This guide was updated on March 8th, 2019
A new feature available for military watches is taking hold of the market.
This new feature is known as tritium.
Tritium allows your watch to become illuminated using a special type of gas causing a chemical reaction.
It’s a way to light up your watch that won’t run out for decades, making it the perfect option for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors or finds themselves in low-light situations often.
Don't have time to read my whole review? In my opinion, the Luminox 3051 is the top timepiece in this category.
Table of Contents
Well, they’re normal watches, but the tritium light technology makes all the differences. Often, you’ll see watches with a lit-up dial, but many of those watches are using electrical energy that can wear out over time.
Tritium, on the other hand, takes much longer to decay and therefore seems to be a better light source when it comes to watches for low-light.
Tritium is a 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 light that lasts up to 20 years.
As a cold light source, tritium is automatic and doesn’t require an external energy source like a battery or solar power in order to operate.
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.
Simple design for the costWhat’s more is that when you put tritium into a glass tube, you’ll find it has even more illumination. So, that’s what watchmakers did. As you’ll see when we get into the full tritium watches review, they’re all watches with tritium glass tubes.
That is probably enough about the science behind it. Taking into consideration brightness, cost, and water resistance, here’s my review on the top nine tritium light watches.
There are two types of tritium watches, T25 and T100. The numbers refer to the number of millicuries in the tritium tubes within the watch.
When it comes to illuminated watches, T100 is going to be your best bet in terms of brightness.
You’ll see a noticeable difference when choosing T100 and they’ll last up to 50 years which is said to be double that of T25 tritium tube watches.
In short, T100 tritium light watches will be the brightest tritium watch options out there.
Being scratch resistant with a sapphire crystal face and having a lightweight feel with the black rubber strap, this watch has some special features, too.
Including a chronograph, which is basically a built-in stopwatch, it also not only shows the date but also the day of the week, too.
Both of which are features that many other styles don’t have. Water resistant up to 100 meters with a two-year warranty, it’ll do the job well.
The only thing is, it’s really expensive. It also doesn’t have quartz movement which most people seem to prefer.
Instead, it features automatic movement which works with your body. But if you don’t wear it every day, you may prefer another option.
Also with a two-year warranty and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, this watch is different in that it’s made of a polycarbonate material, has a silicone strap, and adds an extra 100 meters to its water resistance.
Plus, quartz movement versus automatic could be a game-changer for you.
It should also be mentioned that Armourlite is a well-known watch brand. Sometimes, having a brand you can trust will make all the difference.
As the name suggests, this is perfect for the businessman who’s also sporty.
Because it’s stylish enough to wear to the office while also durable for your evening soccer game with the pals, its stainless-steel case and band really set this watch apart.
To be honest, men's tritium light watches are hardly ever this good-looking.
So, if you’re going for looks over everything, this is the one you should consider buying.
The following tritium light watches are going to be your most affordable options.
But beware, you usually get what you pay for in this category. But still, I think these are some great options for those who are on a budget. And let’s be real, most of us want to save money.
Both of these cheaper tritium watches have a nylon strap that seems uncomfortable, but you can always wear it on the outside of your sleeve.
If you’re in the market for a true tritium military watch, look no further.
Made with military specifications in mind, this has all the bells and whistles. However, to be honest, it does not offer much more.
Made with an acrylic crystal that’s resistant to pressure changes, it has different color options and shows you the date. Only having the ability to go underwater 60 meters can be a deal-breaker.
Unlike the quartz movement you’re getting with the Marathon brand watch, this Seiko is an automatic watch under $500. It’s up to you what you prefer.
But, where this watch comes out ahead is if you see any diving in your future. Customers like it because it’s water resistant up to 100 meters.
Showing both the date and day of the week and being extremely lightweight, this will be another fantastic choice for a tritium tactical watch.
Now, we’re jumping up in cost a little bit, and you can really see the difference.
With more features and higher quality materials, both these watches are water resistant up to 200 meters.
However, you’ll see that they’re very different from one another.
