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What are the Best Affordable Titanium Watches?

Posted on September 21 2020

It may seem surprising to see Titanium used as a case material for affordable watches. Titanium isn’t normally seen as an affordable metal to work with. It’s expensive to produce and is usually chosen when performance is more important than cost. It has proven popular in the aerospace industry, dentistry and more recently in joint replacements. It has also proven popular in the manufacture of high-end watches. However, there are a number of affordable brands producing titanium watches.

Is Titanium a good metal to use in watches?


The appeal to watch manufacturers is obvious. Titanium is corrosion-resistant and 40% lighter than steel. That lower density means that the same sized watch case can feel significantly lighter than the stainless steel version - a feature that certainly appeals to some watch buyers. It is also extremely biocompatible - non-toxic to the human body. That makes it a good choice for jewellery and watches.

Do Titanium watches scratch easily?


Titanium is stronger than steel, has corrosion resistance similar to platinum and is so inert it has no reaction to our bodies. But how does it handle wear and tear? There’s some talk of titanium scratching easier than stainless steel, but the consensus is that any scuffing is very easy to remove due to the nature of the metal.

I find the look of titanium watches very appealing. For me, the darker colouring of Titanium and the dull finish work great on watches. Particularly on military and tool models. Stylistically, it sits somewhere between polished stainless steel and a black PVD finish. The look is of a rugged watch and the lighter weight is a bonus on a chunky piece.

Despite the higher production costs, some brands are releasing titanium watches that are firmly in the affordable category. The first I want to highlight is a Limited Edition model that recently grabbed my attention.

 

Rotary Heritage Titanium Watch

 

I recently took a closer look at high-street brand Rotary (more here). This was the watch that piqued my current interest.

Until I began my research I wouldn’t have expected to find this big brand producing a watch in a limited run of 300 pieces. What's more, the watch is an automatic, housed in a full titanium case.

What’s the story behind the Heritage Titanium?

Along with the other watches in the Heritage line, this watch was released to celebrate125 years of the company. Rotary have delved into their own archives for inspiration. The inspiration here has been the companies links to the British Army and the result is a vintage military style. The automatic movement is visible through the exhibition back and along with the titanium case, the watch is protected by a sapphire crystal.

It’s a little larger than vintage military watches, but that’s to be expected in today’s market. The spartan design works well and the Ox and Sword hands are a nice touch that adds a little design flair without diminishing the field watch aesthetic.

Remember, there’s only 300 of these in the world.

  • GB05249/04 Heritage Titanium
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Titanium
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Sturmanskie Gagarin Heritage

 

Yuri Gagarin cemented his place in history when he became the first human in space. His Vostok 1 made one orbit of Earth in April 1961. It was a significant victory for Soviet Russia and a personal victory for Gagarin, a model communist. Capitalist America was now clearly behind in the space race.

That 108-minute mission had provided a number of firsts, most importantly demonstrating that a human could survive in space and cope with the zero-gravity environment of space and the high speed of re-entry.

Gagarin wasn't just the first man in space. He was also the first man in space who needed a watch (more here).

Like some of the other technology used on the space race it may be a little surprising how simple this watch is. Produced by Sturmanskie in the First Moscow Watch Factory, this is a reasonably straightforward, three-handed, mechanical watch. Previously the watch had been issued to the Soviet Air Force and had no upgrades for use in space.

Stylistically it's a beautiful watch and one of the icons of Russian watch designs. It's spartan. Clean, simple and clearly an aviation watch. For that reason, it's remained popular and Sturmanskie have released a number of versions over the decades. Currently, they do this larger, titanium version as a part of their Gagarin Heritage line. Still, with a hand-winding Russian movement, there's now also the addition of a Gagarin portrait on the case back.

