If you're looking for the best tritium watches on the market today, this guide is for you:
A new feature available for real military watches is taking hold of the market.
This new feature is known as tritium.
Tritium gas allows your watch to become illuminated using a special type of gas causing a chemical reaction which makes it glow.
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 (at night etc).
Don't have time to read my whole review? In my opinion, the Luminox 3051 is the top timepiece in this category.
Well, they’re normal watches, but the tritium light technology feature makes all the differences. Often, you’ll see watches with a green glow or sometimes blue lit-up, 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 illumination that lasts up to 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.
Simple design for the cost. What’s more is that when you put tritium gas into glass tubes, you’ll find it has even more illumination. So, that’s what watchmakers did. As you’ll see when we get into the full review, they’re all watches with tritium glass tubes.
That 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 nine.
T100 Tritium Watches
There are two types of tritium timepieces, T25 and T100. The numbers refer to the number of millicuries in the 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 the life of the T25 watches.
In short, T100 tritium light watches will be the brightest options out there.
Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Men's Watch T100
Being scratch resistant with a sapphire crystal face and having a lighter weight with the rubber strap, this watch has some special features, too.
Including a chronograph feature, which is basically a built-in stopwatch, it also not only shows the date but also the days 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 automatic quartz which most people seem to prefer, especially if they are conscious with time accuracy.
Instead, it features automatic watch technology which works with your body. But if you don’t wear it often, you may prefer another option.
- A stylish black color ceramic bezel and black carbon dial with white accents
- Easy fold over clasp
- 80 hours of power reserve
- High price
- Automatic (you have to wear it often)
- Simple design for the cost
Isobrite ISO100 Ultra Bright T100 by Armourlite
Also with a two-year warranty and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, this dive 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.
- T100 makes this watch up to 4 times brighter than a Luminox or Traser
- 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...
Plus, quartz 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.
- Water resistant up to 660 ft.
- Swiss movement
- The busy exterior may be hard to read
- Polycarbonate material is light but looks cheap
Cheap Tritium Watches Under $200
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 H3 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, search no more.
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Made with military specifications in mind, this has all the bells and whistles. However, to be honest, it does not offer much more than telling you the time and illumination feature.
Made with an acrylic crystal glass that’s resistant to pressure changes, this product has different color options and shows you the date. Only having the ability to go underwater 60 meters can be a deal-breaker.
- Made in Switzerland with Swiss technology
- Meets strict military specifications
- Light in weight
- Only water resistant up to 60 meters
- Uncomfortable nylon strap
Seiko Men's SNZG15 Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch
This Seiko product is an automatic watch under $500. It’s automatic, which means that it doesn't need a battery but relies on your motion to power it up.
- 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 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 light-weight, this will be another fantastic choice for a tritium tactical watch.
- 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
- Uncomfortable nylon strap
Tritium Timepieces Under $500
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, it's easy to see that they’re very different from one another.
Armourlite Captain Field AL303 High Impact Glass Tritium Watch
It might look small and minimalist, but this classic military watch has exceptionally durable high impact glass crystal and double tempered stainless steel casing which makes it shatterproof and scratch proof.
- Solid Stainless-Steel Screw Pins
- Swiss movement
- Shatterproof Scratch Proof Crystal
What I like about this watch is it comes with a brown leather band, which fits snugly on my wrist.
And of course, this tactical watch uses Swiss MB Microtec tritium gas vials to 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!
It also features Swiss technology and date function so you can never go wrong with it when it comes to accuracy with time.
- 2-year warranty
- Shatterproof, scratch proof high impact crystal glass
- 10-year battery life
- Swiss quartz
- Simplistic design
- Band buckle issue
Luminox Atacama Field Day Black Carbon Fiber Dial Brown Leather Mens Watch 1925
Here’s one of the best products you can wear as both a field watch and with a nice suit.
- Series:Atacama Field Day/Date
- Case:Brushed black ion plated stainless steel
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 brands, you should have a good experience with this Luminox product.
- Swiss technology (accurate time reading)
- Stylish casual option
- Shows time, day of the week and date
- The leather strap can be uncomfortable, especially in warm weather
- Not necessarily military-grade
Top Tritium Divers Watches
When it comes to the tritium gas dive watch, probably the most important factor is water-resistance and how much pressure it can take.
Both of these tactical 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 products are well-trusted in the world of tritium watch brands and products, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at the specs.
- Luminous black watch featuring notched unidirectional bezel, contrast white markers, and date...
- 44 mm Polyurethane case with mineral dial window
- Swiss quartz movement with analog display
Claiming a light source of over 100 times that of its competitors, it seems great for deep dives where things get dark.
This dive watch has a great 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.
Apparently, it’s the watch of choice for Navy SEALS so you can’t really go wrong there.
- Swiss technology
- Trusted brand
- Busy design that could be hard to read
- No chronograph
- Polyurethane case and band may not last as long
Seiko Prospex Divers Solar Mens Black Silicone Watch SNE441
Another great tritium watch for diving, it has a stainless steel case, silicone band, and scratch-resistant hardlex crystal.
- Precise Solar Japan Quartz Movement (Caliber V157), 10-Month Power Reserve Once Fully Charged
- Stainless Steel Case, Black Silicone Strap Regular Connect Type Buckle Clasp
- Hardlex Mineral, Crystal Magnified Date Display, LumBrite Hands and Markers, One Way Rotating...
It’s a little bit expensive, but when it comes to something so water resistant, it could be worth the price if you’re an avid deep diver.
- Three-year warranty, one-year international warranty
- Solar quartz technology
- 10-month power reserve
- Quite pricey
- May not have all the features you’d like
- Stainless steel can be heavy
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Tritium Watch
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 best one for you.
Since these are all premium H3 watches, it’ll be all those other factors that help make the final decision.
Most often, the deciding factor will come down to the 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, color 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 in the market.
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 buying another watch just a year or two later, you’ll be kicking yourself for taking the cheapest option.
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.
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, like in a marathon, make sure to choose a watch with a chronograph feature. If you always forget the days of the week, maybe you need a watch that tells you more than 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.
Once you realize the reasons you want a tactical watch in the first place, 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 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, to make it easy, go with the brand.
Some of the top brands are Luminox, Smith & Wesson, Armourlite, and Seiko.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Frequently asked questions answered.
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.
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 restricted in tubes or tiny gas vials, which can only be used as markers.
How Safe is Tritium in Watches?
It is completely safe. The gas is radioactive, but it emits low energy levels especially when it decays. It’s just a type of hydrogen.
Plus, the fact that it is securely enclosed in glass tubes (which are pretty sturdy) makes it impossible for us to take DNA damages from this radioactive element.
In rare cases where you broke the glass tubes with tritium, know that the energy from tritium is extremely low that it can’t penetrate our skin. It’s gas and will just quickly disperse in the atmosphere.
When Did They Start Using Tritium in Watches?
They 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.
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. Just remember, you get what you pay for at this price point.
But, for the ultimate military-style tritium watch, it has to be the Luminox 3051. This watch has everything you need. From deep water-resistance and a lightweight feel to its Swiss quartz 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 the markers glow no matter how dark it is around you. Whether you’re camping with your family, on a marathon in the middle of the night, on a military mission, or diving with sharks, any of these H3 watches will stay glowing strong.
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.
Links, prices and images pulled from Amazon Product Advertising API. Last update on 2020-09-18.