Pretty much your classic military watch, this product shows the date and has a durable, rubber band.
It is made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and is water resistant up to 200 meters.
Plus, this military tritium watch was designed by German Special Forces.
Here’s another one you can wear as both a field watch and with a nice suit.
The scratch resistant sapphire crystal, stainless steel case, and the leather strap all work together to create a good-looking, yet very functional watch.
The watch itself is water resistant up to 200 meters, but it’s unclear whether the leather strap is good for diving
But, since it’s made by one of the most well-known tritium watch brands, you should have a good experience with this Luminox product.
When it comes to tritium dive watches, probably the most important factor is water resistance and how much pressure it can take.
Both of these watches can reach depths of up to 200 meters, and anything less won’t be ideal if you’re a true diver.
As previously mentioned, Luminox is well-trusted in the world of tritium watch brands, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at the specs.
Claiming a light source of over 100 times that of its competitors, it seems great for deep dives where things get dark.
This black watch has great contrast with its white numbers on the dial. For some people, it can have a little too much going on.
Apparently, it’s the watch of choice for Navy SEALS so you can’t really go wrong there.
Another great tritium watch for diving, it has a stainless steel case, black silicone band, and scratch-resistant hardlex crystal.
It’s a little bit expensive, but when it comes to something so water resistant, it could be worth the cost if you’re an avid diver.
So, now that you know more about the specifications of each watch along with some of their pros and cons, it’s time to choose the one for you.
Since these are all premium tritium watches, it’ll be all those other factors that help make the final decision.
Most often, the deciding factor will come down to price, so we’ll start there. You may also be tempted to trust a brand’s reputation at face value, which is fair enough but shouldn’t be your only consideration. You’ll want to think about style and features, too.
Let’s dive a little bit deeper into each of these factors to make sure you’re choosing the best tritium watch.
The first thing you need to do is stay within your budget. To be frank, none of these watches are particularly cheap.
That said, you do get a lot of amazing features by spending the extra cash. As we’ve already mentioned and something you’ve probably heard a million times, you get what you pay for. This situation isn’t any different.
Sure, right out of the box you might think you got a steal. When you’re looking to buy another watch just a year or two later, you’ll be kicking yourself for taking the cheapest option.
Most tritium watches 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.
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’re constantly in need of a stopwatch, make sure to choose a watch with a chronograph. If you always forget what day it is, maybe you need a watch that tells you more than the date.
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.
Once you realize the reasons you want a tritium watch in the first place, your decision will become a whole lot clearer.
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 begin to trust that any additional products they make will also be of high quality.
While this is often true, it’s important to do your own research in addition to just having an affinity for a certain name. But if you’ve narrowed it down and the choice is between a top brand and a name you’ve never heard of, go with the brand.
Some of the top brands in tritium watches are Luminox, Smith & Wesson, Armourlite, and Seiko.
From this list, if you just want the bare minimum that’ll give you what you need without any fancy extras, then the Seiko 5 SNZG15 is going to be the one for you. At just over $100, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal for a tritium watch. Just remember, you get what you pay for at this price point.
If you love the idea of a versatile tritium watch that can function in the business-setting and the outdoors, the best option would be the completely stainless steel YELANG V1210. It is really not that expensive either. With its quartz movement and sleek design, it’s really an overall showstopper.
But, for the ultimate military-style tritium watch, it has to be the Luminox 3051. This watch has everything you need in a tritium watch. From deep water resistance and a lightweight feel to its Swiss quartz movement for accurate timekeeping and production by a trusted brand. You really can’t go wrong with this fully-loaded timepiece.
The best thing about all of these tritium watches is that you’ll be able to see them no matter how dark it is around you. Whether you’re camping with your family, on a military mission, or diving with sharks, any of these tritium watches will stay glowing strong.
At the end of the day, only you will know which watch will be best for you. But after seeing the different styles, prices, and features that come with tritium watches, you should be able to spot which one is your perfect match.
Links, prices and images pulled from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2019-03-26.