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Throwback Sundays: Six Recommendations for a Titanium Watch from Our Archives

by Robin Lim on August 30, 2015

Titanium, also commonly known as the symbol “Ti”, is a popular material for watchmaking for the past few years. Discovered in 1791, Titanium (usually used as an alloy) is a widely popular choice of material for many applications, and this is all thanks to its impressive properties. It is extremely lightweight and robust. Furthermore, it is highly resistant to corrosion and dents. Making it a very suitable technical material for a titanium watch.

The first to find an industrial use was the Soviet Union, who pioneered this material to build submarines and other military equipment in the 50s. The first watch to feature a titanium case was the Citizen X8 Officially Certified Chronometer. It was produced in 1970, and only 2000 X8s were made.

Over the years, some interesting titanium watches have come our way. A few memorable ones include the IWC Ocean 2000, Girard-Perregaux’s Ferrari Chronograph Ti, and Richard Mille’s RM10 Ti. They were all excellent pieces, and the use of Titanium had certainly accentuated their sporty pedigree.

 

Six Titanium Watch picks

Fast forward, we have a plethora of watchmakers utilizing and incorporating this material into their watches. Some of them were hits, while a few are misses. Here are our six picks for a titanium watch which are hits.

 

Tudor Pelagos

 

The new Tudor Pelagos, featuring a blue dial and bezel, as well as the brand new in-house movement.

The new Tudor Pelagos, featuring a blue dial and bezel, as well as the brand new in-house movement.

 

The first titanium watch that we are featuring today is one of our favourite tool watches: the Tudor Pelagos. The Pelagos has been around for quite a few years, and we love it for its robustness and value proposition. In this year’s Baselworld, Tudor had announced that they are giving the Pelagos a new lease of life by way of a new in-house movement.

The Caliber MT5612 is a self-winding movement, certified by COSC, has a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, beating a frequency of 28,800 bph. Interestingly, the movement is regulated by a variable inertia oscillator with silicon balance spring, held in place by a traversing bridge fixed at both sides to improve resistance to shocks and vibrations. Interesting construction to ensure the movement is on a very stable platform and making the Pelagos a good candidate for more rugged activities.

Aesthetically, Tudor offers clients the choice of having either the original black variant, or the all-new matte blue version. We think the blue is a stunning version, and the matte blue dial pairing very nicely with the titanium case.

The use of titanium for its case and bracelet gives the watch a light feel on the wrist, and without compromising on the robustness of the watch. It is also an interesting alternative to the Rolex Submariner “Smurf” (Reference 116619). It is much more affordable and accessible to the masses.

 

Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition

 

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition, featuring a NATO-inspired fabric strap.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition, featuring a NATO-inspired fabric strap.

 

Next up, we have another crowd-favourite: the Omega Speedmaster. This is, however, not an ordinary Speedmaster. In fact, this is the Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition, a watch that was made to commemorate the occasion when Man first set foot on the Moon in 1969. The original Omega which made it to the moon had a steel case, but the re-issue is a titanium watch.

At the first glance, the feature that had caught our eyes is certainly the dark chocolate dial. It is intriguing, especially since it bears an uncanny resemblance to the surface of the Moon (though sans the craters and irregularities, the relief of the markers on the dial creates this impression). The dial is finished in Black PVD, and it utilizes a special engraving technique which allows the subdials and the other details to protrude. The use of Sedna Gold on both the hands and indices of the timepiece gives excellent contrast, and it makes this watch look a little more special.

The 42mm timepiece is cased in Grade-2 Titanium, and it is paired with a ceramic tachymeter scale that is surrounded by the 18K Sedna Gold bezel ring. The combination is definitely stunning, especially when it is worn with the NATO-inspired fabric strap that had came with this watch.

Perhaps one of the best limited edition Speedmasters that Omega have produced. An extremely good-looking watch. Furthermore, the lightness of the both the fabric strap and the titanium case makes the watch rather comfortable on the wrists. You can’t really go wrong with this.

 

HYT Skull

 

The HYT Skull, in DLC Titanium. For this variant, the  watch comes with a lime green fluid tube to tell time.

The HYT Skull, in DLC Titanium. For this variant, the watch comes with a lime green fluid tube to tell time.

 

The next titanium watch that we are going to feature is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The HYT Skull. Here, we have one of the more controversial pieces from an equally intriguing watchmaker. HYT watches are unique not only because of the stunning aesthetics, but also because the use of fluids to tell time. Two different kinds of fluids in the tube, one oil based and a coloured water based liquid is used. The two fluids travel in the tube via the pistons pumps which are driven by a snail gear.