  • Sturmanskie Gagarin 2609-3747128
  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Titanium Case
  • Hand Winding mechanical movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 

Seiko SGG729P1 Titanium Watch

 

Seiko is one of the biggest watch producers on the planet. I feature them in every couple of articles as they produce such a diverse range of watches. There are a few Seiko titanium models to choose from, but I like this modestly sized piece. It’s a relatively simple design and fits with the tool watch aesthetic that works well with titanium's darker colouring.

With a diameter of 38mm, it may a little small for some. I find that the size works for me, particularly for military styled watches - they were historically small. The 20mm metal bracelet makes the watch a little more substantial and it includes a sapphire crystal, which is a nice touch for a watch at this price-point.

It’s powered by a Seiko quartz movement and comes with 100M water resistance. The overall package is that of a slim, lightweight, but reliable tool watch.

  • Seiko SGG729P1
  • 38mm Diameter
  • 8mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Titanium Case
  • Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Citizen Promaster Titanium Watch

 

Citizen needs no introduction. The Japanese giants make affordable, good quality watches that you’ll see on every high street. Mention Citizen and the first thought that comes to mind is Eco-Drive, the brand's solar technology that charges the watch through exposure to light. As expected, the field watch we’re interested in is part of the Eco-drive line.

This model from Citizen is one of a number with similar stylings, such as the AW0050-82E. The titanium case is a defining feature here. The full titanium construction makes for a rugged watch. Similarly, the bold numerals give the dial almost the look of an aviator, but that’s paired with a thick and knurled crown. Overall, the impression is of a tough, military-styled piece, with a chunky diameter of 42mm.

  • Citizen Promaster BN0118-55E
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • Titanium Case
  • Eco-Drive movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 

MWC Titanium G10 Watch

 

MWC (Military Watch Company) is a Swiss-based manufacturer who specialises in high-performance military watches. Some of their more popular timepieces are modern remakes of classic military watches. This includes the British Army G10, the Royal Navy W10, American military Vietnam era models and the GG-W-113.

This is one of the latest MWC G10 models from their Combat Elite range. As expected, it has a titanium case with 300m water resistance. If you’re familiar with MWC you’ll be aware that they do a variety of G10 models. This is one of their highest specification G10’s, making it one of the highest spec G10’s available anywhere.

It’s a true military watch and as such, doesn’t really complement a variety of dress styles. What it does is function as a tried and tested tool. The retro design is iconic and even if it doesn’t get worn on a daily basis, it’s a great watch to own. There’s much cheaper G10’s, but they don’t have a sapphire crystal, 300M water resistance, or a durable titanium case.

  • MWC T/G10/QZ/L/D
  • 40mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Titanium Case
  • Swiss quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 

Invicta Pro Diver 0420 Titanium Watch

 

Invicta - it’s Latin for invincible - is an American company with a large range of both quartz and mechanical watches. They’re usually powered by Japanese movements, although on occasion, they’ll use Swiss made.

The company is now American owned. But Invicta can trace its roots to Switzerland during the late 1880s. Its corporate headquarters are in Switzerland along with its customer service centre and its current president, who is a third-generation watchmaker, is Swiss.

The company's products are based largely around a stable of divers watches (more here). They are functional sports watches with features you would expect. Decent water resistance, rotating bezels, screw-down crowns and the like. The brand is renowned for high spec watches at an affordable price, and this Pro Diver is no exception.

It is powered by a Seiko automatic movement and has 200M water resistance. With the titanium case that makes for a lot of watch for well under £200. Yes, design-wise, there’s nothing original. But as a functional diver? It ticks all the boxes.

  • Invicta Pro Diver 0420
  • 45mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Titanium Case
  • Japanese NH35A automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 

Hamilton Field Titanium Auto Watch

 

Hamilton is a US brand with a fine history producing watches for the railroads, the US army as discussed here, and their marine chronometers that were used by both the US and Allied navies in WWII. Having ceased manufacturing watches in America in 1969 the company is now Swiss-owned – a part of the Swatch group of brands. Both its American heritage and Swiss ownership make this a well respected and popular brand that is usually available on the high street.

