Watchmakers are turning to alternative materials in increasing numbers, to the point that it’s easy to find a titanium or ceramic watch from most major watch brands these days. Stainless steel is still king, but top-tier watch brands are proving that great timepieces can be made from almost anything. Here’s a quick look at three popular watch materials.
The ceramics used in watches are different from those in the casserole dish in your kitchen cabinet. The exact composition of ceramics varies between watches and watchmakers, but many of the desirable properties remain the same. Ceramic is much harder than steel, making it much less likely to scratch. That durability is the same reason why Rolex uses ceramics in its watch bezels, as they are less likely to fade over time. A ceramic watch can also be helpful for people with metal allergies. There are no coatings, chemicals, or metals, making them easier on the skin.
Titanium is a strong, super lightweight metal that offers great corrosion resistance and durability. The material is darker than stainless steel, with a flat grey color that makes it instantly recognizable as “not steel.” Though it’s light and strong, titanium is softer than steel, making it more prone to scratches. On the upside, titanium is easy to polish back to its original state. It’s also hypoallergenic, as the metal develops a layer of oxide over time that does not react with skin or cause rashes.
Stainless steel is one of the most common metals used in modern luxury matchmaking today. It’s a flexible material that takes a variety of finishes, which makes it idea for use in watches of all types. It’s a strong and durable metal, and while it’s not the most lightweight material for watchmaking, its toughness is a major selling point. Some brands have developed proprietary metal alloys or blends that offer special characteristics, such as Rolex’s Oystersteel, which promises great corrosion resistance and a unique shine.