Eight Watches That Look Best In Titanium — Featuring Longines, Grand Seiko, Omega, And G-Shock
Luxury is heavy, and functionality is light. If that’s true, the battle of gold versus titanium has an easily predictable outcome. Still, isn’t great comfort also a luxury? And when titanium is not only used for its lack of weight but also for its special hue, the mythical transition metal that was discovered in 1791 by English clergyman and mineralogist William Gregor and named after the sons of the Earth Goddess, known as the Titans, has surprising aesthetical qualities. Sometimes watches in titanium “outshine” their counterparts made in other (precious) metals. Here are eight watches that look best in titanium, a shortlist to (hopefully) enjoy and (probably) debate.
This is not an update to Jorg’s selection of the best currently available titanium watches that he curated in November 2022. This is a shortlist of eight watches that look best in titanium. In other words, these are watches that come in different versions, with titanium being one. Absent from the list will be three titanium watches that are the source of inspiration — the latest version of the Rolex Yacht-Master 42, the 38mm Certina DS Action Diver, and the 2023 IWC Ingenieur. Still, it was easy for me to find a string of titanium watches that I appreciate and desire, something that is frowned upon by some at Fratello. Somehow, titanium is not only a transition metal — an unstable one that displays transitional behavior between the extreme left s-block elements on the periodic table and the extreme right p-block elements — but also a polarizing one.
Watches that look best in titanium: Grand Seiko SBGJ255
As I said, titanium is not an alloy universally embraced among Fratello contributors. I kind of get it. Sometimes the lack of weight combined with a lack of proper finishing leads to a flimsy, dull, very gray, and even dreary result. But when it’s done right, titanium shines, both literally and figuratively. The best example is quite possibly the Grand Seiko SBGJ255 (€8,500). The SBGJ255 is a 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 GMT in titanium.
The SBGJ255 is a limited edition of 1,200 pieces that comes in a 40 × 14mm case. It’s an homage to one of the greatest watch case designs of all time, the 1967 44GS. And who would have guessed that the angular shapes and flat surfaces would look so stunning in titanium? GS uses a specific titanium alloy with a Vickers hardness of about 300–350 — FYI, stainless steel has a hardness of 180–200. This special titanium can be polished, as opposed to Grade 2 titanium. And Grand Seiko did just that by using its famous Zaratsu polishing method. The result is a very bright and light shine that also has good scratch-resistant properties.
And yes, the watch is also light. The comparable SBGJ201 “Mt. Iwate” (€6,900) in steel weighs 159 grams, and the scale reads “107 grams” when you put the titanium SBGJ255 on it — it’s 32.7% lighter. The 23.18% higher price of the titanium SBGJ255 over the steel SBGJ201 is worth it, in my opinion, because the superior overall look and feel of the watch cannot be expressed in percentages.
Longines Spirit 40mm: the most contemporary one
I could have picked the titanium version of the Longines Avigation BigEye that Jorg mentioned in his article because that’s the one for me also. But instead, I opted for the Spirit in a 40mm Grade 5 titanium case. With the 40 × 12mm Spirit (L3.810.1.53.2 / €3,000), Longines has hit the jackpot. Size-wise, it’s hard to beat, and with a weight of 60.1 grams on a NATO strap, it’s also pretty light.
But if you ask me, this watch’s weight is not its USP. Rather, it is the series of great details that lift the titanium version above its steel counterparts. The combination of the grayish hue of the brushed and polished case with a sandblasted anthracite dial showing rose-tone details looks both rich and functional. The Spirit is a contemporary take on the classic pilot’s watch, and this version is the perfect example in the collection.
Casio G-Shock MRG-B5000B-1DR: titanium beats plastic
Molded resin is not as durable as machined titanium. But if Casio had made the very first G-Shock DW-5000C in titanium instead of plastic, 1983 would have been both the first and the last year of the G-Shock concept. The thing is, molded resin is way cheaper, and it does the trick to create a nearly indestructible watch for the masses. The MRG-B5000B-1DR is an ultra-luxurious version of the first “Square.” It’s made in an alloy that Casio calls TranTixxii titanium with a bezel in Cobarion, a metal alloy that’s roughly four times harder than pure titanium.
The MRG-B5000B-1DR has the looks of the first G-Shock model but is also nothing like it. For example, it has a price of €4,000. It’s the construction of the watch that raises the price astronomically. The bezel alone consists of 25 different components, each individually polished for a sublimely detailed texture. The MRG-B5000B-1DR also has a Multi-guard Structure that incorporates flat springs and silicone buffers into the multi-component bezel, ensuring outstanding shock absorption to protect the dedicated MR-G module with a gold-plated retainer plate. Just like the DW-5000C, the MRG is black. But the polished sheen and DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating of the MRG-B5000B-1DR results in a brilliant black color with a mirror finish. The titanium Square is for those who bought the original, have done well in life, and are now able to celebrate life and the love for G-Shocks in an outrageous yet understated way.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 6000M Ultra Deep: the ultimate sea monster
The full name of this watch is Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 6000M Co-Axial Master Chronometer 45.5mm Ultra Deep (126.96.36.199.01.001). This deep-diving sea monster can be had in either O-Megasteel or titanium. Now, you do need fairly deep pockets for these special Seamasters. The steel model (188.8.131.52.03.001) on a rubber strap costs €13,300, and the titanium version has a price of €14,700. Both watches boast an official ISO 6425 certification, the standard for saturation divers’ watches, and have a 45.5 × 18.1mm case. But there are differences. The most obvious one is the difference in weight. The steel watch weighs 170 grams and the titanium one just 123 grams.
