Stainless steel or titanium watch? We help you choose

We are regularly asked: “Which is better, a stainless steel or titanium watch?” The answer is important for those looking for a new watch for themselves or as a gift. Because both metals have different properties that influence the appearance and wearing comfort of the watch. In this blog we therefore list the advantages and disadvantages of stainless steel and titanium, so that you can make a choice more easily.

Stainless steel VS titanium, the pros and cons at a glance

Advantages of a stainless steel watch

  • Stainless steel is a strong and durable material that is widely available.
  • Stainless Steel has a neutral, timeless and sporty appearance.
  • Is available in many different finishes (color, polish, brushing).

Disadvantages of a stainless steel watch

  • Stainless steel is relatively heavy.
  • This makes an automatic watch or (larger) sports watch with many functions feel extra heavy.
  • The material is sensitive to temperature changes and can feel cold.
  • Large temperature fluctuations affect the waterproofness due to the effect of the material.
  • Stainless steel usually contains nickel, a metal that some people have an allergic reaction to.

Advantages of a titanium watch

  • Titanium is strong, lightweight and resistant to temperature changes,
  • Making it very suitable for watches where water resistance must be guaranteed.
  • Titanium has excellent resistance to (sea) water and is therefore very suitable for diving watches.
  • The metal is hypoallergenic, anyone can wear it, and
  • It feels warm on the wrist.
  • Titanium does scratch, but due to the natural oxide layer of the material, light scratches ‘repair’ themselves.

Disadvantages of a titanium watch

  • Titanium is more expensive than stainless steel,
  • But due to its extremely light weight, a titanium watch can feel a bit cheap.
  • Fewer titanium watches are being made, so the choice is more limited.
  • Because titanium is harder and more difficult to polish, the finish is usually less surprising than with steel watches and
  • Unfortunately, scratches cannot be polished away.
  • The natural color and shine of titanium is – depending on the coating used – somewhat duller and grayer than that of stainless steel (although that is also a matter of taste).

Stainless Steel Citizen series 8 NA1010-84X
▴ Stainless Steel Citizen series 8 NA1010-84X

Titanium Citizen Promaster Sky JY8100-80L
▴ Titanium Citizen Promaster Sky JY8100-80L

Why choose a stainless steel watch?

Stainless steel watches are the standard in the watch industry. As a result, these watches often have a timeless appearance. It is a material that is strong, solid and easy to maintain. If the steel should unexpectedly become scratched, the watchmaker can polish it during maintenance.

Stainless steel is versatile and can be cast or formed into many different shapes. This makes stainless steel the perfect material for creative designers to develop new forms of watches and straps that are durable.

Most metal watches are made of stainless steel, even if they are colored gold or rose gold, for example. By using different types of scratch-resistant color layers, stainless steel is an affordable alternative to real gold and silver. This color layer is applied to the steel with a special (PVD – physical vapor deposition) coating.

And stainless steel watches are available in all price ranges. This way you have a good watch that will last a long time for a reasonable price.

Titanium Boccia 3348-02
▴ Titanium Boccia 3348-02

Stainless Steel Bulova Marine Star B-15887435
▴ Stainless Steel Bulova Marine Star B-15887435

Why choose a titanium watch?

Titanium watches can now be found in the watch collections of almost all well-known watch brands. It is a popular choice for those who want something different from the “standard” stainless steel, but opt ​​for a strong and durable material instead of, for example, plastic.

The material is very strong, but lightweight and therefore offers great wearing comfort. Titanium is also hypoallergenic, meaning it will not cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin. And titanium is a non-magnetic metal, making it useful for people who work near magnetized machines.

The light weight and neutral color of titanium make it a popular material among designer watch designers such as Jacob Jensen or Danish Design. Titanium is also an ideal material for sporty watches that need to be able to take a beating.

One thing is certain: titanium is a special metal. It is perfect for heavy (automatic) timepieces, where the light weight of the case and strap compensates for the heaviness of the timepiece. Furthermore, its lightness and surface finish provide a warmer and more organic feel on the wrist.

Jacob Jensen JJ169
▴ Jacob Jensen JJ169

Danish Design IV65Q1176
▴ Danish Design IV65Q1176

What is Stainless Steel?

