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Understanding Titanium Timepieces

As the watch industry reaches out of its own comfort zone and into the worlds of aviation, motorsports and other high-tech realms, a new breed of watches is emerging. That new breed is one where new materials come into play for watch cases, bracelets and even dials.

Ulysse Nardin Watch

Among the most frequently used alternative (to steel and the noble metals) materials on the market today are titanium, ceramic, carbon fiber, aluminum (aluminum alloys) and polycarbonate, or resin. Within each of these categories, the materials are not all treated equally. Over the coming weeks, we will delve more deeply into the differences, features and benefits of many of these materials, but today, we are focusing on titanium.

There are some distinct advantages to using titanium for cases and bracelets, but the most important has to do with the material’s weight and strength. In fact, when you pick up a titanium watch, the first thing you notice is how lightweight it feels compared to a steel watch. Sometimes, people mistake that lighter weight as being “inexpensive.” In fact, it is the opposite, because titanium is so tough, it is harder to mill than steel and therefore more expensive.


Titanium, a gray metal similar in look to steel, is found in earth and sand. The material is approximately 30 percent harder than steel and is about 50 percent lighter in weight than steel. It is also highly corrosion resistant—making it the prefect metal of choice for dive watches and other sport timepieces. Used predominantly in aviation and space fields, titanium was first brought to the forefront of the watch industry about 20 years ago. It makes a great watchcase and bracelet, as it is not affected by the elements (weather, temperature, etc.). Additionally, the material is hypoallergenic and can be recycled. Perhaps the only downside to titanium is that it scratches easily.