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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
It's summer, it's hot, I sweat a lot and I avoid using watches with leather straps: leather doesn't last long when soaked in sweat every day. And it doesn't feel good either. So these days most of the time I am wearing a watch with a bracelet, and I have been thinking more and more about the advantages of Titanium(Ti) over Stainless Steel (SS).
I have one precise example in mind here:

Ti Citizen Calibre 2100



SS Citizen Calibre 2100



These are both high-end watches and fantastic value if you ask me, but the Ti version is slightly more expensive. I guess titanium is more expensive than the surgical-grade stainless steel used by Citizen, and according to what I read, machining titanium requires different techniques compared to good old stainless steel.
How do these two watches compare? Well, for starters, once you pick them up the most obvious difference is weight: the Ti version weighs 80.7g, the SS version is 50% heavier at 120.5g (also the crystal is sapphire on the Ti version and mineral glass on the SS version, I am guessing the sapphire crystal is slightly heavier). Internally the watches are identical, so the difference in weight is obviously due to the watch case, caseback and bracelet material.
The (excellent) case and bracelet finish is identical also, with brushed and polished parts, so I am guessing both Ti and SS can be finished in similar fashion. The Ti version has a surface treatment called Duratect to make it less scratch-prone. Stainless Steel apparently does not require this treatment.
The two metals feel different to the touch, SS feels harder and colder whereas Ti feels softer and warmer. Titanium is a poor heat conductor, even poorer than Stainless Steel. Both Ti and surgical-grade SS are very much inert metals, but lower grade stainless steel can sometimes react with sweat.
I believe titanium is a relatively new material for watch manufacturers, but I am hoping that Seiko, Citizen, Casio and Orient will all four develop more and more watches using Ti. Citizen seems to be ahead in this, with Casio right behind. I am not sure what went on with Seiko, they used to have their older Alpinist watches with Ti cases and suddenly their latest Alpinist are back to SS. :(
There is a good article about titanium on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium.
So, given the choice between an otherwise identical Ti or SS watch, which one would I choose? The Ti one, no doubt. There is one new watch material which I haven't seen yet in person, that is ceramic. Is it even better than Ti?
Comments welcome!
Cheers,
 

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Indeed titanium is very 'easy to wear' (I suspect mostly as a result of reduced weight and being non-allergenic), and my most comfortable watches for hot and steamy weather are (in increasingly more comfy order):

- Exceed E510




- the one that I call 'the smooth beater' (auto-like seconds hand) - this one is even better since the more rigid bracelet touches the skin on a much smaller surface and also has a non-flat caseback:




- ultra-light G-SHOCK




- again very similar Casio but with more rigid band

 

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Now my daily rotation is the Seiko ti 8F56 Landtrek GMT perpetual 41mm width, and the other is the SS Tsunami. The titanium Seiko is very light and awesome in practial functions. I also used to own the Casio PRG 80 black version titanium and loved it but gifted it to my nephew.
I have a vintage St. Moritz digital from the 90s in titanium but don't wear it. The incoming Omega X-33 is titanium and 42mm wide, so I suspect it will be added to my daily rotation.
You can guess if I love titanium watches!




 

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I have one stainless steel Citizen Calibre 2100 and two JDM Citizen Attesas in Titanium + Duratect....




On the wrist today...






Attesa "Direct Flight" ATD53-3011:


[img]http://i662.photobucket.com/albums/uu345/minidriver_2009/DSC_0332.jpg


Attesa "Jet Setter" ATV53-3022:







Before getting my Attesas, I was a very vocal critic of the use of titanium in watches. To me, most Ti watches I had come to handle up to that point looked and felt like plastic to me. Hated the lack of heft, the dull looks of the metal, the added cost and the scratch magnet nature of the metal (And its difficulty to fix vs SS).


All those prejudices I had against Ti went out of the window when I received the Attesas. The Ti that Citizen uses in Japan market models is of very high quality. The Duratect scratch resist coating adds "SS" like sheen to the bracelet and case. The watch in spite of being light, still feels like metal, not a plastic toy.