And if the weight doesn’t swing the balance in favor of the titanium Ultra Deep, the aesthetics will. The steel version shows regular lugs, making it possible to wear it on a rubber strap or a steel bracelet — the watch will weigh a hefty 254 grams when you do the latter. The titanium model, however, has manta-ray fixed lugs. The instrumental, dark gray color of the case, the shapely yet very functional lugs, and the bright blue details scream, “I AM SPECIAL!” Something with “Ultra” in the name should be as special as possible, and the titanium version is definitely the most special Seamaster Planet Ocean 6000M Ultra Deep out there.
A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus: full satisfaction
It was 2019 when A. Lange & Söhne dropped the Odysseus. It was spectacular because it was a steel watch — not the alloy of choice for the brand located in Glashütte — and because it targeted Nautilus and Royal Oak wearers. This first Lange for the weekend got a successor a year later in white gold, but the best one so far is most definitely the 2022 Odysseus in titanium. The latest and greatest Odysseus is an all-titanium affair, meaning both the 40.5 × 11.11mm case and the bracelet are executed in superbly finished titanium. Not only is the watch 43% lighter than the all-steel debutant, but it also looks 43% better, at least!
The contrast between the gray shades of the brushed and polished surfaces is very distinct. And it’s the bracelet that profits most from the alternating finishes. The integrated, sculpted, five-link bracelet design starts very wide and tapers down very elegantly, but what looks best is the play of light on the polished surfaces of the links. There’s more contrast here than on the steel version, and the result is dramatically dynamic. It’s not very Lange, but it is very cool. And if that’s not enough, the ice-blue dial, with its grained structure and sophisticated fine guilloché grooves on the hour ring, outshines the dark blue and gray dials of the other two versions with great ease.
In total, 250 Odysseus watches in titanium were made, and 250 were sold for a price of €55,000. And none of those 250 watches are on sale on Chrono24 at the moment. The titanium Odysseus must be a most satisfying creation since it could probably do twice the list price on the secondary market.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Monobalancier Titanium: King Arthur approves
Even legends get older. If King Arthur had gotten the chance to wield Excalibur in titanium instead of drastically heavier forged steel, he would have chosen that option. Anyway, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur MB Titanium 42 (€71,500) isn’t necessarily much lighter than the Excalibur MB Black Ceramic. It is, however, much lighter in another sense. The black version with its black leather strap is quite a conspicuous affair, one that’s very ornamental and heavy on the eye. The Grade 5 titanium version with its matte sheen, on the other hand, is way more understated. You could even say it looks a bit like a “normal” watch now.
The Poinçon de Genève-certified Excalibur MB Titanium is outfitted with a delicately crafted five-link bracelet with short links that reveal shiny, polished bevels. The finishing makes for a lively appearance, and it also offers a comfortable fit. However, if you ask me, the best thing is that the somewhat-odd triple lugs now completely integrate into the bracelet. As a result, the new titanium Excalibur is by far the easiest to wield of all the watches Roger Dubuis has in its arsenal.
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT: watch in the city
The architectural qualities of the Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT work best in titanium (€20,900). The 42mm watch that’s just 6.9mm thick takes its design cues from the Eternal City. And somehow, the gray tones of sandblasted titanium together with the many facets seem to capture the three-dimensionality of Rome best. Titanium stays close to the marble, granite, and concrete seen in the city. All the other alloys seem to lack that visual connection.
And the best titanium Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT is the 10th Anniversary model with its dial showing a drawing by the design director of Bvlgari, Fabrizio Buonamassa.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team: pilot in swim trunks
Propeller planes evolved into jet planes. And that’s why I prefer an IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 in titanium over the ones in traditional steel and even the one in high-tech Ceratanium (I’m sorry, but I refuse to mention the pink gold and bronze versions). The great thing about the online-exclusive IW388114 — that’s an easier-to-remember name than IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Miami Pink Edition — is the implementation of color. The splashes of Petronas green on the black dial matches the Grade 5 case with its blasted matte surfaces and thin, polished accents very nicely. You also get two straps in pink and Petronas green for that super hot, beach-ready look.
In steel with a black dial, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is a classic, but it’s also borderline dreary. And with shiny green and blue dials, the watch loses its credibility as a pilot’s tool. I do like the stealthy look of the Ceratanium IW388106, but that one goes for €14,000, which is a lot more than the €9,250 you have to fork over for the Formula One-ready titanium version.
The watch that would look best in titanium
This list also made me think of watches that are not available in titanium but would look best in that alloy. I will do a list of a bunch of watches later but will leave you with just one prime example of the watch that would look best in titanium. After I leave you with some letters and numbers, you can leave a comment if you will — Ref. 5811/1T-001.
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