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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
There has been a lot of discussion,and some data, comparing the relative merits of Tritium Gas Light Systems (TGLS, "tubes") and conventional lume (Superluminova, etc.). Lots of folks love the "killer lume" on the Seiko Monsters and find TGLS dull and boring. Others forego the dramatic "lume bloom" of a freshly charged Monster in preference to the long-lasting, constant lume provided by TGLS.

There has also been a lot of discussion about the half-life of Tritium gas (12.4 years) and how this will render a TGLS watch effectively useless in "a few years."

The objects of this test are:

1. Compare conventional lume to TGLS
2. Compare "Old" TGLS to new TGLS
3. Compare T25 TGLS to T100 TGLS
4. Compare conventional lume from various makers
5. Compare "Old" lume to modern Superluminova

The TGLS watches chosen for this test are:

1. Marathon GSAR (T25)
2. Luminox SR-71 (T25)
3. Luminox "Navy SEALS" (T25) 11 years old
4. Marathon CSAR
5. Deep Blue DayNightOps (T100)

The conventional lume watches chosen for this test are:

1. Vintage Seiko "Arnie"
2. Seiko Black Monster
3. Seiko Spring Drive SD600
4. Marathon JSAR
5. Omega X-33
6. Deep Blue Sea Diver 1000
7. Orient Mako

Here is the reference "Lights On" shot of all the watches (sorry for the reflectionso|):



At the top are the Seiko Arnie on the left and the Seiko Black Monster on the right.

Top row in the box from left to right are:
Seiko Spring Drive SD600
Marathon GSAR
Marathon JSAR
Omega X-33
Deep Blue Sea Diver 1000

Bottom row in box from left to right are:
Orient Mako
Luminox SR-71
Luminox Navy SEALS
Marathon CSAR
Deep Blue DayNightOps T100

Photos were taken with a Canon EOS20D with a Canon EF 50mm 1:2.5 Macro lens. ASA was set to 1600. Exposure was set to Manual with initial settings of 2 sec @ f/5.6. Exposure was changed during the course of the test to 5 sec @ f/5.6, then 8 sec @ f/5.6 for most of the test with a final shot set to 15 sec @ f/5.6 to try to capture all possible remaining lume.

Test duration was 537 minutes (almost 9 hours).

An intervalometer was used to shoot one frame every 15 minutes, but because of redundant shots (and WUS bandwidth :-d) not all shots are shown here.

The shots that are shown are:

1. Lights On reference shot (see above)
2. 0 min - Immediately after lights are turned off
3. 15 min
4. 30 min
5. 45 min
6. 60 min
7. 120 min
8. 135 min (5 sec exposure)
9. 150 min (Start 8 sec exposure)
10. 180 min
11. 330 min
12. 525 min
13. 537 min (15 sec exposure)

Before the test started all watches were "charged" with a 10,000 LUX (equivalent to sunlight through a window according to Casio charging charts) compact fluorescent light source balanced at 4100K for one hour.

Here is the first shot immediately after the lights were turned out:



Conventional lume is "blooming" after initial charge and those TGLS watches are looking a little wimpy. Even my old Seiko Arnie is showing some life.

After 15 min:



OOPS! Where did the Arnie go? Conventional lume "bloom" is subsiding.

After 30 min:



After 45 min:



After 60 min:



After 120 min:



Most of the conventional lume was still visible to the naked eye, so I attempted to brighten things up by increasing the exposure to 5 sec after 135 min:



And again, to brighten things up so the conventional lume would be more visible, exposure was increased to 8 sec after 150 min:



After 180 min:



Let's jump ahead to after 330 min:



And another jump to after 525 min:



And a final shot with the exposure increased to 15 seconds in an attempt to capture any remaining conventional lume after 537 min.:



You can draw your own conclusions, but here are mine:

1. When conventional lume is compared to TGLS, the initial "bloom" of conventional lume is indeed brighter than TGLS, but this quickly fades to the point that TGLS is brighter than conventional lume after less than an hour in the dark.

2. When comparing my 11 year old Luminox TGLS to the other T25 TGLS watches it is hard to notice any real difference. And remember, this watch is perilously close to the half-life of Tritium (12.3 years) where illumination is supposed to be only hald as bright as when new. Probably, if measured accurately, the brightness of the old Luminox would probably measure less bright, but it is hard to see this with the naked eye. Still plenty of life left in this older TGLS watch.

3. T100 TGLS tubes are definitely much brighter than T25. No surprise here, but I am still blown away with how bright they are.

4. In my judgment, the best conventional lume of those tested was the Seiko Spring Drive SD600. You be the judge as to which was worst.

