Watch Buyers Guide – Case Materials

Much of the character of a watch is wrapped up in the choice of materials used to make them. Some have practical reasons for being used, others are purely used for aesthetics. The materials predominantly used to make the casings of watches are:

Stainless Steel – Tough, durable and resistant to everyday wear. This is a material that has been around for a good while, so watchmakers have had time perfect their art crafting with this material.

PVD Plated Stainless Steel or Titanium – Can give the appearance of a watch being made from solid gold, but without the cost associated with buying the precious metal. Avoid PVD plated watches if you’re looking for a watch with a solid resell value. But, if it’s a watch you love and intend to keep, then go ahead with the purchase.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date 116613LB – Sitting on medium sized Rolex box
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date 116613LB – Sitting on medium sized Rolex box

Solid Gold: Yellow, Rose and White – Nothing says success quite like a solid gold watch on your wrist, and are frequently gifted to employees as a long service award. Gold is a metal that draws greater attention to the wealth and status of the wearer than just an ordinary stainless steel watch. The lustrous metal polishes especially well due to it’s relative softness, helping make it a popular choice for dress watches where durability is less of a priority.

Platinum – Similar properties to gold but sufficiently tough enough that it doesn’t need to be alloyed to increase it’s durability, but is still considered a soft metal. Expect to pay more for a platinum watch than a similar gold one as platinum costs more to mine and work with. And it will also used at a higher purity, meaning there will be more of if. Platinum watches usually use the alloy ‘950’ which means that it’s 95% pure platinum. For comparison an 18K white gold watch will use 75% gold and 25% other metal, such as silver and palladium to increase durability. This results in a platinum watch being about 30% heavier on the wrist that a gold one.

Ceramic – A relatively new material, and increasingly being used to make ladies watches and bezel inserts. This is due to it’s ability to be highly polished and to maintain it’s finish for a long period of time without getting scratched. Which keeps it looking brand new for longer.

Titanium – The wonder material that’s both light and incredibly strong, having the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metallic element. It is particularly well suited to being made into watches that stay on the wrist all day as it’s hypoallergenic, durable and light weight.