)
  • Model number: XS.3051.F
  • Year introduced: 2005

Similar watches for your research: Luminox 3050, Luminox colormark 3050 series, Luminox 3051 blackout

Marathon GSAR Automatic Government Model Watch

The awesome-looking Marathon GSAR is a watch purpose-designed for military personnel, and endorsed by the Canadian and US governments (no hyperbole). "GSAR" stands for "Government Search and Rescue" and refers to the high-risk tactical tasks of the military troops who are given these watches.

Quick overview: it’s made of 316L stainless steel, has a screw-down crown, and is water resistant up to 30 ATM (or 300 meters) making it the deepest-diving watch on our list. High-end MaraGloTM tritium gas tubes are used for luminescence in low light conditions and it has an Swiss Marathon M2 movement (based off the ETA 2824-A2 automatic and Sellita SW200 movement which is tough as nails). Both the steel bracelet and the vulcanized rubber strap options are great choices.

MARATHON 41mm Diver's Automatic (GSAR) Swiss Made Military Issue Milspec Watch with Tritium...
33 Customer Reviews
MARATHON 41mm Diver's Automatic (GSAR) Swiss Made Military Issue Milspec Watch with Tritium...
  • COLLOQUIAL NAME: Government Search and Rescue (GSAR) - NSN: 6645-21-588-0133
  • MOVEMENT: Self-winding automatic 26 Jewel Marathon M2 Movement
  • CASE: 316L Stainless Steel - SUBMERSIBILITY: 30ATM

The GSAR's strength lies in its robust construction (even the movement has a steel (Incabloc) shock-absorbing system. I'm confident that this timepiece can survive nearly any outdoor challenge, and it does so while maintaining a refined appearance on the wrist.

BENEFITS
DRAWBACKS
  • Robust, precise (hat-tip to Chris for the John Wick inspired description)
  • Comfortable case and strap
  • Very bright tritium tubes

  • The watch is not small
  • Not a low-cost watch, but a worthy splurge
  • Hour and minute hand not very differentiated

NanaDC Badass Rating: 5/5

  • GarandThumb had a video about EDC watches where he introduced many to the Marathon brand. He focused his attention on a battered, damaged, and magnificent Marathon TSAR (the quartz brother of the GSAR). Many people noticed it and fell in love with its no-nonsense utilitarian appearance. All of the TAGs and Hamiltons you’ve been eyeing won’t hold your attention much after seeing this military-issue dive/tool watch in real life.

NanaDC Sauve Rating: 3/5

  • Government markings and hefty stainless steel don’t a dress watch make. However if this is your first “expensive” watch you can feel good knowing it’s automatic, swiss, and that you can wear the GSAR with just about anything and anywhere. It’s a handsome watch, damn sure about that.

Watch specifications:

  • Case diameter: 41millimeters
  • Band/strap & lug width: 20 millimeters
  • Model number: WW194006-US
  • Year introduced: 2006

Similar watches for your research: Marathon GSAR Arctic edition, Marathon Tsar, 

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Tritium Watch

So, now that you've learned more about the characteristics of each watch, as well as some of its advantages and disadvantages, it's time to pick the ideal one for you.

Because these are all premium H3 watches, all of the other variables will play a role in making the final decision.

The price is frequently the deciding element, so we'll start there. You may also be inclined to take a brand's reputation at face value, which is understandable but should not be your sole factor. You should also consider style, color, and features.

Let's take a closer look at each of these factors to ensure you're getting the optimal tritium watch on the market for your needs

Price

The first thing you must do is stick to your budget. To be honest, none of these timepieces are crazy cheap or crazy expensive, they’re in a nice middle ground.

With anything in life, investing the extra money usually gets you some pretty badass features. Certainly with watches you get what you pay for.

None of these watches are bad or “cheap” though, even the ones around $200. Meaning they won’t break or let you down. Buttt, if you spend a little more you might enjoy your watch more and not feel like everyone’s got something better. That’s our choice, and we’d budget $500 or so if you’re in the market.

Style

Most watches within this category are going to be rugged and military-style watches. In fact, those are the styles I prefer. But I’m not everyone. Some people have office jobs or they want to wear the same watch in the field as they do when they go out to dinner with their wife.

It’s essential that you decide what you’re really looking for in a watch. Do you want a rubber or silicone strap that might clash with a suit? Or would a leather band seem totally out of place in the middle of training or going for a dive?

Thinking about how you plan to wear your watch will help decide on the style that fits. At any rate, the craftsmanship of these watches is exquisite, with stunning details and finishes that make them a true masterpiece from a tactical perspective.

Features

When talking features, again, you’ll want to really consider what activities you participate in most. Here are a few things to think about before making a purchase.