I am also a very sweaty person living in the butt hot and humid city of Miami. Leather bands of any kind are off limits to me. I no longer have any watches with straps. Metal bracelets is the only way for me. The Titanium is super, super comfortable. My skin breathes great underneath it.


Having said all this, I still prefer the heft of stainless steel. My Seiko Anantas are over 200g and love to feel that awesome weight on my wrist.


So it all depends on what you like and how you skin reacts to the metal. Titanium is great for people with SS allergies. Also Titanium is inherently stronger (Read: no more scratch resistant) than steel.


I wish Citizen in the US would sell Ti+ Duratect watches. I just don't care for the low grade titanium versions they sell here.
 

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I've never owned a Duratect finished Citizen. However, I think Citizen Ti treatment varies even within the range of watches offered in the US. My titantium Skyhawk, for instance, appeared to be quite scratch resistant...even after several bangs and smashes on door knobs, wall fixtures and the like. Not one mark. My Orca and Citizen AT06* chrono however, got minor scratches within a few days of wearing.

So while it may not say Duratect on the ad copy, the ti finish on the upper end Citizen models offered in the US does appear to be of good quality and a notch or two above what is found on their more affordable titanium pieces.
 

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I don't know. As much as I like Ti in Watches, I find that it is generally not for me in this application. As proof, I only have one Ti watch. I find that TI is a much warmer metal, and while the lightness is appreciated, not every watch feels "right" to me with it. I generally prefer the weight and cooler (temperature not style) of steel.
 

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Sometimes you have no choice. The vast majority of JDM Citizens come in Titanium. All Exceeds and Attesas are offered in Ti only, no SS options at all. Interestingly, you can buy a Chronomaster in SS or Ti with Duratect. But you get no such option with the lower product lines. Even the "tough" Promaster divers come in Ti.
 

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It's just a matter of what you prefer unless of course you have allergic reactions to the nickle in stainless. Most folks actually don't like the lightness of Titanium and equate weight with quality. I have a few Titaniums but to tell you the truth when I wear my Seiko Flightmaster auto it just doesn't feel right, its too light. Comically, I have an Invicta Russian Diver in pure Titanium and it still weighs over 300 grams!
 

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NelsonE said:
Comically, I have an Invicta Russian Diver in pure Titanium and it still weighs over 300 grams!
Must be that Swiss titanium layering...far more substantial than any old run o' the mill Ti.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
NelsonE said:
It's just a matter of what you prefer unless of course you have allergic reactions to the nickle in stainless. Most folks actually don't like the lightness of Titanium and equate weight with quality.
...
"Most folks" ? I am aware of the recent trend for big, heavy divers in this forum (sadly mostly worn as desk divers, it must be said :p ), but as far as everyday watches are concerned, I am not sure the majority does not appreciate lighter watches on their wrist.
As for equating weight with quality, well that's just plain wrong, :-[ but I guess it's a consequence of the flood of $2 quartz watches made out of plastic or chromed metal; these are indeed light and extremely low quality.
 

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I do appreciate the durability and lightness to weight. But do they scratch more easily, or is this a myth?
I know titanium is always regarded as a very strong metal, hence their costs.


Sorry if this is a dumb question.
Dave.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
sharkfinDave said:
I do appreciate the durability and lightness to weight. But do they scratch more easily, or is this a myth?
I know titanium is always regarded as a very strong metal, hence their costs.


Sorry if this is a dumb question.
Dave.
Dave, that's an excellent question. And the answer is not simple.
First, as far as I know the "scratchability" of a metal alloy is related to its hardness. Check this article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale
As you can see, Ti has a hardness of 6, whereas SS alloys can reach 7.5 to 8 in hardness (Sapphire is 9, I think). So yes, pure Ti scratches more easily than hardened steel.
But are Ti watches made from pure Ti or some sort of Ti alloy? And what is the exact hardness of the SS used for watches?
And then we have coatings/surface treatments. A DLC Ti watch is nearly unscratchable. As for Duratect (a brand name from Citizen, probably encompasses different surface treatment techniques), I don't have any data, but from experience I can tell you that Duratect treated Ti is harder than SS, because a SS bracelet will get scratched when put through the same abuse as a Duratect Ti bracelet that won't.
Where does that leave us? If you see a mention of Titanium without any surface treatment or coating, then yes, I believe that watch will scratch more easily than SS. And if you see Duratect, DLC or some other kind of coating/surface treatment (Seiko uses Diashield I think), then there are good chances that the Ti watch will scratch less easily than an SS one.
Going back to the SS/Ti Citizen Calibre 2100 watches above, the SS one is scratched on the bracelet clasp, whereas the Ti Duratect one isn't. I know that's anecdotal evidence, but that's all I have. ;)
 

