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06/20/2023
 6 minutes

Titanium Watches: What You Need to Know

By Sebastian Swart
Tudor-Pelagos-2-1

Watches are not only practical accessories for keeping time, but also a great way to express your personal style and individuality. There are many things to consider when selecting a new timepiece, one of which is your case material of choice. Watches with titanium cases have been growing in popularity in recent years. This is in large part due to the fact that titanium is an interesting metal with several unique properties that are advantageous for watchmaking. For starters, it’s lightweight, strong, hypoallergenic, and corrosion-resistant, all of which make it a top pick for many watch enthusiasts.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the material itself, highlight some of its pros and cons, and introduce a few of the watch brands that have embraced titanium and their most successful models.

Tudor Pelagos LHD aus Titan
Tudor Pelagos LHD in titanium

What is a titanium watch?

A titanium watch is one that has a portion of its body made of titanium, most often its case. In recent years, however, many manufacturers have also started making bracelets from the material.

The Japanese brand Citizen is a pioneer in the manufacture of titanium watches. Back in 1970, they presented the first watch made from the material: the Citizen X8 Titanium Chronometer. In 1980, luxury watchmaker IWC followed suit with their Porsche Design Titanium Chronograph, the first commercially available Swiss-made titanium watch. The latter was groundbreaking in the industry and laid the foundation for the material’s success in years to come.

Today, almost every well-known brand has a titanium watch in their lineup, ranging from sporty to elegant designs. Watches made of titanium offer a great balance of durability, comfort, and beauty.

Gilt als erste in Serie produzierte Schweizer Uhr aus Titan: IWC Porsche Design Titan Chronograph
The first Swiss luxury watch made of titanium to enter series production – the IWC Porsche Design Titanium Chronograph

Pros and Cons of Titanium

Like every material, titanium has numerous advantages and disadvantages that put it ahead or behind other material options for manufacturers and buyers. Let’s break things down a bit further:

Pros

  • Lightweight: Titanium is an extremely lightweight material, meaning watches made from it are more comfortable than those made of stainless steel or other heavier metals. The exact difference in weight compared to stainless steel depends on the specific alloy, but averages around 40% lighter. This makes titanium watches particularly well-suited for everyday use and in sports.
  • Hard: Although titanium is lightweight, it’s exceptionally strong. Thus, titanium watches are much more resistant to scratches, knocks, and dents than their stainless steel counterparts.
  • Corrosion-resistant: Titanium has a stable oxide layer on its surface that helps protect it against corrosion. This is particularly appealing for use in environments with high levels of humidity, such as in chemical manufacturing, and for activities that involve saltwater.
  • Hypoallergenic: Titanium rarely causes allergic reactions on skin, making the metal a good choice for people with sensitive skin or allergies to certain metals.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: Titanium boasts a dark, satin-esque sheen that gives watches a modern, elegant appearance and a premium metallic finish.

      Cons

      While there are a number of advantages to titanium watches, there are also a few disadvantages to be aware of:

      • Monotone: Compared to stainless steel or gold, titanium is rather limited in its range of hues. Titanium watches are generally available in dark gray or silver. While this is appealing to those who prefer a minimalist, sleek look, it could be limiting for anyone looking for a more vibrant aesthetic.
      • Almost too light: While the material’s weight is an advantage in some situations, many watch lovers perceive titanium watches to be less valuable because they are so lightweight. Watches made of stainless steel or gold have a certain heaviness that makes them feel more robust. This leads some to (wrongly) perceive titanium watches to be more delicate or fragile.
      • Prone to minor scratches: While titanium is harder than stainless steel, it is still prone to minor scratches. Manufacturers often use surface treatments to help reduce this susceptibility, such as PVD coatings or sandblasting.
      • Difficult to work with: Since titanium is such a hard metal, it’s more difficult to process than stainless steel. As a result, the industry has had to develop specialized tools and techniques specific to the metal, which in turn results in higher production costs. Thus, titanium watches are often more expensive than comparable stainless steel models.

        At the end of the day, a lot comes down to personal preference and the individual wearer’s needs. What may seem like a disadvantage to one person may be a welcome bonus for another.

        Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic 10th Anniversary Limited Edition – sandgestrahltes Titangehäuse an passendem Titanarmband
        Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Automatic 10th Anniversary Limited Edition – sandblasted titanium case on a matching titanium bracelet

        Select Watch Brands With Titanium Watches

        Many well-known watch manufacturers have titanium timepieces in their collections. Here is a small selection of brands with titanium models in their portfolios:

        • Rolex: The brand with the crown has offered the Sea-Dweller Deepsea Challenge (ref. 126067) in titanium since 2022, making it the brand’s first series-produced titanium watch. This model boasts an impressive depth rating of 11,000 m (1,100 bar, 36,090 ft), made possible by its robust 50-mm case that stands a stately 23 mm tall. Despite these hefty dimensions, the Deepsea Challenge weighs just 250 g.

