Though the emergence of smartphone and tablet devices have arguably made wristwatches a redundant accessory in some circles, they are certainly not considered as such among older individuals with active lifestyles, or on-the-go business professionals with no time for constant use of smart devices. From a fashion perspective, a quality wristwatch is an essential component of any smart-looking ensemble, which is important for distinguishing yourself from the rest of the pack.
If you’re in the market for a new watch, you’re reading the right article. In this post, we discuss everything you need to know about two of the most popular manufacturing materials in the world of quality timepieces: stainless steel and titanium.
Why use stainless steel?
Stainless steel is a material with a very high degree of resistance to corrosion. It’s composed mostly of iron, but also commonly contains other elements to prevent degradation. It was originally developed in the late 19th century and is popular because of its pitting and corrosion resistance, which was superior to other common metals like bronze, brass or copper.
In order to enhance its durability, many manufacturers add other elements like nickel or chromium to stainless steel. Chromium is the most common element used with it since it also prevents rusting and tarnishing of the metal by acting as a barrier between oxygen and water. In addition, chromium can also offer resistance against many different chemicals and acids.
What about titanium?
Titanium is a light, strong metal with low toxicity in its natural form. It is non-magnetic and has a high melting point, low electrical and thermal conductivity, and a high strength-to-density ratio.
Titanium is resistant to corrosion in sea water and many acids, all of which are properties that make it desirable for use in a variety of applications. For instance, titanium can be used for medical implant devices where its biocompatibility makes it ideal for long-term wear and tear. The same property also makes it ideal for constructing aircraft components such as the delta wing, which allows aircrafts to be lighter than if conventional materials were used.
While watches have been made using stainless steel for much longer than they have with titanium, more and more major watch manufacturers are pioneering the step forward within the industry. Some of the most popular contemporary men’s watches like the Victorinox INOX is made primarily with titanium, and is both stylish and tough enough for all-day viability across a variety of lifestyles.
Are stainless steel watches sliding into obsolescence? Not at all; despite the plethora of upsides to titanium, stainless steel has a number of its own advantages that set it apart as practical and viable among specific consumers. Let’s compare various pros and cons between stainless steel and titanium watches, as well as why they should factor into your considerations when shopping for your ideal timepiece.
Advantages of Stainless Steel Watches
Stainless steel is more durable than aluminum or gold, metals commonly used in watches. It is rustproof, water-resistant and does not lose elasticity. The water-resistant and rustproof qualities of stainless steel watches are thanks to the fact that the metal does not oxidize. Its maintained elasticity and ability to be reshaped over-and-over means you can always add new links if needed, without compromising durability. This is why stainless steel watches have such great resale value.
Stainless steel doesn’t trigger allergic reactions, regardless of how sensitive the wearer’s skin might be. Furthermore, the metal is smooth and doesn’t easily catch on to clothing. Stainless steel watches don’t need to be cleaned with any specially formulated watch cleaner because it’s also resistant to oils secreted by the skin, which minimizes buildup.
Stainless steel is a popular choice for both men’s and women’s watches. It keeps perfect time and will withstand all kinds of wear and tear with ease, meaning it won’t be dying before you decide to upgrade.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Watches
Stainless steel isn’t considered an environmentally friendly material by today’s standards due to its production process. Though some stainless steel items are made with recycled metal, quality timepieces are mostly ore-based, meaning that the production process involves unifying iron ore and coal in a blast furnace.
In addition, if you wear a stainless steel watch everyday without removing it, you’ll find that after a year or more, the skin may grow dark around the band where it makes contact with your wrist. The material is also prone to scratches on its surface if not taken care of properly.
Stainless steel watches can easily be worn with casual or work wear during the day. Unfortunately, since they don’t have the sophisticated finish of watches available in gold, platinum or titanium they won’t work well with evening gowns, dress suits or other formal wear.
Advantages of Titanium Watches
Titanium watches are tough and durable, with low risk of scratching. They are also lighter than steel watches, so they’re more comfortable to wear. Titanium watches have been used in high-end fashion for years, including by luxury watch brands like Rolex.
Titanium is known for giving the ideal mix of lightweight wearability and strength, so it’s a great option for watches, rings and bracelets. This high quality metal is used in everything from airplanes to plumbing.
Titanium watches do not require a significant amount of maintenance and have excellent corrosion resistance. Titanium’s durability allows owners to easily sell unwanted pieces to a collector before upgrading to the newest model. Even secondhand owners can rest easy knowing that their timepiece will last as long as possible with minimal maintenance.
Disadvantages of Titanium Watches
One of the primary disadvantages to titanium timepieces is that they are significantly more expensive than stainless steel watches. The average price for new titanium watches remains rather steep for consumers on a budget, whether they’re from the current season or an older model. Even non-luxury brand titanium watches are only available at a considerable markup, and are at a minimum multiple times the price of stainless steel watches.
Unlike with stainless steel watches, companies that work with titanium are not as concerned with affordability as they are with quality and style. Though being low-maintenance and durable make titanium watches a worthwhile investment, their average price point makes them near unattainable for the average salaryman or young adult. Collectors are almost always in the market to snatch up an outdated piece, but titanium watches do not appreciate with time, unlike gold or platinum watches.
Mining titanium ore requires stripmines, but the titanium metal itself is relatively harmless to the environment. The process becomes environmentally harmful during the refinement process which requires large quantities of chlorine.