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Thread: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

  1. #1
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Just wondering about this as i ponder my next watch purchase. SO far here is what i am tied on at the watch discussion:

    Should i get the Swiss Army Renegade w/ compass (Tritium paint - everywhere)
    Or should i get the Luminox Navy Seal Watch (Tritium gas filled vials)

    I don't want this to turn into a watch dicussion because then this would belong in the watch forum. So my question is this:

    Is Tritium paint self-illuminating like "Traser" vials?
    ...I'll start the discussion with that and ask more questions later.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Streak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Tritium (H3) is a gas so I am not sure that one can have a paint containing tritium. The paints normally contain other compounds that need to be charged using sunlight.
    The tritium is sealed in a glas vial and radiates causing the coating inside the vial to glow. It will continue to do this for about 15 years.
    I have a Traser watch with this technology and I am very pleased with its performance.
    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Get the LumiNox! I've had mine for 10 years ... it's still bright and water-tight (to 80' on last dive). Just be especially careful on battery changes to make sure it's resealed properly and it'll last.

    One of these days the tritium *will* deplete and not illuminate, but that'll be a long time yet. Remember that it's a radioactive material which degrades by half-lifes ... so after about 15 years it will be half as bright as when new ... 15 more years 1/4 as bright as new, etc. After 30 years, I'd bet the LumiNox's tritium vials will be about as luminous as the glow-in-the-dark paint used on other watches.

    [edit - I just found out tritium vials have a useful life in excess of 10-20 years, and a half life of 12]

    Hope this helps.

    Mark

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    I recently looked at a lot of different watches and ended up with the Luminox Titanium Navy Seal Watch. I couldn't be happier, and this thing really glows.
    The only bad thing is it comes with an anti-reflective coating which wears off. I went ahead and buffed it all away so the sapphire crystal looks perfect again.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Get the Luminox. I have had one (i think that it is the Captains watch)for almost 7 years now and it is BRIGHT still. I love it. It was not cheap but it was well worth the money. The tritium vials are FAR superior to the paint.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    The tritium paint is NOT self luminous. I think it's just a marketing scam. I bought one and it was no better than my cheapo Timex with old piss poor GITD material. If they at least had used the new alien skin stuff it might be useful. The watch was returned with a full refund.

    BTW I have a friend that has the Luminox plastic Navy seal watch and he has had nothing but problems. His second one (first one the case broke) filled up with water after a swim in the pool. They did replace his first one though. he hasn't tried yet with the second.

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    Flashaholic* Wingerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Not sure which one he had, but the stainless steel Luminoxes have a screw down crown; if it isn't secured it'll be open to the outside. The plastic cased ones must have some other way to seal them, because they don't have the screw down crowns. I would assume they're less water resistant, but still, they're rated at the same depth, presumably 200 meters. Just the same, I'll probably not try it out in the pool, not just yet..

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    FWIW: tritium vials create light through radioactive stimulation of a phosphor, not through a chemical change like GITD products. Science fact, not marketing hype. Telephony did a great write-up on tritium stimulation in another CPF post (its searchable).

    Alien Skin and other GITD products are initially brighter. They just don't sustain that luminosity. From my observation, the tritium vials in my 10-year-old watch are brighter than GITD stuff within an hour after the GITD is exposed to light.

    cave dave: your description reads like you sure got a faulty product & definitely needed to return it. Four other people I know have worn the Navy Seals watch for years. None have had problems. I hope yours and your friend's experiences were maybe a little unusual.

    My experience with my Navy Seal watch has been excellent ... it's the best & most durable 'utility' watch I've owned and I'm very abusive with watches (not intentionally, it's a character flaw ... scuba, caving, climbing and being a klutz are hard on them).

