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Luminox replacement? Or tritium replacement?

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Gear' started by WValtakis, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    [​IMG][/URL]

    So I've had this watch on my wrist for a loooong time, and I was finally going to get the tritium replaced because it's gotten somewhat dim. I contacted Saltzmans (they had tritium replacement listed as a service last time I had the battery changed), they said they no longer have parts for my watch and offered a discount on a new one :(. I emailed Luminox directly, but I'm not holding a lot of hope that they will be able to help.

    I love this watch, it's taken a lot of abuse without flinching. And technically it still works just fine, but half the point of a Luminox is the tritium, right?

    So, I'm thinking of replacing it but I'm not sure with what. Tritium has been great, but if I can't get it replaced then it's not a lifetime watch. On the other hand, I haven't seen a glow in the dark that is actually still visible when I wake up in the middle of the night.

    Kind of rambling, so I apologize...I know I like the light weight of the Titanium, and I like a metal bracelet. Waterproof (shower) is a must. I'm kind of interested in Eco-drives since they should (in theory) last the longest but I'm not sure about the glow in the dark or if they have a backlight?

    Anyway, I'm just bummed about my watch and looking for some insight.

    Thanks in advance,
    ~Chip

    ETA: I've also read some stories about newer Luminox build quality that has me a little leery...is it really a problem (tritium vials falling off and such)?
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  2. evltcat

    evltcat Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 7, 2011
    FWIW I got a Luminox RECON NAV SPC for Christmas 2015. The alignment of the second had to the face is slightly off, and the tiniest tritium vial in the bezel stopped glowing a few months ago. It keeps reasonably good time ~40 seconds off since last sync with the DST change.

    I would NOT buy another one after this. I'm going with Nite when I replace the RECON.
     
  3. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    Thanks for the info, that's the kind of stuff I was reading about that made me leery of just taking the discount on a new Luminox.

    Does anybody know if there is anyone who could replace the tritium for me? I know it would void the warranty, but the warranty is pretty much useless if they have no parts anyway.

    ~Chip
     
  4. Cackmandu

    Cackmandu

    196
    Aug 24, 2015
    Seems like lifetime warranty should mean lifetime warranty, I would hold them to it! If they don't have the parts they should offer you a replacement watch! I had a Luminox a ling time ago and loved did and yes I dis have the lumins on the hands redone! Good Luck
     
  5. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    The response I got from Luminox USA was:
    "When this watch was made we uses a few different manufacturers some of which have gone out of business so parts are no longer available. All parts go directly to our Service Center so if they can't get the parts then they are no longer available"

    I've replied:
    "Thanks for the reply.

    The whole reason I bought a Luminox in the first place was the tritium. I fully expected to be able to have it replaced when it got dim and to have the watch last a lifetime.

    Now you're telling me that you are not going to continue to support your product? I definitely will not be able to recommend your product to others if this is the way you treat your customers after the sale.

    Please tell me that you have a solution, this is truly not what I expected for a company with a reputation for fine quality tools built to last a lifetime.

    We'll see what they say...

    ~Chip
     
  6. evltcat

    evltcat Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 7, 2011
    I'll be very interested in what Luminox says, since I remember them guaranteeing the tritium will be good for 10 years from data of purchase.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Danke42

    Danke42

    Feb 10, 2015
    What year did you buy the watch in?

    What model year was the watch?

    For the model year of your watch what was the published warranty coverage?
     
  8. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    I'll have to dig out the box, but it really doesn't matter. I know the watch is old, and never expected this to cover the tritium under warranty. I DID expect them to be able to replace the tritium and charge me accordingly, like their service center listed as a service when I had the battery replaced 5 or 6 years ago.

    I'm upset that they aren't supporting their product anymore. I emailed the service center back, the lady had also mentioned not being able to get parts to restore waterproofness...which made me wonder if I can even get the battery replaced again :eek:?

    No response back from either yet, if I don't hear anything by tomorrow I'll call the service center directly when I get off shift in the morning.

    ~Chip
     
  9. Danke42

    Danke42

    Feb 10, 2015
    You can still negotiate, it's best not to show them your whole hand at the start though.

    Try this; figure out how much it would cost to have a watchmaker replace all the tritium vials, and add in the cost of a pressure check and battery change. Give them that number and say you want a comparable watch for that amount.
     
  10. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    That's a good idea, thanks. Do you know any watch makers that do that kind of work so I could get a quote? Or just break down and have it done myself so I don't have an $800 paperweight down the line :(

    ETA: I did some googling, I found my question regarding watchmakers that do tritium replacement asked many times...but never an answer as to who could do the work :( If anyone has an idea, please let me know.