Before the 1930s, most pocket and wristwatches were made from precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum because steel was too difficult for watchmakers to shape and machine. This changed after the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the subsequent global depression. The demand for watches made of precious metal plummeted, so there was a need for more affordable basic materials. Combined with improved technology and manufacturing resources, stainless steel quickly became the standard for most watches.

Stainless steel – also called stainless steel, stainless steel or stainless steel – is not a standalone type of metal. It is always an alloy: a mixture of metal with other chemical elements, usually iron, chromium, nickel and carbon. To be considered stainless steel, it must contain a minimum of 11% chromium and a maximum of 1.2% carbon.

The amount of carbon determines the hardness of the steel. A type of steel with a lot of carbon is therefore difficult to machine.

316L (the ‘L’ stands for ‘low carbon’) steel has a low carbon content and is therefore easier to machine. This type of stainless steel is therefore most commonly used in the production of watches and jewelry.

There are many different types of steel for different applications. By treating the steel with an oxide layer of chromium and purifying it of contaminants, it becomes more resistant to rusting. However, this does not mean that stainless steel cannot rust (corrode) at all. It is very sensitive to chlorine.
Stainless steels such as 316L, whose alloy contains the element molybdenum, are more resistant to chlorine and corrosion. Nevertheless, we recommend that if you have swum in a swimming pool with chlorinated water, you always rinse your watch with chlorine-free drinking water.

904L stainless steel contains a higher concentration of molybdenum, chromium and nickel than 316L, and also contains copper, silicon and manganese. This makes it an even more corrosion-resistant material that can be polished to a higher level. Additionally, the lower carbon and higher chromium content of 904L steel gives it a slightly cooler tone. 904L steel is more expensive than 316L because it is a more difficult material to work with and requires specific equipment. 904L is the type of steel that Rolex has used for watches since 2003.

TW Steel Voloante VS89
▴ TW Steel Voloante VS89

Orient Mako RA-AA0812L19B
▴Orient Mako RA-AA0812L19B

What is Titanium?

Titanium as a material for watches was introduced in 1970 by Citizen, which launched a range of quartz watches under the name X8. Even today, Citizen is still one of the leaders in the use of titanium in watches with their own Super Titanium. Using a patented process called Duratect, the soft titanium material is hardened until it is five times harder and more scratch resistant than stainless steel.

Titanium (or titanium) is a metal that is as strong as steel, but has only 60% the density and is therefore 40% lighter in weight. Titanium is easy to work with and is therefore also used as a material for jewelry and watches.

Another important property of titanium is that it is biologically inert: the human body does not reject it and it is not toxic. Titanium is also widely used as a material for prostheses, implants and piercings because of its anti-allergenic properties and because it is anti-magnetic.

In contrast to stainless steel, titanium is naturally protected against corrosion (rusting) by a final titanium oxide layer, making titanium resistant to seawater and chlorinated swimming water.

The production of titanium is (much) more expensive than the production of steel. Because the metal reacts easily with oxygen and carbon at high temperatures, it is difficult to produce pure titanium.

G-Shock GMW-B5000TCC-1ER
▴ G-Shock GMW-B5000TCC-1ER

Seiko Astron SSH107J1
▴ Seiko Astron SSH107J1

Garmin Marq 010-02648-01
▴ Garmin Marq 010-02648-01


Watches are available in many different shapes, colors and sizes. The case and strap materials used can make a significant difference in the overall quality and durability of the watch. Stainless steel and titanium differ little from each other in this respect; both materials are strong and remain beautiful for a long time.

Externally, the differences are slightly greater: titanium is slightly darker and duller in color than steel. What is more beautiful is a matter of taste. And due to ever-advancing technology, it is becoming increasingly easier to give titanium watches a more shiny coating. See, for example, Boccia’s extensive collection of titanium watches.

Then the question is what one prefers: is the weight of a watch of decisive importance, or is there a metal allergy at play? Then titanium is the best choice.
For a watch in a special color or a gold-colored watch that looks natural, steel is the best option.

And finally, your budget is also important. You can buy a titanium watch with a leather strap from around €90. All-steel watches are available from around €40.

Need advice?

Despite this article, still not sure of your choice? Then visit one of our stores in Rotterdam, Breda or Antwerp. Our store employees can help you search and provide advice on all types of watches.

Recent Articles

Related Stories