    The Navy Seal watch is sealed by a very thin O ring. If you remove the back to replace the battery, that O ring has to be relubricated and precisely aligned or the watch will leak. The other models (per wingerr) with screw down crowns & backs don't share this issue.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Thanks everyone for your responses. THe reason i asked was because i did a search for "tritium paint" on Yahoo and it led me to a Q&A page for TimeZone.com.

    The "expert" said that "Tritium paint on watches is a mixture of tritium and phospor" and that "tritium emits “beta radiation,” which is a bunch of excited electrons that in turns excite the electron in the phosphor atoms making them emit photons, or light, as they return to their ground (non-excited) state: the phosphor GLOWS. Phosphor can also be excited by UV light from the sun or other light sources. Thus, the tritium paint relies on tritium radioactivity to make the phosphor glow in the dark, not any charge from external light source."


    So you can see why i am confused. SO is this the real answer then?

    Tritium painted dials must be recharged by UV or sunlight. And Tritium (traser) vials glow on their own by releasing radiation and interacting with the phospher coated vials.

    If this is the case, then wouldn't tritium paint be kinda like the fake xenon bulbs that claim to be HID, and Tritium vials be the real stuff?

    If Tritium paint isn't self-illuminating, then why use that stuff? Why not use current powders and paints like Nichia or ExtremeGlow that actually can remain lit for the whole night?

    ...told ya i had questions. [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    P.S. Thanks everyone for your help! BTW i'm pretty much sold on the Luminox, i'm just looking for the compass strap i hear is made for it.

    Gee, if only the Swiss Army watch i want really could remain lit for the whole night like this:

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    I understand the confusion. I firmly believe that expert's quote is, as cave dave said, marketing hype (maybe bull-dookie is more like it, better pull on your boots). Although it seems there's some truth to 'tritium paint' being used, it's inferior to the vials.

    The folks at Traser are experts on this stuff. More than you ever want to know about tritium vials is here: Traser

    UV doesn't appear to do much, but it does make my watch's tritium tubes glow just little brighter for a second or so before they do a fast fade back to their normal intensity.

    Mark

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Tritium paint is nowhere near as bright as tritium vials. I have a couple of watches with tritium paint on the hands. It has to be almost completely dark in order to see them glow. My Luminox is visible even in a not-very-dark room. In a completely dark room it's very bright - it even casts a greenish glow onto my nightstand.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* Wingerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    The tritium paint markings are only intended to provide a slight residual self glow; they need to be charged up by light to serve any useful purpose. While they can be brighter immediately after charging, it dissipates fairly quickly.

    Looks like it's unanimous; go for the GTLS! Coolness factor is much higher off the scale- it is for me, since I'm always looking for dark places to admire the glow of my watch- [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Thanks wingerr, you've been a great help in the watch section!
    So that's it, the Luminox it is...that is final...end of discussion. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR> I'm always looking for dark places to admire the glow of my watch <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    I do the exact same thing with my flashlights! I really look forward to the evenings and the winter months just to use my lights and other things that glow! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    Maybe this is a little late in the topic, but about 10 years ago, I bought some "Tritium Paste" from a watchmakers supply shop. It cost ~$10 for 1cc.

    At first, it had a "reasonable" glow, but was very bright when charged up. About 5 years after that, it had faded to a very slight glow. Now, even with a SF to charge it, it barely lights up.

    I think that sealing it in with some sort of lacquer might have helped, but the watchmaker's supplies didn't have any info about it at all.

    I'd say definitely go for Tritium in tubes.

    lightlover [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/rolleyes.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* Wingerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    So is the sig soon to be:

    UK Light Cannon PLUS parts!
    Surefire E2
    PT 3LED Attitude
    LSI 1 Million CP Spotlight
    Luminox GTLS watch


    ?

    [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]


    Glowy things rule! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* John N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tritium paint vs. Tritium filled vials

    There is a discussion about watches on Blade Forums. There is a mention of the Luminox and one person indicated he had tried several Swiss Army watches before finding Luminox.
    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/sh...hreadid=185857

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