As one of the original manufactures of field watches the Hamilton range features a large selection of this style. This titanium model is amongst the best. It nails down everything a field watch should be. There are the subdued dial and darker titanium utilitarian case. Unlike some of their other models, there is no red-tipped second hand. This is a little more understated.

The brand heritage is important, but let’s not forget the specs. This watch is powered by a Swiss-made automatic movement, Hamilton’s own H10 calibre. That’s significant and one of the main reasons why this watch is priced significantly higher than some of the others.

  • Khaki Field Titanium Auto H70545550
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Titanium Case
  • Hamilton H-10 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Bertucci A-4T Aero 13401 Field Watch

 

Bertucci burst onto the watch scene with the 2004 release of the A-2T, their bestselling titanium field watch. From there the company released a series of similar styles, all sharing key attributes. The guiding principle was to make a watch for a customer who only wanted one watch. In the companies literature, they state that this one watch “would need to possess the qualities of durability, value, a singularity of purpose, and versatility. Designed to balance form and function, to be equally rugged and refined” (more here).

In practice, this means that there's a consistency to the Bertucci range. This single purpose has lead to a very strong house style.

The A-4T Aero Pilot blends WWII aviation-inspired design with a solid titanium matte finish case. It’s a distinctive and very vintage look. To complement the watch there is a period-authentic leather strap with removable post screw fasteners - they can be removed with a coin.

It’s a large, bold watch that successfully marries vintage styling with the brands own patented case design, to produce a watch that hints at the past while using modern watchmaking technology.

  • Bertucci A-4T Aero 13401
  • 44mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 46mm Lug Width
  • Titanium Case
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 

Traser Special Force 100 Watch

 

Traser is the brand founded by MB-Microtec, the inventors of GTLS illumination (more here). Initially, the brand supplied watches to the US military, producing 300,000 of its inaugural model, the P6500 Type 6. Swiss-based, the manufacturer has maintained that strong military heritage and to many that aesthetic will be the first they think of when discussing Traser tritium watches.

This special forces model is in that tradition. It’s a heavy duty, quartz watch, built to be bullet-proof. With that mind, everything you’d expect is there. A thick titanium case and bracelet, a sapphire crystal and respectable water resistance. And of course it has illumination that should last decades, provided by the tritium tubes that the company pioneered.

  • Traser Special Force 100 Herrenuhr 105485
  • 44mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Titanium Case
  • Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 

Vostok Europe Almaz Titanium Watch

 

In 2003 a joint venture between the Vostok Chistopol factory and Vilnius Koliz resulted in the launch of the Vostok-Europe brand. These watches are more modern than Russian Vostok watches and are designed for a Western Audience.

They're an independent company, not linked to Vostok in Russia.  All of Vostok Europe's watches are designed, constructed, assembled and tested in Vilnius, Lithuania.

As they put it, each watch is "designed to withstand the most rigorous conditions – from deep diving to space explorations. With watches tested in Dakar Rally, at the Deepest Cave in the World, to the edge of the atmosphere and beyond they don't just tell time, they tell a story".

The Almaz is large piece. At 47mm it’s the biggest on the list. It’s also thick. It’s a good example of a substantial watch - remember this also has a heavier mechanical movement - that uses a lighter titanium case to reduce the weight. The use of a leather strap also helps with the weight, and softens the watches overall appearance.

  • Vostok Europe Almaz NH35-320H263
  • 47mm Diameter
  • 17mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Titanium Case
  • Japanese automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

Conclusion

 

Tritium is a lightweight, durable and non-toxic metal, ideally suited to use in watches. However, it’s expensive. It’s lighter than steel, and just as strong. But not as cheap. Still, there are a number of watch manufacturers that have made affordable watches from this material - a mixture of sports, military and tool watch designs. The dark finish of the metal lends itself well to these styles.

Again, your thoughts are much appreciated.

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