Another factor: Prices for collectible vintage watches began to climb sharply almost the same year that tritium was phased out. Between 1998 and 2003, for instance, Paul Newman Daytonas went from around $20,000 for a white dial 6239, to around $40,000, in the same time period. By 2008, that model was hammering for nearly twice that, and so it would not be unreasonable to expect the first “pre-aged lume” watches to begin to appear at around the same time. Interest in vintage watches was high, and getting higher, and unrestored watches from the very last years of tritium had been sitting around long enough to have begun to acquire a fetching creamy hue (to say nothing of any original condition watches from previous decades). By 2008, we’re also pretty close to the half-life deadline for the last batch of tritium-dial watches. Let’s take a look at 2008 and environs, then, and see what, horologically, was cooking.
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