Titanium watches enjoy great popularity alongside watches made of steel (such as 316L stainless steel). Therefore, it is not surprising that numerous watch manufacturers have, for example, diving watches or chronographs made of this material in their collection. This article will therefore take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of wristwatches made of titanium. You will also learn what titanium actually is, what properties it has and how it is manufactured.

What is titanium?

Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti in the chemical periodic table and belongs to the transition metals. Chromium, silver, gold, iron, nickel, copper and zinc also belong to this group. With a density of 4.5 g/cm³, titanium just barely belongs to the group of light metals (up to 5 g/cm³) and has the best strength-to-density ratio in this group. Titanium has a metallic white shine, is robust, biocompatible, resistant, and temperature- and corrosion-resistant. It is also very light, weighing about half of steel or nickel alloys of the same dimensions.

Because of these properties, titanium is a very interesting material that is used in various industries such as aerospace, chemistry, medicine and, of course, in the jewelry and watchmaking industries.

Titanium history

In the 18th century titanium was discovered twice within a few years: The first time in 1791 in the valley Menaccan in Cornwall by the English clergyman and amateur chemist William Gregor in the mineral ilmenite (FeTiO3 – titanium iron). Gregor first called the mineral menaccanite. The second time titanium was discovered was in 1795 by the German chemist Heinrich Klaproth in the mineral rutile (TiO2 – titanium dioxide). Klaproth gave the new metal the name titanium. He was inspired by the Titans of Greek mythology – these were the first children of the gods Uranos (heaven) and Gaia (earth).

In 1797, it was finally recognized that both minerals were the same metal, and although Klaproth discovered titanium later, his name prevailed.

Titanium production

Titanium is one of the 10 most common elements found in the earth’s crust, but mostly only in combination with oxygen. Since pure titanium hardly ever occurs in the earth, it has to be extracted from rutile (TiO2) or ilmenite (FeTiO3) in a complex, costly and energy-intensive process involving several steps. Of the earthly minerals and ores, these two are particularly suitable for the production of metallic titanium. Currently, a total of about 140 minerals and ores are known to contain titanium. Outside the planet Earth, however, titanium has also been found in meteorites and on the Earth’s moon.

The complex manufacturing process and the difficult processing of the metal are the reasons for the higher price compared to stainless steel. The manufacturing process usually takes place in two steps: First, titanium sponges are produced using the Kroll process and then pure titanium or titanium alloys are produced from these titanium sponges by multiple remelting, if small amounts of other chemical elements are also added to the titanium.

Titanium watches vs stainless steel watches

Titanium watches offer many advantages due to their material, but also disadvantages compared to watches made of stainless steel. Which exactly these are will be clarified in the following paragraphs!

Advantages of titanium watches

The biggest advantages of titanium watches are that they are lightweight, corrosion resistant and anti-allergenic. The material itself also looks very noble, feels valuable and is very robust. But let’s take a closer look at the individual advantages of titanium vs. stainless steel:

Titanium watches are particularly light

With a density of 4.5 g/cm3, titanium (unlike stainless steel) belongs to the group of light metals and has the best strength-to-density ratio of all light metals. This means that titanium, for example, does not dent so easily, unlike the light metal aluminum.

By way of comparison, a piece of titanium weighs about half as much as a piece of 316L stainless steel of the same size (8 g/cm3). A piece of aluminum (approx. 2.7 g/cm3), in turn, weighs a good half as much as a piece of titanium of the same size. A watch whose case is made of titanium is therefore significantly lighter and more comfortable to wear than a steel watch of the same size. Models made of titanium are ideal as sports watches thanks to their lighter weight and greater wearing comfort.

Titanium watches are corrosion resistant and robust

Titanium is not only particularly light, but also insensitive to chloride solutions, organic acids (e.g. contained in sweat) and seawater. Its corrosion resistance is roughly equivalent to that of V4A stainless steel. Watches with a case and bracelet made of titanium can therefore be worn in swimming pools, open-air swimming pools and in the sea without hesitation (provided they are suitably waterproof). Titanium cannot rust because as soon as it comes into contact with oxygen, an oxide layer forms on the material, which reliably protects it from corrosion.

Titanium watches are anti-allergenic

However, this oxide layer not only protects the titanium surface from corrosion, but this layer also means that the allergy potential is very low. Watches with titanium cases and titanium bracelets are therefore particularly suitable for allergy sufferers.

Titanium (alloy) watches are less susceptible to scratches than stainless steel models

The purer the titanium, the softer it is. Contact with oxygen and the resulting oxide layer also makes titanium somewhat more scratch-resistant than stainless steel. To make titanium even more resistant to scratches, a small amount of other metals (e.g. aluminum) can also be added to it. These so-called alloys then combine the good properties of both metals. A titanium alloy is then harder than pure titanium, for example.

Disadvantages of titanium watches

Besides all these advantages, titanium watches also have a few disadvantages.

Titanium watches can also scratch

Depending on the alloy and the oxide layer, titanium watches are harder than stainless steel watches, but not scratch-resistant. For this reason, some watch manufacturers additionally seal the surface of their watches so that it becomes even more insensitive.

Titanium watches are more expensive than stainless steel watches

The elaborate manufacturing process and the complicated processing of the material naturally has its price, which is why titanium watches are usually more expensive than comparable watches made of stainless steel. Nevertheless, titanium watches are still significantly cheaper than luxury watches made of gold or platinum.

Titanium watches are not as variable as stainless steel watches

Unlike models made of steel, which can be matte or shiny depending on the processing, titanium watches naturally have a silver-gray, matte and relatively characteristic appearance, which makes them not as variable in finishing (e.g. polishing or brushing) as, for example, watches made of stainless steel.

Titanium watches are (too) light

What is an advantage for some is a disadvantage for others: some watch wearers find the light weight of a titanium watch on the wrist irritating, while others like the comfort of wearing lightweight watches.

The titanium diving watches from Circula

For more variety in our watch range, we at Circula have developed a titanium diver watch, the DiveSport.

The features of Circula titanium diver watch are as follows:

  • Case and back made of titanium grade 2, scratch resistant up to 1,200 Vickers thanks to surface hardening.
  • Dimensions: 42 mm diameter, 48.5 mm lug to lug, approx. 13 mm height and 20 mm lug width
  • Unidirectional rotating diver’s bezel with 120 click and Swiss Super-LumiNova® C3 X1
  • Titanium or aluminum bezel inlay (on the petrol-colored model)
  • Rough textured dial (black & grey) or scratch pattern dial (petrol & yellow)
  • Hands and indexes are filled with Swiss Super-LumiNova® BGW9 & C3 X1
  • 500 meters water resistant
  • Screw down crown
  • Swiss self-winding movement, caliber Sellita SW200-1 Elaboré
  • Integrated rubber strap with quick release system and optional hardened titanium bracelet available.

Details on privacy policy can be found here. Cancellation is possible at any time.

Every watch collection should contain at least one watch made of titanium

Due to their special and characteristic design, lightness and the associated wearing comfort, as well as corrosion resistance and suitability for allergy sufferers, timepieces made of titanium should not be missing in any watch lover’s collection, despite the somewhat higher cost (compared to stainless steel). With the selection of watches made of titanium, it certainly does not remain only with one titanium watch…

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