As the field of horology continues to grow exponentially, more and more technologies from other fields are integrating into this wonderful “hobby” (so as not to say addiction.) Notably, performance materials are seeing expanding applications in all kinds of different watches.
Titanium is one that has been around since the ’70s, and one which has maybe even come to be taken for granted. Yet there are some concrete virtues that make it an ideal metal for watches.
In this guide, we will be reviewing the positive and negative aspects of titanium. We’ll also give our thoughts on titanium vs. steel, and how the different construction can make for very different timepieces.
Lastly, we’re bringing you our favorite five titanium watches available today. As always, feel free to use the following links to jump down the page:
Best Titanium Wristwatches
- F.P. Journe Linesport Automatic Reserve Titanium
- Grand Seiko “Snowflake” Heritage Collection Ref. SBGA211
- Panerai Luminor Due Ref. PAM0000728
- Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial Ref. 22.214.171.124.03.001
- TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5 Black Titanium Ref. WBD218A.FC6445
The latest metallurgic technology has all but ensured that titanium’s applications in watches are wildly varied. This has, of course, led to ever-more interesting timepieces for us watch enthusiasts to buy!
Our list of titanium wristwatches, along with our recap of each, certainly attests to this. If any particular model is calling out to you, you may use the links above to jump directly there. Otherwise, continue scrolling for the full read.
See Bespoke Unit’s Watch Reviews
Advantages & Disadvantages Of Titanium Watches
It’s well known that titanium has plenty of rigorous applications, including on aircraft and particularly in military settings. Subsequently, it’s not difficult to see why it would also prove useful in wristwatches which encounter consistent use and exposure to the elements.
The high-end material also tends to carry with it an elevated price tag over steel. So, is the higher cost justified? Let’s dive in…
Pro’s Of Titanium Watches
There’s various reasons why one would prefer titanium in their watch as opposed to steel.
First and foremost, the metal is significantly lighter than steel while being less dense. It’s also stronger than steel, and extremely resistant to corrosion.
This characteristic is particularly important in watches, as when they’re worn often, they come into contact with water, biochemicals (from your skin), and oxygen, among others. All of these can potentially react with the metal and compromise it, a situation no watch collector would ever want to find themselves in.
Magnetism is another concern for timepieces, and one which titanium watches mitigate with their anti-magnetic properties. They’re also hypoallergenic, a fact those with sensitivities to nickel will appreciate.
(Nickel is present in many stainless steel and precious metal alloys. It can therefore cause skin reactions to those who wear watches that contain it.)
This sure sounds like a lot of positives, but titanium is not widespread enough to indicate a complete eclipse of steel. So, what are the downsides?
Con’s Of Titanium Watches
As ideal a metal as titanium can seem for watch cases, it also comes with a couple of disadvantages.
The biggest issue with titanium lies with its hardness – it turns out that titanium scratches easier than steel. This fact is not often mentioned by watch manufacturers.
Watch brands try to alleviate these problems by coating the titanium. As we’ll see later, PVD coatings are common and effective.
Unfortunately, any additional material, particularly if it’s applied through specialized process, will only increase the cost to the consumer. This leads us to our next point, which is the price. Titanium is almost always more expensive than a steel equivalent, and therefore less accessible and more of a “premium” metal.
Lastly, there’s an aspect that will be a pro or a con depending on the wearer, this being the weight. Some individuals look forward to the feel of a heavy watch on the wrist, in fact they may even prefer it. With titanium, the difference in weight is absolutely noticeable and a potential deal-breaker.
Is Titanium Better Than Steel In Wristwatches?
Considering the points presented above, it is up to the individual who will be wearing the watch. Watches are personal and often emotional purchases, so a preference for titanium will vary from person to person.
Indeed, titanium can be considered a better metal than steel, but it all comes down to its application. Likewise, it will also depend on the style of watch in which it is used.
