Titanium watches have a distinct advantage over stainless steel, platinum and gold-filled timepieces. Titanium is a light-weight metal that is highly resistant to corrosion, making it a suitable metal for outdoor, sports-style use. Perhaps the most common use of titanium in timepieces is for dive watches, which are not affected in extended use in saltwater or in extreme weather conditions.
Stronger than Steel
Titanium is a silver-gray metal found in igneous rocks and sand deposits. It’s 30 percent stronger than steel, yet nearly 50 percent lighter. Until the 1970s, it was used almost exclusively in aviation and space craft construction. Exposed to the atmosphere, titanium properties form an oxide film that resists corrosion, according to Timezone.com.
The durability of titanium did not lead to lead an explosion of watches manufactured with the metal, but rather for its color. White metals, such as stainless steel and platinum, enjoyed a surge in popularity over gold-plated watches in the first decade of the 21st century. Titanium not only fit in with the new watch styles, but its properties made it marketable for outdoor wear.
The primary advantage of a titanium watch is its strength and light weight. A titanium watch case can be abused, but it won’t crack. It can be exposed to salt water and salt air without corroding. A titanium watch is comfortable to wear because it’s light on the wrist. It’s not affected by extreme temperatures and remains comfortable even when the skin perspires under the case, according to Timezone.com and Europastar.com.
Titanium is more expensive than stainless steel. It scratches easily, but Citizen Holdings Company, which has an extensive line of titanium products, seals its titanium watches with a glass coating to make them more resistant to scratches. Titanium also has a tendency to rip when its being machined, like delicate paper that rips when someone tries to cut it with a pair of scissors. Two pieces of titanium when pressed tightly together over a long period of time also have a tendency to fuse to each other, making periodic removal of the back of the watch necessary.
Although titanium can cost more to manufacture than stainless steel, it often can be found as the primary metal component in moderately priced watches in which the watchmaker places an emphasis on durability and case construction over the mechanical or electronic movement. Pilot, dive and outdoor survivalist watches are increasingly being constructed with titanium as buyers recognize that its advantages live up to the marketing. As an outdoor watch featuring titanium construction, it’s also considered environmentally friendly because it can be recyclable.
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Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.