Strong, lightweight, and impressively corrosion-resistant; on paper, you’d think titanium would make for the most popular material in the realm of mechanical watchmaking.
And yet, despite the stuff being around for more than 50 years, stainless steel has remained almost everyone’s favourite metal, leaving titanium criminally underrated. Until now.
There’s a solid argument to be made that 2023 was the year of the titanium watch — or at least the first that it’s started to gather properly widespread recognition — and there’s no reason to think more watch manufacturers won’t follow suit in 2024. More specifically, I counted three pieces that represented a shift towards the mainstream’s adoption of titanium; which were all at different price points, offering slightly different propositions.
These included the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium (one of the most talked-about reveals of the year); and the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph (a remarkable value proposition compared to its competitors). But it was the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 RLX Titanium that really made a statement about the daily comfort and functionality of the metal (which isn’t technically even Rolex’s first titanium model) but certainly its most wearable.
We’ve seen plenty of other brands produce a titanium watch here and there over the years. Watches like the future classic Bulgari Octo Finissimo, the Hermès H08 Blue Titanium Edition, A. Lange & Söhne’s sporty Odysseus, the Longines Spirit Titanium, and even the popular Omega Seamaster Diver 300M ‘No Time To Die’ 007 Edition.
But with household names the likes of Rolex, IWC, and TAG Heuer now fully aboard the titanium bandwagon, I wager it’ll be impossible for watch enthusiasts to ignore the now-broad-spectrum appeal of this metal. This anticipated demand is likely to see other brands get on the front foot and produce their own titanium watches: hopefully, giving more variety to buyers and setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy.
From personal experience, one watch I knew I had to get as soon as I saw it was the Tudor Pelagos 39, and after a year of ownership it might be one of the top three watches I’ve ever owned.
It’s incredibly comfortable on the wrist — especially with the option of a rubber strap to make your wearing experience even lighter — and while it’s gathered a few scratches these certainly aren’t as deep or obvious when comparing with my steel watches (another of titanium’s greatest practical advantages).
As far as pricing goes, it’s probably unsurprising that the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 RLX Titanium ($22,600) and IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 Titanium ($21,700) rank as the most costly. Never fear, though: the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph is a much more approachable option ($4,450), as is Tudor’s aforementioned Pelagos 39 ($6,940).
Meanwhile, cult-y independent Unimatic released a pair of titanium special editions last year, which topped out at an RRP of $1,800 — and proved you don’t need a bank loan to own a titanium watch.
That said, there’s a likely possibility that we’re about to see a few more titanium watches arriving on the market in 2024; so if you wanted to keep your powder dry for the time being, more power to you.
No matter how much you love your stainless steel divers or your precious metal dress watches, owning a titanium timepiece is guaranteed to give you an entirely new perspective on the ideal proportions and dimensions of a watch. So if you’ve got a milestone coming up later this year — or, like much of the Boss Hunting team, you’re simply a slave to the hobby — check out a couple of titanium watches before you pull the trigger on yet another stainless steel number.
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