If nothing else, titanium is yet another metal that luxury watch brands are able to employ in their timepiece lineups. It generally bridges a price gap between steel and precious metal watches, giving more choice and therefore more power to the consumer. As watch buyers ourselves, it’s hard to argue against that.
Top Titanium Watches For Men
1. F.P. Journe Octa Sport Automatic Reserve Titanium [Luxury Titanium Wristwatch]
F.P. Journe is a brand most commonly associated with fine dress watches, gold movements, and traditional complications. So when Francois-Paul Journe decided to make a sports watch line, you better believe that everyone was watching and waiting.
As is customary, the luxury watch house did not disappoint with their latest iteration of the Octa Sport Line. This may be an understatement, though; the Octa Sport model line set the bar for what a luxury titanium watch should be.
Aside from the captivating aesthetics, the Octa Sport is constructed of high-grade titanium which has been PVD-coated to guard against the wristwatch’s most common enemy: scratches.
The construction also makes for an impressively lightweight watch, one which must be experienced to be understood. Much of this is due to the caliber that has been executed in aluminum, and which can be admired through the sapphire caseback.
Those fortunate enough to hold it will get to experience the unique feel of a Journe Octa Sport – a watch that is unimaginably light, and almost uncomfortably so at first.
The high-tech materials give a completely new character to the timepiece, making it seem like more than just a watch, and closer to a high-performance professional instrument.
- Brand – F.P. Journe
- Model – Octa Sport Automatic Reserve Titanium (See on F.P. Journe’s Site.)
- Case Construction – PVD-Coated Titanium
- Price – $44,100
2. Grand Seiko “Snowflake” Heritage Collection Ref. SBGA211 [Automatic Titanium Watch]
Grand Seiko is brand already known for implementing avant-garde movements in their timepieces. With this Snowflake SBGA211, they’ve also expanded their expertise to the case of the watch.
One of the most striking parts about this SBGA211 is the fact that, even though it’s crafted from Grand Seiko “high-intensity titanium”, the watch looks to be a steel piece even when close up. There’s no dark gray hue whatsoever. It’s only when the watch is held and worn that the weight difference becomes evident.
The case is characterized by the alternating finished on adjacent bevels, a trademark of Grand Seiko. It’s no surprise the brand continues employing this technique, as the different finishes alter the reflections that interact with the eye.
Overall, the watch is a beautiful specimen, and we haven’t even gotten to the best part. The SBGA211 has earned the Snowflake nickname from its dial. It’s a stark white with a beautiful texture that only gets better the more you look at it.
In fact, words will undoubtedly do it a disservice, so we’ll just leave it there and let the vanity pictures do the talking.
- Brand – Grand Seiko
- Model – Heritage Collection SBGA211 (See on Grand Seiko’s Site.)
- Case Construction – High-Intensity Titanium
- Price – $5,800 [Shop On Amazon]
3. Panerai Luminor Due Ref. PAM00728 [Titanium Dress Watch]
Although the design inspiration of the Luminor 1950 case is directly drawn from the established Luminor watch family, there’s some significant differences setting the Luminor Due PAM728 apart.
It can almost be said that the PAM728 is everything that a normal Panerai Luminor is not.
First of all, the watch case is very sleek. The welded lugs are still present, as is the patented crown guard, but both have been redrawn in smaller, more delicate configurations.
The case is also slimmer. This is mainly due to the in-house, hand-wound, 3-day power reserve Panerai caliber. It ensures the case maintains a thin profile, and helps the watch spill over into the dress watch category.
There’s also the alluring sunburst blue dial, and the “sausage” style hour indices that match the gold center hands perfect. There is an essence of elegance in this Luminor Due that contrasts starkly against the diver watches that Panerai is renowned for.
Lastly, there’s the case, whose true construction is at first unknown. It’s undoubtedly titanium once in the hand, but not from a far. The look and finish scream steel, as does the lack of dark gray color seen in most titanium.
Yet this is clearly the intention of the Italian watchmaker. A dark hue would have taken away from the classy look of the watch, changing its aesthetic profile completely. To this effect, an ideal titanium dress watch has been created, and one who’s success is sure to set precedent for Officine Panerai moving forward.