    ~Chip
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  11. Danke42

    Danke42

    Feb 10, 2015
    I'd just ask around San Francisco. There should be a few that pop out
     
  12. robgmn

    robgmn

    Oct 30, 2015
    A second option is having a Superluminova job done on it.
    It DOES need to be charged by light, but will last for up to 24 hours once exposed to UV for just a few minutes.
    'Not really helpful if you don't see light at least once a day though...

    I found this elsewhere on the 'net and thought you might be interested:
    Fundamentally yes, the tritium tubes are replaceable, but there is a great big but to that.

    Tritium is produced in nuclear reactors by neutron activation of lithium-6, but can also be produced from boron-10 via neutron capture. Half-life is 12.36 years.

    The tritium used in watches is really a mixture of tritium and a phosphor: the tritium emits beta particles that excite the phosphor so that it glows.

    The tritium in a gaseous tritium light source undergoes beta decay, releasing electrons which cause the phosphor layer to glow.
    During manufacture, a length of thin borosilicate glass tube which has had the inside surface coated with a phosphor-containing compound is filled with the radioactive tritium. The tube is then fused with a CO2 laser at the desired length. Borosilicate is preferred because it is a type of glass noted for its strength and resistance to breakage. In the tube, the tritium gives off a steady stream of energy in the form of electrons due to beta decay. These particles excite the phosphor, resulting in the emittance of a low, steady glow. You don't have to use tritium, any substance that issues a significant amount of beta particles will do, but tritium is preferred because it is not very hazardous.

    You get different colors by changing the phosphorous compound (see Ball watches for a very effective use of this).

    There is, as far as I know, only one commercial source for gaseous tritium, packaged in glass tubes that have an internal phosphor coating. These are called "trasers" and are only available from the company bearing the same name.

    Legally, in the US, anything containing tritium is considered dual-use and cannot be easily exported, which is probably why the only real commercial source is in Switzerland. If I understand their policy correctly, they will not sell the tubes by themselves to anyone, and in order to replace them you must get in touch with the actual manufacturer of the watch and go through official channels. Hence the big but on getting them replaced: I have one of the early tritium US milspec watches and getting the original manufacturer to replace the tritium is largely an exercise in futility.
     
  13. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    Thanks, I've emailed the closest Ball service center to inquire, they were the only manufacturer I found that definitely offers replacement according to their post on watchuseek.

    And yeah, I'm familiar with the intricacies of obtaining tritium...my Luminox is far from the only thing I have with it.

    I emailed Bart from CPF to see if he can get the tiny tritium vials used in watches so I could have a jeweler do the work myself.

    I also emailed mbmicrotec to see if they can recommend a watchmaker in the US that they supply with tritium.
    ~Chip
     
  14. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    Got a reply from the sales manager at mbmicrotec, he doesn't know anyone in the US that could do the work but he might have a customer in Hong Kong that is going to ask :) It'd be a last resort and a long trip but it would keep a great watch fully functional...

    ~Chip
     
  15. bdmicarta

    bdmicarta

    Feb 16, 2012
    I have 2 Luminox that I bought used, and I like them both. I know that the tritium will degrade over time and I couldn't predict where my watches are on this curve, but they both still work well enough for me. I think the practical life of tritium tubes is long enough to pretty much depreciate the value of the watch, assuming it doesn't get lost/damaged/banged up during that time.

    If one of mine dimmed enough to be less useful for me, I would sell it used and buy another watch with tritium. (I would of course disclose the condition and sell at a discount.) I would have no problem buying another Luminox but there are plenty of other brands available with tritium. I wouldn't go through the trouble and risk of trying to replace the tubes.

    As for eco-drive- I've owned about 4 of them and there are problems with that technology. The batteries are not reliable and they cost approx. $100 to replace. There are a lot of companies that specialize in doing just that. OTOH with my Luminox I can replace the battery myself for just a few dollars, and it will last up to 7 years. If you treat an eco-drive properly they have a reasonable lifespan. If you don't treat them well they can die quickly.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    It looks like the manufacturer in China is going to come through :D I've been quoted approximately $120 for ice blue hands/12 o'clock with green hour markers, plus return shipping. They estimate a two week turnaround time, I'll be shipping it out in a day or two and will update when I get it back.

    ~Chip
     
  17. robgmn

    robgmn

    Oct 30, 2015
    Make sure they pressure test it!
    'Would suck to have it repaired and then ruined due to compromised gaskets & seals...
     
  18. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    Good call, I've emailed to ask if they can pressure test. They do make dive style watches, so hopefully they're set up for it.

    ~Chip
     
  19. WValtakis

    WValtakis Hand Engraving, Anodizing and Embellishment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2004
    It's back! Ice blue for the hands and 12 o'clock, green for the rest. The only way to really tell it's been fiddled with is the hole in the second hand (they recommend replacement to avoid issues) I'd love to show you a glow shot but I can't get my phone to pick it up, it's nice and bright though :D Total with shipping and battery replacement was $172.

    [​IMG]

    ~Chip
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017

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