What's Special about Titanium Watch cases?
In recent years there has been much more experimentation with watch case materials. From interesting composites to carbon fibre, and then from innovative new alloys to good old-fashioned bronze, we've seen many options for watch lovers who want something different from the usual stainless steel. Now many watch companies have added Titanium-cased watches to their catalogue.
A piece of pure Titanium metal which has been polished. This is manufactured, it has to go through a complex chemical process to achieve this after mining various minerals.
What is Titanium?
Titanium is a metal that is mined from various minerals and formed using a special chemical process. It has three particularly useful properties: it is 45% lighter than steel but equally as strong, it does not tarnish, and it is not corroded by water or many chemicals. It can also be polished to a dull grey lustre. This combination makes for watches that are light on the wrist with an interesting metallic finish.
Why get a watch with a Titanium Case?
The simplest answer is it lets a big watch feel like a small watch. Titanium really feels light on the wrist. If you get a Titanium bracelet as well, then the combination is extraordinary. If you are used to wearing stainless steel sports watches on steel bracelets you will notice the difference immediately.
The case colour is also different. It is a darker grey than steel. There are a large variety of steel alloys and Titanium alloys and they all have very slightly different colours of grey when polished, but Titanium really is noticeable. It is also less shiny than Stainless steel. For people who want something more subtle than steel, titanium is a great option.
Some companies offer a surface treatment that makes it even more of a matt finish. This is particularly interesting, and the Tag Heuer Aquaracer in Green is a good example.
A Tag heuer Aquaracer with Titanium Case and Bracelet. Note the matt grey finish, which is especially clear on the crown.
Are Titanium watches more expensive?
Unfortunately, they are definitely more expensive than similar steel-cased watches in a given range. This is because the material is harder to form into the required watch's case shape, and there are fewer of them. It is the reduction in machining costs for titanium that has led to it becoming available in modern watches, previously it was so expensive to produce it was only used for things like aeroplane parts and medical implants. On one hand, it is good that watch lovers now have this option, on the other, they should expect to pay more for it.
The good news is that many different brands use Titanium and it is available at lower price points than you might think. The Japanese brand Citizen has a good range of dive watches available in an alloy they call Super Titanium, known as the Promaster Tough series.
Microbrands have been using Titanium to create very reasonably priced watches for a few years now. Often choosing dive or adventure watches to highlight, there are many interesting options available.
A Citizen ProMaster Tough with a Titanium Case
RZE are a microbrand with an affordable range of Titanium Dive watches, such as this Endeavour in Azure Blue. It contrasts well with the grey titanium.
The Oris Pro Pilot has a Titanium Case and Bracelet and is super slim, avoiding the chunky stylings you see on Titanium Dive Watches
James Bond's Titanium Watch
Like many big Swiss brands, Omega has not been afraid to use titanium in their range, including Seamasters, Planet Ocean models, and even the smart Aqua Terra Ultra Light. It made sense for the latest James Bond watch to feature a Titanium case and Milanese strap, which makes it surprisingly smart and easy to wear. We have written about James Bond watches before, and recently held two James Bond watch events. If you don't really know what this fuss is about, this version of the Seamaster Professional 300 is well worth seeing up close.
The Omega Seamaster Professional No Time to Die James Bond Watch. Note the tianium Milanese mesh bracelet.
The Downside of Titanium Watch Cases
There is one downside to Titanium cases, and that is they are much harder to repair if they get scratched or damaged. Many local watch repair places or polishing places will not have the required tools, and you may need to return the watch to the manufacturer for repair. One way to avoid this is to look for grades of Titanium that are advertised as extra hard. Many people will of course see such marks or scratches as general wear and tear and part of the enjoyment of wearing a watch.
Titanium is one of many interesting case materials available in the watch world today. Its growing use across many different brands and price points gives you many options to explore. The Watch Collectors' Club exists to help you explore the watch world and if you have any further questions about Titanium watches just ask. If you'd like a personalised shortlist of Titanium watches then you can fill out our Watch Shortlist form, and mention your interest in Titanium, we can help find the right watch for you. We also run regular watch events where you might encounter a Titanium cased watch, we never know what people are going to be bringing along! You can find all the event details here.