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ADB said:
"Most folks" ? I am aware of the recent trend for big, heavy divers in this forum (sadly mostly worn as desk divers, it must be said :p ), but as far as everyday watches are concerned, I am not sure the majority does not appreciate lighter watches on their wrist.
As for equating weight with quality, well that's just plain wrong, :-[ but I guess it's a consequence of the flood of $2 quartz watches made out of plastic or chromed metal; these are indeed light and extremely low quality.

Sorry but that is your opinion, not fact. I enjoy the heft of my SS watches and that has nothing to do with the flood of $2 quartz.


While I like and enjoy my Titanium watches, I still prefer the feel of steel. Another advantage of steel cases is that high polished areas can accomplish a higher degree of mirror finish (Like those on the Seiko Anantas) which is not as easy to reproduce on titanium.


You say Tomato, I say tomato. ;)
 

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sharkfinDave said:
I do appreciate the durability and lightness to weight. But do they scratch more easily, or is this a myth?
I know titanium is always regarded as a very strong metal, hence their costs.


Sorry if this is a dumb question.
Dave.

Dave, Titanium has much higher tensile strength than SS, but if the surface is untreated, it will scratch easier. It is also more difficult to repair because when repairing scratches in Ti you are moving material around as opposed to remove metal like you do with SS. Wonder why we don't have titanium kitchen knives? :)) Because Ti is very hard and difficult to sharpen.


Duratect treatment gives the Ti surface 4 times the scratch resistance of stainless steel but it is still not idiot proof.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
minidriver said:
...
Another advantage of steel cases is that high polished areas can accomplish a higher degree of mirror finish (Like those on the Seiko Anantas) which is not as easy to reproduce on titanium.
As far as I know, both Ti and SS can be polished to the same degree of mirror finish, witness my two Ti Seiko Alpinists that have a perfect mirror finish.
From everything I have read Ti can always be finished like SS (satin, brushed, mirror, etc), but some surface treatments (DLC for example) give it a specific color and appearance.
 

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ADB said:
As far as I know, both Ti and SS can be polished to the same degree of mirror finish, witness my two Ti Seiko Alpinists that have a perfect mirror finish.
From everything I have read Ti can always be finished like SS (satin, brushed, mirror, etc), but some surface treatments (DLC for example) give it a specific color and appearance.

Well....


Yes Duratect, DiaShield (Seiko's name for their Ti coating) may change the appearance and reflectivity of the treated metal surfaces.


But....



A better comparison would be a Seiko Ananta case in SS and the new ones in high tensile Titanium. Even reviewers have noticed that the 3 step hand blade polishing of the Titanium models is not nearly as striking as the stainless steel models.


My Citizen Attesa Direct Flight has some beautiful finished polished surfaces on the case. But they don't hold a candle to what could be done in SS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
minidriver said:
Well....


Yes Duratect, DiaShield (Seiko's name for their Ti coating) may change the appearance and reflectivity of the treated metal surfaces.


But....



A better comparison would be a Seiko Ananta case in SS and the new ones in high tensile Titanium. Even reviewers have noticed that the 3 step hand blade polishing of the Titanium models is not nearly as striking as the stainless steel models.


My Citizen Attesa Direct Flight has some beautiful finished polished surfaces on the case. But they don't hold a candle to what could be done in SS.
I beg to differ. I'll take a picture of my Alpinists tomorrow, next to other Seiko SS watches. The mirror finish is indistinguishable.
 
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