If you regularly need a stopwatch (like if you’re timing your steaks on the grill or your kid’s laps around the track), make sure to choose a watch with a chronograph feature. If you need to know the date without pulling out your phone, maybe you need a watch that tells you the date and time.

If you spend most of your time in a suit and tie, a bulky, military-style watch might be the wrong choice.

If you’re a diver, your watch needs to be water resistant up to at least 200 meters and leather ain’t very salt-water friendly.

Once you realize the limitations and scope of your “missions” for your tactical watch, your decision will become a whole lot clearer.

Tritium Watches and Their Brand Names

If you’re like most people, you’re more likely to buy something when you recognize the brand name. And there’s a reason for that. When a brand continues to make quality products, you learn to trust that any additional products they make will also be of high quality.

This is true of the Swiss watch market in general, although some are better than others. If you’ve narrowed it down and the choice is between a top brand and a name you’ve never heard of, to make it easy, we’d say go with the brand. It’s better psychologically as well.

Some of the top brands are Luminox, Marathon, Armourlite, Seiko, Smith & Wesson and Traser.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently asked questions answered here:

How is tritium used in watches?

For watches, tritium gas encased in glass tubes is a contemporary method of lighting equipment and goods when quick and independent reading of the time is required. The GTLS (Gaseous Tritium Light Sources) technology is based on the concept of radiation-induced luminescence and replaces luminous radioactive paints and its associated risks such as particle erasure and heavy isotope consumption.

Enclosure of tritium in glass is a challenging microtechnology procedure that must be carried out in controlled environments owing to the handling of open sources. Tritium is stored and transported in licensed B(U)-containers from heavy water reactor facilities, and radioactive Tritium waste disposal must comply with national and international transport and waste management rules. [1]

How Long Does Tritium in Watches Last?

It lasts for about 12.32 years on average.

Why Don't High-End Watches Use Tritium?

High-end watches don’t use it for illumination since they are currently using a non-radioactive and brighter alternative for illumination known as SuperLuminova or LumiNova.

The bottom line is since SuperLuminova doesn’t need to be enclosed in tubes unlike tritium, they can use it freely to match their designs. For example, it can be in the shape of numbers and curves. Tritium fades over time and is restricted to cylindrical tubes or tiny gas vials, which can only be used as markers with a certain shape.

How Safe is Tritium in Watches?

It is completely safe. The gas is radioactive, but it emits low energy levels especially when it decays [2]. It’s just a type of hydrogen.

Plus, the fact that it is securely enclosed in glass tubes (which are pretty sturdy unless you take the watch apart and chew on the tritium vials (cue Jarhead joke) makes it impossible for us to acquire damage to our precious DNA from this radioactive element…

In rare cases where you broke the glass tubes with tritium, know that the very weak beta light radiation energy from tritium can’t penetrate our skin. It’s gas and will just quickly disperse in the atmosphere.

When Did They Start Using Tritium in Watches?

Watchmakers started using it in watches in the year the 1960s after discovering how radium can be detrimental to the health of those people applying the radioactive paint to the watches.

Tritium has become a safer alternative for illumination since it has an extremely low energy level that it could not penetrate the skin.

Verdict

From this list, if you just want the bare minimum badassery without any fancy extras, then the Armourlite AL302 is going to be the one for you. At just over $300, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal. Just remember, you get what you pay for at this price point.

But, for the ultimate military tritium watch, it has to be the Marathon GSAR . It doesn’t just look the best, this watch literally has everything you need. It is legit military issue for the US and Canada, has tritium, 300m water resistance and an automatic Swiss movement for the most acurate timekeeping, and is in production by a trusted brand. 

The best thing about all of these tritium watches is that you’ll be able to see the markers glow bright like your favorite trigalight gunsight, no matter how dark or scary the night is. Whether you’re camping with your family, on a nighttime endurance auto race, on a military mission, or diving with sharks, any of these H3 watches will glow strong on your wrist.

Tritium watches are not really a luxury or fashionable gift idea, but more of a functional one! These watches don't exude sophistication but they do express modernity to the max. Overall, tritium watches are a great choice for those who appreciate style and functionality in equal measure.

In the end, only you will know which watch will be best for you. But after seeing the different product styles, prices, and features that come with the watches, you should be able to spot which one is your perfect match.

References:

  1. Amme, Marcus, and Roger Siegenthaler. "Gaseous Tritium Light Sources in armament and watches industries." StrahlenschutzPraxis (Koeln) 21.3 (2015): 38-41.
  2.  Andreev, V. M., et al. "Tritium-powered betacells based on Al/sub x/Ga/sub 1-x/As." Conference Record of the Twenty-Eighth IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference-2000 (Cat. No. 00CH37036). IEEE, 2000.

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