5. My old Arnie, before the days of Superluminova, is relegated to the ranks of non-functional lume. Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Final thoughts:

Good conventional lume is perfectly serviceable for use "all night" as long as it has seen some decent light beforehand. However, if I want reliable lume that cab be easily read at any time, TGLS wins hands down - with T100 a clear winner.

Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions.

HTH
 

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Thanks for taking the time of doing this experiment, I know it can be time consuming to do such tests. It's very well made and really put things in perspective. This is the kind of post I like, very well done! I also agree with your conclusion, having a watch with Tritium tubes, I can say this is by far the most functional lume I have in my collection.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for taking the time of doing this experiment, I know it can be time consuming to do such tests. It's very well made and really put things in perspective. This is the kind of post I like, very well done! I also agree with your conclusion, having a watch with Tritium tubes, I can say this is by far the most functional lume I have in my collection.
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.
 

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I have been waiting to see this kind of experiement for a very long time. Very informative. Thank you for composing this fine test. :-!
 

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Awesome test. Totally confirms what those of us with watches of both kinds of lume systems have known all along. Well done.

Myron
 

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Which picture would you say shows, most accurately, what the TGLS watches look like to the eye in darkness?
 

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Yup, I love the bloom and I love the long lasting trit tubes.... guess I gotta buy both!! :)

Time to strat checking out ball watches....and deep blue....and Marathon.... (oh, crap)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Which picture would you say shows, most accurately, what the TGLS watches look like to the eye in darkness?
The one that comes closest is the last one - after 537 minutes.

After one's eyes have adjusted to the dark, the TGLS tubes are very bright.

HTH
 

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Very nice test. Nice to see that the older tubes are not that much dimmer than the new ones.

Personally with my night adapted vision I can easily read most traditional lumes completely through the night. With Seiko and Citizen being the best in my collection. So for me the added cost of trit tubes is not really justified. But thats just me.

What someone really needs to do is apply trit tubes onto big patches of Seiko Lumibrite. That way its the best of both.

Nice presentation though... very well thought out!!
 

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I have a 15 YO Luminox 3001 Seal watch. The tubes are dim enough after that amount of time, that you only see the tritium in complete darkness. If there is any light at all, you see the white of the hands and dial markings. Maybe the newer ones are better. I have an SKX173 that is about 12 YO, and it glows today like it did when I got it. draw your own conclusions.

My other beef with trit tubes is the lack of variation in the design of the 'lume'. I mean, in the dark, you get rectangles, or........rectangles. Not very many different designs available due to the nature of the tubes.

So for me, I will take a good Lumibrite/SLN watch over a trit tubed watch. I have a UV LED Inova X5 that charges these up in 10 seconds.
 
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Based on your old Luminox, this gives my hope that my Ball's tubes will still be glowing strong at their half life. Very neat and informative post! Much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have a 15 YO Luminox 3001 Seal watch. The tubes are dim enough after that amount of time, that you only see the tritium in complete darkness. If there is any light at all, you see the white of the hands and dial markings. Maybe the newer ones are better. I have an SKX173 that is about 12 YO, and it glows today like it did when I got it. draw your own conclusions.

My other beef with trit tubes is the lack of variation in the design of the 'lume'. I mean, in the dark, you get rectangles, or........rectangles. Not very many different designs available due to the nature of the tubes.

So for me, I will take a good Lumibrite/SLN watch over a trit tubed watch. I have a UV LED Inova X5 that charges these up in 10 seconds.
How about putting your old Luminox and your SKX173 in total dark for 5 or 6 hours and taking a comparative lume picture?

That would be very informative.

HTH
 

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In total darkness, the trit wins. Especially after 5-6 hours. But in a dimly lit room, especially after coming in from the outdoors, the Lumibrite works well. Like I said, the SKX173 glows now just like it did when new. The trit tubes will be dead soon.


How about putting your old Luminox and your SKX173 in total dark for 5 or 6 hours and taking a comparative lume picture?

That would be very informative.

HTH
 

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Nice test. I wish the exposure hadn't changed during the test, because that makes comparison more difficult than it should be. I think the exposure should have been kept constant through to the end.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Nice test. I wish the exposure hadn't changed during the test, because that makes comparison more difficult than it should be. I think the exposure should have been kept constant through to the end.
In principle, I agree. That was my intent at the start of the test, but it soon became evident that if I maintained the initial 2second exposure, the only watches visible would have been the TGLS watches.

If I had started with the 8 second exposure, the conventional lume watches would have appeared way too bright during their "bloom" period.

I decided it was better to increase the exposure mid test in order to more accurately reflect the lowered but still visible conventional lume. As the observations are comparative within each shot, as long as the exposure is know, valid conclusions can still be drawn.

HTH
 

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Fantastic review!

I wonder if you can say the T100 tritium would stay brighter longer (over 25 years) than the T25. Certainly would be another good reason to go T100.
 
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