Interestingly enough, as steel watches continue to be the new “hot ticket” in modern luxury watchmaking, another (arguably better) non-precious metal fails to garner the same level of attention. Stronger, lighter, and more difficult to work with than stainless steel, titanium watches appear less frequently in the market, and often don’t seem to get the level of praise they so desperately deserve. The material has a distinct and slightly more slate-like tone to it, but aesthetics aside it’s really a godsend for those who like larger case sizes without the added heft that would typically come along with it.
The Underappreciated Gems of Watchmaking
There have been several fantastic examples over the years, and below you’ll find a well-rounded pack that includes both obvious icons as well as lesser-known surprises.
Omega Seamaster Ploprof
Frankly I’d forgotten that this big bad beast was available in titanium, but the choice seems obvious in hindsight. The Ploprof is one serious chunk of dive watch, and in steel it weighs a ton on the wrist. Lightened via titanium, its 55 x 48mm casing is much less intrusive on the wrist, and paired with a grey dial and subtle orange accents, it’s a mighty fine looking dive watch if you aren’t afraid of being a little bold. Regardless of case material, its other key specs remain intact; it’s good for a water resistance of 1200m, and uses a unique and patented push-button lock release of its timing bezel.
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ011
Aside from overall value, one of the first things that people think of when they think ‘Grand Seiko’ is their beautifully hand-finished hands. Unfortunately what often gets overlooked is the keen attention to detail and quality that goes into their case and bracelet manufacturing, which is very often executed in titanium. To achieve such a perfect level of polishing, with hard edges meeting brushed finishing, is not an easy or inexpensive task, and time after time Grand Seiko just knocks it out of the park. Though the Spring-Drive SBGA211 (aka the “Snowflake”) would also have been an easy choice for this list, I’ve always had a soft spot for a well-executed GMT.
Linde Werdelin Oktopus II Blumoon
Though the brand has gone semi-dormant in the last year or so, Linde Werdelin has made some mighty cool watches over the years, including this fantastically modern take on the old-school moon phase complication. Its edgy angular titanium case houses a unique multi-layered and partially skeletonized dial, with its moon phase complication taking center stage between 4 and 8 o’clock. Only 59 of these gems were ever created, further adding to their unique cachet. Even in steel, these pieces are surprisingly light given their substantial dimensions, and thanks to a unique strap design, they wear incredibly well on the wrist. I personally own their older 3-Timer model, and am always surprised at how well/comfortably it fits.
Panerai Luminor 1950 Chrono Monopulsante 8-Days GMT Titanio
Casing any larger Panerai in lightweight titanium opens the watch up to a much broader audience, as the hefty pieces have a tendency to come across as a bit overbearing to those with more compact wrist sizes. In particular, this PAM737 that launched late in 2017 is already quite desirable considering it combines both a GMT and monopusher chronograph complication with an out-of-the-ordinary green dial, but add a lightweight titanium case to the equation and you’ve got a very desirable piece of hardware on your hands. Not to mention the fact that its hand-wound caliber is good for a power reserve of 8 days.
F.P. Journe Centigraphe Sport Titane
Cased in an anthracite PVD titanium, this Linesport deviant of the FP Journe Centigraphe is a bit of a polarizing watch, which is precisely why I’ve had such a soft spot for it. The brand’s line of sport-friendly watches are distinct in several ways, though most notably because of the rubberized coating used at all of the contact points on the case and bracelet–specifically designed to limit any friction points that could wear down its PVD coating. Unlike other Journe watches, the mainplates and bridges of its elegant hand-wound caliber are all crafted of aluminum, which is also incredibly uncommon in the industry. The combination of aluminum caliber and titanium casing make this watch an absolute featherweight on the wrist.
Breguet Type XX Transatlantique
The Type XX is a longstanding mainstay of the Breguet collection, though it is so often seen in steel or precious metals that you’d be forgiven if this titanium version comes as a bit of a surprise. The very heritage-driven piece features all of the iconic details of the Type XX including its unique case design, dial, hands, etc, though instead packaged in a brushed titanium casing and matching bracelet. Its steel counterpart features significantly more polishing on its case and bezel, which further differentiates the two models. As a daily-wearer/tool watch, I’m often one to shy away from things with extensive polishing, so this execution would easily be my go-to for something that can transfer from boardroom to more rugged and hands-on activities.