Nowadays know the exact time – no problem. We are surrounded by many different devices that you can always rely on: a wall clock, a computer check, a smartphone screen. Luxury watches while kept aloof – they do not need to get out of your pocket or bag as a mobile phone, and even more so they do not sit so fast battery (if there was one), they are always on hand, whereas a computer or large interior all-hours did not go with every moment of our lives. Most modern watches will not let any day or night thanks to the presence in them of a particular type of illumination.
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The luminescent coating
Wrist watches with luminescent back-light – all the usual option when the hour markers and hands glow in the dark without power supply. The oldest method used in the watch industry – phosphorescence. The substance has accumulated energy from an external light source, it releases its own as a relatively slow emission. The simplest example of such substances – phosphorus, although it is now no longer used because of the danger to human health. Modern substances are safe, their advantages – a bright glow in the first minutes after being hit in the darkness, and the lack of – this glow lasts long. The brightness is gradually reduced, and after a couple of hours to consider the time in the dark becomes difficult.
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Tritium: radioactive and safe
One of the latest discoveries in this area was the tritium illumination, working on radio-based. This process is called beta decay of tritium, which is independent of external influences and lasts a long time, for decades. Tritium – is super-heavy hydrogen, or rather a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. It was opened in 1934, but used in watchmaking it began relatively recently, in the first decade of the XXI century.
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Approximately 50’s was the basis radio luminescent paint radium-226, and then it began to be replaced by promethium-147, and sometimes krypton-85. These paints were coated with elements of watch dials and other equipment. Today, the most common is tritium, which emits beta particles. Safety glass absorbs them almost completely, so it is considered safe for humans. And indeed the energy of the particles is so weak that not only glass, even human skin is able to repel them. Also, to achieve a concentration of hazardous substances to be thousands of times greater than the amount that we are wearing on the wrist.
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Principle of operation
To use tritium create miniature glass bulbs. Their inner surface is coated with a thin layer of luminous matter. Color you can choose any, but traditionally the human eye perceives the best green. Tritium gas is injected under pressure into the flask, after which they were sealed. Decay of tritium emits electrons, they are faced with a covering, but it absorbs their energy and turns it into visible light.
In the space of the dial
Of these flasks cut elements of the desired size, which is mounted on the hour markers and hands. Tritium Decay lasts for decades, thanks to the glow does not stop for a second. Such illumination does not need external light sources. The watch can remain for years in a box and shine all the time. Of course, this is not a perpetual motion machine, and the glow becomes weaker with time, but the performance is impressive. Such illumination loses about half of brightness within 10-15 years from the date of production and approximately 75% in 25-30 years. Some manufacturers provide a service replacement of tritium items in its service centers.