While there are a number of different watch brands that use tritium tubes for their illumination technology, there are only a handful of companies that actually produce the glowing radioactive gas-filled tubes themselves. Among these is MB-Microtec, which is a Swiss-based manufacturer that produces tritium tubes for a variety of different watch companies under the brand name Trigalight. With that in mind, MB-Microtec also produces its own watches under another one of its sub-brands called Traser, which was first created in 1989 to fulfill a request from the US Army for a timepiece based upon MIL-W-46374F military specifications. Over the years, Traser has expanded to produce a fairly wide assortment of different watches, and one of the latest additions to the brand’s catalog for 2023 is the Traser P99 T Tactical, which is a large and highly utilitarian timepiece that is crafted entirely from sandblasted titanium.
The Traser P99 T Tactical series follows an overall format that is similar to that of a dive watch, and this same core style can be observed among numerous different Traser models dating all the at back to the brand’s very first watch (the P6500 Type 6) that was produced for the United States Army in 1989. Crafted from titanium with an entirely matte sandblasted finish, the case of the Traser P99 T Tactical measures 46mm in diameter, and it almost has a cross-shaped profile due to the protrusion on the 9 o’clock side that mirrors the shape of the crown guards at 3 o’clock. Measuring from the tip of the crown guards to the edge of the bulge on the back of the case, the overall width of the P99 T Tactical comes in at 49mm, while the thickness of the watch measures 13.7mm from caseback to crystal, which ultimately ends up being closer to 14mm once you include the angled tabs that stick up at the cardinal points on the bezel.
The lug-to-lug measurement of the Traser P99 T Tactical comes in at 54mm, which makes it objectively a rather large wristwatch, although its full-titanium construction helps keep weight to a minimum and ensures that it remains surprisingly manageable on the wrist. A solid screw-down caseback with laser-etched engravings works with a signed screw-down crown at 3 o’clock to help guarantee an ample 200 meters of water resistance, while the dial of the watch is protected by a flat anti-reflective sapphire crystal. Surrounding the crystal is a 60-click bidirectional timing bezel that features an elapsed-time scale with a deep textured design for maximum grip. While the bezel is undeniably incredibly easy to grasp, there is a small amount of play to its action, and since the actual force required to rotate the bezel isn’t especially strong, it would likely benefit from slightly greater tension in order to help minimize any possibilities of it getting moved out of place by coming into contact with a surface or article of clothing.
While Traser watches are best known for their Trigalight tritium gas-filled tubes, the brand does not shy away from also using photoreactive luminescent material, and the Traser P99 T Tactical incorporates a mixture of both into its low-light display. Tritium tubes appear on all three of the hands plus each one of the 12 hour markers, and while the vast majority of the luminescent material on the P99 T Tactical glows green, the tubes placed at the 12 o’clock marker and within the tip of the seconds hand both glow orange in order to help offer superior at-a-glance contrast. Two additional tritium tubes appear within the Traser logo on the upper half of the dial, while another pair of tritium tubes are placed in a crosshair formation inside a sealed capsule set within the zero marker of the bezel. The remaining three cardinal points on the bezel are finished with green-emission Super-LumiNova, and in addition to having a glowing accent ring on its crown, the Traser P99 T Tactical also features a luminous gasket surrounding its crystal.
At the time of writing, the Traser P99 T Tactical series is available in two colorways, which span a total of four different configurations. Alongside the gray version featured here is a brown dial model that incorporates small bright red accents into its design. Although both versions of the P99 T Tactical are available with matching titanium bracelets, the gray model is also available with a blue rubber strap, while the brown version’s alternate configuration comes with a matching brown and red striped NATO strap. Additionally, one other difference worth mentioning is that while the gray version features luminous markings on the cardinal points of its bezel, the bright red bezel markings on the brown version do not glow at all. Aside from their different colorways, the underlying design of the two models are otherwise identical, and both feature dials that have a rectangular aperture at the 3 o’clock location that contains both day and date displays, along with large angled chapter rings that house their horizontally-placed tritium tube hour markers.
While the tritium tubes themselves serve as the hour indexes, the minute track gets printed on a dark gray ring that sits along their interior perimeter, and the darker hue of this ring-shaped section offers greater contrast for the white markings of the minute track. Printed along the interior of the minute track ring is a secondary scale for reading the time in a 24-hour format, while additional five-minute markers are printed directly below the crystal on the upper flat surface of the angled chapter ring. Meanwhile, the hands are partially skeletonized with a dark gray brushed PVD finish to complement the various gray tones that are present throughout the dial. Although the tone-on-tone finish of the hands doesn’t offer the absolute most amount of contrast, the large tritium tubes set into them ensure that the watch remains fairly easy to read, regardless of lighting conditions.
Inside the Traser P99 T Tactical is a battery-powered Swiss quartz movement, and while Traser doesn’t specify the specific manufacturer or caliber number, it is more than likely one of the familiar offerings from one of the big-name brands such as ETA or Ronda. Although there isn’t anything all that exciting about this type of movement, a simple Swiss quartz caliber does promise a rather drama-free ownership experience, as it requires nothing other than a battery replacement every several years and will run continuously until the time comes to swap out the battery again, regardless of how it is stored or how often the watch is worn. While there are some folks who believe all quartz movements should be solar, classic battery-powered calibers still very much have their place in modern watches, and having a movement that requires sunlight somewhat goes against the core concept of tritium tubes and their ability to glow continuously for up to 25 years without receiving any type of light exposure.
The titanium bracelet fitted to the lugs of the Traser P99 T Tactical tapers from 22mm at the case down to 20mm where it connects to its signed clasp. Despite not being the absolute most premium offering, the bracelet itself is more than serviceable, and it features a completely solid-link design with a machined folding clasp that operates with a double push-button release. That said, the removable links are connected by friction-fit pins rather than by single-sided screws and other than two sizing holes for the connecting springbar, the clasp doesn’t feature any type of integrated extension system or micro-adjustment capabilities. With that in mind, I would still recommend getting the bracelet version for anyone who might even have the slightest interest in wearing their P99 T Tactical on a bracelet, as you can much more easily find a satisfactory third-party strap that will fit its 22mm lugs, compared to trying to track down a compatible bracelet in matching sandblasted titanium.
Compared to what Traser charges for the standard versions of the P99 Tactical, which have cases made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer, the additional premium for titanium is fairly reasonable, with the strap-equipped models starting out at $740 USD, while the Traser P99 T Tactical on a full-titanium bracelet is accompanied by an official retail price of $890 USD. Options for Swiss-made watches with luminous tritium tube displays in full titanium are already rather limited, and the number of options further decreases should you want one that comes with a matching titanium bracelet. At this price point, a number of wonderful timepieces are also within budget, although the Traser P99 T Tactical isn’t necessarily aimed at the person who just wants a decent everyday timekeeping companion, but rather it is for the person who specifically is looking for a premium execution of a large, rugged, and highly utilitarian tool watch. For more information on the Traser P99 T Tactical watch, please visit the brand’s website.