        The Deepsea Challenge is the series production model of a prototype made in 2012 for famous film director James Cameron. The prototype accompanied Cameron down some 35,787 ft to the bottom of the Mariana Trench on the outside of his submersible. Don’t expect to get a bargain on this model. As is par for the course with Rolex these days, the current market price for a Deepsea Challenge is upwards of $46,500 (as of May 2023), despite Rolex’s official list price being “just” $26,000.

        Erste Titanuhr von Rolex – Sea-Dweller Deepsea Challenge Ref. 126067
        Rolex’s first titanium watch – the Sea-Dweller Deepsea Challenge ref. 126067

        • Omega: In contrast to Rolex, Omega offers quite a few of its models in a titanium variant, including the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GMT (ref. 232.92.44.22.03.001). This timepiece measures 43.5 mm across and features a blue dial, bezel, and rubber strap. The watch stands 17.3 mm tall and weighs 113 g. Current market prices fall just shy of $6,000.
        Omega Planet Ocean 600M Ref. 232.92.44.22.03.001
        Omega Planet Ocean 600M ref. 232.92.44.22.03.001

        Another noteworthy titanium Omega is the Seamaster 300M 007 Edition. Omega released the ref. 210.92.42.20.01.001 to mark the release of the Bond film No Time to Die in 2021. According to the brand, the 42 mm wide, 13 mm tall watch weighs just 72 g. Thanks to the model’s black dial and retro-style indices, the watch has a sporty yet elegant charm. This reference will set you back around $9,000 on Chrono24.

        Die Titanuhr von James Bond – Omega Seamaster 300M „No Time To Die”
        The titanium James Bond watch – the Omega Seamaster 300M “No Time to Die”

        You can find more interesting titanium watches from Omega in the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M, Seamaster 300, Seamaster Ploprof, 1200M, and Speedmaster lines. Due to their sizes, most of these watches are best suited to larger wrists; however, there are two variants of the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M (e.g., ref. 231.90.39.21.04.001) with a diameter of 38.5 mm, making them interesting unisex options.

        • Breitling: You’ll find a wide selection of titanium watches in the Breitling lineup. One example is the Super Avenger Chronograph 48 Night Mission. Like the Sea-Dweller Deepsea Challenge, this is not a watch for delicate wrists; though despite measuring 48 mm across and standing 17.7 mm tall, the model weighs just 132 g without a band. While its dimensions may be on par with those of the Deepsea Challenge, its water resistance certainly is not, coming in at a mere 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft).

        You’ll find more titanium watches in the Superocean, Avenger, Emergency, Aerospace, and Exospace lines.

        Nichts für schmale Handgelenke – Breitling Super Avenger Chronograph 48 Night Mission
        Not for delicate wrists – the Breitling Super Avenger Chronograph 48 Night Mission

        • Tudor: The Tudor Pelagos from 2012 was the manufacturer’s first titanium watch. Water-resistant to 500 m (50 bar, 1,640 ft), the 42-mm original model (ref. M25600TN) features a satin-brushed titanium case and bracelet. The total weight is just under 150g. The dial stands out thanks to its square hour indices, also known as snowflake indices, as well as the hour and seconds hands in a similar snowflake design. Expect to see prices around $4,700 for the ref. M25600TN.

        There are now five different versions of the Pelagos in the Tudor catalog. These include models with a blue dial and bezel, a version for left-handers, and most recently, the smaller Pelagos 39, which with a diameter of 39 mm makes a great unisex watch.

        Tudors erste Uhr aus Titan – Pelagos Ref. M25600TN
        The first titanium Tudor – the Pelagos ref. M25600TN

        • IWC: Swiss titanium pioneer IWC has offered an attractive titanium version of their classic model, the Ingenieur Automatic 40, since 2023. Boasting both a case and bracelet made of titanium, this 40-mm watch leans on the original design by famed Gérald Genta from the 1970s. This is evidenced by the watch’s integrated bracelet and angular case shape. The obligatory soft iron inner cage protects the movement from powerful magnetic fields. The official list price for the titanium Ingenieur Automatic 40 is $14,600.
        Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium (Bild: IWC)
        Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium (image: IWC)

        Read more about the IWC Ingenieur here.


        About the Author

        Sebastian Swart

        I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

        Read more

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