Do they still make watches with radium dials?

Do they still make watches with radium dials?

Tritium, yes. Radium? Dunno.

If you’re looking for a watch that does have the permanent ‘glow in the dark’ that would be the way to go.
Military watches have this ‘feature.’

I thought tritium was a liquid, “heavy water”.

Actually, there are lots of watches that glow in the dark with phosphors.
The question is specifically if radium is still used, since it would seem to be dangerous, but I know that they were still being made decades after Madame Curie died of radium poisoning.

Nope. Tritium is “extra-heavy” hydrogen (ordinary hydrogen has but a single proton as its nucleus, deuterium (heavy hydrogen) has a proton and a neutron, tritium has a proton and two neutrons). It’s a beta emitter, with a half-life of about 12.33 years.

“Heavy water” is deuterium oxide, or D[sub]2[/sub]O.

Actually, there are lots of watches that glow in the dark with phosphors.

Do they glow for years without benefit of ‘recharging’ by sunlight/artificial light? Tritium watch dials/compasses are the only ones I’m aware of that glow brightly more or less permanently.

Actually, heavy water is any water where one or both of the hydrogen atoms are a heavier isotope (deuterium or tritium). HDO is the most common sort of heavy water, but you could also have T[sub]2[/sub]O, or HTO, or DTO, or D[sub]2[/sub]O.

All chemical glow-paints will only last for a short while (usually about an hour) before they need to be “recharged” in a bright light. Radioactive glow-paints will glow continually until they run out of radioactive material, but then they’re done: You can’t “recharge” them without applying a new coat of paint.

I have sometimes seen as the definition of “heavy water” any water molecule heavier than [sup]1[/sup]H[sub]2[/sub][sup]16[/sup]O. By that definition, the commonest form of heavy water in the oceans is [sup]1[/sup]H[sub]2[/sub][sup]18[/sup]O, according to this site. Of course that sort of heavy water doesn’t have the same properties as HDO.

I don’t think radium dials (or radium paint) are made anymore. The places that used to make the are so heavily contaminated that they are or were on the Superfund list).

What astonishes m is that radium dials were made for so incredibly long. There was a big media hype about the women who painted the hands coming down with cancer, back in the 1920s (read the book Radium Girls, an excellent account of this, which notably lacks hype). That pretty much put an end to civilian use. But they continued to make radium dials for Army Air Corps and later for Air Force dials well beyond then – they were doing it during and after WWII, into the 1950s, the 1960s, and even into the 1970s in some places. “We spread it around like butter” one worker from (I think) the 1960s was quoted as saying.

The stuff is, by present standards, scary. Workers were taught to “point” the brushes by licking them, so workers absrbed a lot of radium paint. But ven if they hadn’t, the powder was in the air. Women cam home and literally glowed The people who ran the plants weren’t teribly upset, because radium was thought to be a health tonic. (It was sold in solution as “RadioThor”. One guy who took RaioThor daily died of oral cancer.) After all, the plant managers orked in the same plants. Even if they didn’t lick the brushes themselves, they still inhaled the stuff.

What amazes me is the continued use of the stuff even after it was known how dangerous it could be. I hope they tightened up the precautions during use, but I suspect they didn’t.

You can still buy antique clocks and watches with radium dials - it’s not illegal or anything. But after all these years the paint flakes off and colects in crystals and the ike. I wouldn’t buy one. I’ve been called overly cautious, but I feel I don’t need the added REMs. It’s not the addition to background you can get by the clock being in the room – that’s trivial. Its the extra doe to your alveoli you get if you inhale the stuf. That can be a big local dose, and it’s there for a long time.

BTW, tritium is also used in night sites for firearms. It’s inlittle glass capsules in the sights, and they do indeed get dim once they’re 10 or 15 years old. I think that I heard that it is the most expensive yet commonly available chemical (perscription drugs might be more valuble, but are not sold over-the-counter, and gemstones are valuble for other qualiities than their chemical composition).

I haven’t heard of any radium dials being sold, but tritium is as has been stated. If you look on a watch and it says “T 25” ot “T~25” on the bottom, that means it is a Tritium dial with 25 or less than 25 microcuries, respectively. The crystal and body of the watch prevent radiation from escaping. I have a Stocker & Yale current military-issue watch with tritium dials that has a radiation hazard symbol on the dial and says on the back to treat it as hazardous waste when disposing of it.

My “everyday” watch has Super Luminova. Supposedly this will never lose its ability to glow in the lifetime of the owner. I was surprised the first time I wore the watch at night, that I could still see the markings in a pitch-black room several hours after I went to bed.

If anyone knows of a dial refinisher (for my vintage watches) who uses Super Luminova, please let me know!

Thanks ro those who corrected my dueterium error.

CalMeacham certainly has the facts for radium.

As for the newer replacements…Would I wear something next to my skin with a “radiation hazard symbol”?
Not on your tintype!

There was a documentary made in 1987 called RADIUM CITY.
Here’s a synopsis:

“This documentary concerns the women who fell victim to radium poisoning in Ottawa, Illinois during the 1920s. The women worked painting radium on the dials of clocks and would wet the tips of the paintbrushes with their tongues. Interviews with survivors from the industrial tragedy relate their experiences of the poisoning and the bureaucratic nightmare they were forced to contend with in seeking compensation and justice. Environmental concerns are raised, but the ambiguity surrounding the death toll is evident by a lack of death certificates and medical opinions. The feature relies on the sympathy the viewer feels for the victims of the preventable tragedy. ~ Dan Pavlides, All Movie Guide”

A few years back, I went to the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis, and there were old posters for various radium “health tonics”, including radium suppositories.

Radium suppositories? I don’t even want to know about the regular kind.

I do recall that radioactive springs are still popular in countries without FDA equivalents, and attract the desperate sufferers. Mexico?

Yes. They are standard issue in Canadian Military kits. The compass is also radium, I believe. My ex has both.