Watch World

Lights Out for Tritium? In recent years, watches with tritium numerals, markers, and indices have been glowing like mini-nuclear reactors. And they’re nearly as controversial. Though safe, the luminescent material alarms some people because of its minute traces of radioactivity. With Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Hong Kong, and Scandinavian countries refusing to accept tritium, overseas manufacturers—especially in Switzerland—are phasing it out. “Some countries are eliminating tritium and some are limiting it,” says one distributor. “The United States has strong environmental groups, so it’s just a matter of time before it takes the same steps.” In the 1950s, watches were illuminated with dangerous radium paint, which led to deaths of dial painters and, subsequently, lawsuits and new regulations. Retailers and watch companies still get concerned calls from consumer
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