Why Are Nixie Tubes and Nixie Tube Watches so Expensive?
- Henry Blake, electronics
The reason is that nobody is making nixie tubes on a commercial basis nowadays. They are popular among people who like vintage devices and their futuristic appearance. For example, check out any sci-fi movie from the 60s or 70s, and you’ll certainly see nixie tubes there. Today, nixie tube clocks are still available but rare. People who make them usually use Soviet military stocks. As old tubes get used up, they also become more expensive.
The tiny tubes used in watches are especially rare because they were rarely used in the nixie display age. The thing is that tubes were not popular in clocks until recent years. Back in the days when people used nixie tubes, digital clocks made out of them would be very big and expensive. When LSI clock chips appeared, we’ve already had LED displays so nobody used nixie tubes.
However, we see how the demand for nixies grows, so there’s a chance that somebody will start manufacturing them again. The same situation has already happened with tubes used in audio amplifiers, and nixie tubes are even simpler to make, as they are, basically, neon lamps with multiple electrodes.
- James Grimes
This is an obsolete technology. As far as I know, nobody’s been making them for many years. So, people who have a limited supply can charge as much as they want for them. These things are rare and became popular not so long ago, because they look cool and people love vintage devices. Clocks and watches are so expensive not only because of the tubes but also because of the high voltage supply. Nixie clocks require extremely efficient components, and you have to pay for them, as well.