- Brand – Panerai
- Model – Luminor Due (See on Panerai’s Site.)
- Case Construction – Brushed Titanium
- Price – $8,600
4. Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial Ref. 126.96.36.199.03.001 [Titanium Dive Watch]
Omega is no stranger to titanium creations, nor to coupling the metal with lustrous golds. They’ve even offered titanium / rose gold in previous Seamaster models.
Although the Seamaster 300 we highlight here is not a completely innovative creation, we think it’s a perfect example of how the brand can take a classic model and elevate it with premium materials.
The case is the modern Seamaster 300 case, already beautiful in its own right, but this time crafted of high-grade titanium. It possesses a slight tinge of darkness, particularly in the brushed bracelet parts, that could allude to its true makeup. Otherwise, the high polish allows it to resemble steel almost completely.
Then there’s the lustrous 18K Omega Sedna gold found in the bracelet, bezel, crown, and center hands. This choice of rose gold is truly what makes this model. It blends with the blue dial, blue ceramic bezel, and the “vintage” Super-LumiNova indices impeccably.
Not merely a visually lavish timepiece, this Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial boasts all the same specs of Omega’s trademark dive watch. Consequently, it’ll allow anyone to hit the beach, as well as the depths, without having to sacrifice the luxurious look.
- Brand – Omega
- Model – Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial 41mm (See on Omega’s Site.)
- Case Construction – Titanium & Sedna Gold
- Price – $15,000
5. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5 Black Titanium Ref. WBD218A.FC6445 [Black Titanium Watch]
As of recent, TAG Heuer has evolved from their heritage of historic chronographs and gained popularity as a progressive, daring, and exciting brand making timepieces that are, simply put, very cool watches.
Luckily, this evolution in horological expertise has not been manifested in the asking prices of their pieces, or at least not yet.
This means that we’re able to see watches like this Aquaracer Calibre 5 with a PVD-coated and sandblasted titanium case for under $5,000. There are many other watch brands who could produce a similar timepiece, charge double, and still find success in dealer showcases.
Aside from the expertly executed titanium case are carbon fiber elements making for an even more intriguing watch. Namely, the bezel insert and dial, both crafted from the performance material. Moreover, accenting the dial are rose gold plated indices with luminous fills.
Overall, TAG Heuer has put forth an outstanding, attractive, and high-tech sports watch in the Calibre 5 Black Titanium. And while there are three version in this Carbon Collection, we think this rose gold variation is the best, and could even make for a fancy titanium field watch.
If that’s what you’re into, anyways. If not, the 300m depth rating will take care of you just as well through most underwater adventures.
- Brand – TAG Heuer
- Model – Aquaracer Calibre 5 (See on TAG Heuer’s Site.)
- Case Construction – Sandblasted Titanium w/ Black PVD Coating
- Price – $4,050
More Guides & Articles
We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of the various titanium offerings that are out there. After reading this resource, you should come away with a better understanding of titanium, a case metal that’s often seen as just a “more expensive steel”.
As we encountered on this page, there’s various different aspects that could make a titanium timepiece the right one for you. And if nothing else, we hope we’ve armed you with the necessary information to make the right choice when you go to purchase your next timepiece.
Let us know in the comments what you thought of our picks, or if any of them seemed unfitting for you. Also feel free to check out our other watch pages if you’re still hungry for watch reads:
- The Best Slim Watches For Men (2019)
- Moonphase Watches: What Are They & Which Are The Best Ones?
- Harmonical Horology – The Mystery Of Minute Repeater Watches
- Officine Panerai Factory Tour In Neuchâtel, Switzerland
- Bespoke Unit Watch Homepage
"Titanium is the perfect choice for any watch collector looking for an upgrade from steel. The watches on this shortlist also prove that high-tech in horology doesn't necessarily have to mean high-price."Rating: 5.0★★★★★