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Recycling self-luminous watches

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January 2022


Recycling self-luminous watches

Swiss microtechnology company mb-microtec is the inventor of a self-powered illumination technology called “trigalight”, used in watches. It has set up a recycling plant for tritium gas, the source used to create the luminescence.

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b-microtec, a Swiss microtechnology company, was founded in 1969 in Niederwangen near Bern. One of its branches, trigalight, specialises in the production of a self-powered illumination technology using gaseous tritium light sources, which can deliver luminescence for decades without any external energy source.

Besides watchmaking, this technology, which requires specific know-how in in the fields of microtechnology, chemistry and physics, is also used in the security, automotive and aerospace industries.

Recycling self-luminous watches

The company has just announced that it can now guarantee a “closed product life cycle from production all the way to recycling” for tritium. This development follows the introduction of the world’s first tritium recycling facility in December 2020, a move aligned with a wider trend in the watchmaking industry to work with shorter logistical circuits, recycling and even upcycling.

The remaining tritium is extracted from the glass capillary, released with the help of a filter, and can be fully reused.

Recycling self-luminous watches

Similar to waste-water treatment

“With the successful development of a recycling facility, we are able to recover over 90 percent of the tritium that is not being utilised in the final product or is left in old products for reuse,” says David Corpataux, executive developer of the facility. “Consequently, we can conserve tritium resources and significantly reduce transportation.”

The operating principle can be compared with waste-water treatment: the remaining tritium is extracted from the glass capillary, released with the help of a filter, and can eventually be fully reused. The purity of the recycled gas is identical to newly purchased tritium.

Beat Scheidegger, Head of trigalight
Beat Scheidegger, Head of trigalight

In addition to recycling of production offcuts, trigalight accepts returns of products sold in the past. The microtechnology company also specialises in the application and exchange of its fine illumination capillaries. “Due to authority restrictions, the recycling of old products is currently limited to Switzerland. However, we are working towards a cross-border solution to offer this service also to our international partners and clients in the near future,” states Beat Scheidegger, Head of trigalight.

Recycling self-luminous watches
Recycling self-luminous watches
Recycling self-luminous watches
Recycling self-luminous watches

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