When we first saw the watch, we thought that it was pretty intimidating. As one looks at the watch, a skull stares back. It is, right from the start, either a love-it-or-hate-it timepiece. Some people simply adore the boldness of this watch, while others might opine that the design is definitely not their cup of tea.

The watch is large, measuring some 51mm in diameter, and the aesthetics are in your face, loud and perhaps a good conversational piece. Time is read by only the liquid showing the hours, the watch lacks a minute hand, but a spinning disc inside the socket of the skull’s left eye. A power reserve indicator is shown in the right eye’s socket. Available in either a red liquid or green flourescent liquid, either version will certainly stands out from the crowd.

 

Bulgari L’Ammiraglio del Tempo Minute Repeater

 

The Bulgari L'Ammiraglio del Tempo Minute Repeater. One of the few high-end complicated watches that features a titanium case.

The Bulgari L’Ammiraglio del Tempo Minute Repeater. It is one of the few high-end complicated watches that feature a titanium case.

 

We usually associate the use of titanium cases with sports watches, as the material is sturdy enough to withstand the kind of strains and stresses that such watches may be exposed to. However, the next watch in our article is a little different. The Bulgari L’Ammiraglio del Tempo Minute Repeater is not only a dress watch, but it is one that is chock-full of complications. And yes, it is fitted with a titanium case.

When we first set our eyes on the timepiece, we were amazed. The dial is cutout to showcase the components of the complication. Some of the more interesting portions that were shown include the hammers for the minute repeater, the Detent Escapement, as well as the Constant Force Escapement. Finishing on both the movement and components are immaculate.

Cased in a Daniel Roth signature case design, the Bulgari L’Ammiraglio del Tempo Minute Repeater is technically as impressive as it looks. The minute repeater strikes with one of most soulful and sensuous tones we have heard in a long time. In conclusion, this is certainly one of the most impressive watches from Bulgari. It is a truly remarkable timepiece.

 

MB&F HM6

 

The MB&F HM6. Similar to the HYT Skull, this is another controversial timepiece that splits collectors into two different factions.

The MB&F HM6. Similar to the HYT Skull, this is another controversial timepiece that splits collectors into two different factions.

 

If one follows the world of independent watchmaking, then perhaps one would be familiar with the works of MB&F. Watches from MB&F, like many other independent watchmakers, are highly controversial and thought-provoking. Many of them feature design cues making them mechanical scluptures. The HM6, from the Horological Machine series, is no exception to that.

Inspired by memories of his childhood, Maximillian Büsser incorporated designs from one of his favorite Japanese anime: Capitaine Flam. Besides looking like the Comet Spacecraft that was featured in the anime, we were also told that the HM6 was inspired by the art of biomorphism. This is a kind of art form which draws inspiration from the natural curves and forms found on living creatures, seems to have given the watch a life of its own.

Aside from its distinctive looks, the HM6 is also packed with interesting features. A semi-spherical shield covers the centrally mounted tourbilon. Like a set of eyelids, it can be opened and closed by turning the crown to expose or protect the flying tourbillon of the timepiece. Another eyecatching feature are the two turbines that are found in two of the domes at the far end of the watch. Its function is to use air resistance to moderate the force of the massively heavy rotor. And of course, the time-indicating dome. A solid aluminium block is used to craft the dome into a paper-thin structure, ensuring that it remains light so that it will not require too much torque to turn and to rotate perpendicularly to the movement. Quite amazing.

The first time we handled the watch, we were amazed by the lightness of the watch. The HM6’s case is made of titanium, and some would have preferred the watch to be fitted with a gold case, but we think the use of titanium  accentuates the themes and inspirations of this particular watch.

As usual, this is a watch that have its own fair share of fans and critics alike. We loved it for its a rather refreshing and conversational take at a watch. We hope that this will inspire designers to create watches that will stimulate our senses like the HM6.

 

De Bethune DB28

 

The De Bethune DB28.

The De Bethune DB28.

 

And then, we come to the De Bethune’s DB28.

Similar to MB&F, most of De Bethune’s watches are rather avantgarde and abstract. The DB28 is a strong testament. It features many interesting design elements, such as the iconic floating lugs and 3D Moonphase Display.

The articulating lugs have a captivating blue and purple hue on it. The hue was a result of using flame treatment, in which titanium was heated up to a certain temperature. The concept is similar to blued steel hands, in which it can be found in many high-end watches like the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 and the Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077. The traditional bluing is typically applied to small components, but De Bethune pioneered the use of this heat bluing process for large pieces like the entire dial or the entire case.

We also think the use of the blued titanium lugs in combination with the rose gold case makes for a visually attractive watch.

The De Bethune DB28 is a fascinating timepiece, without a shadow of doubt. It looks alluring, and the finishing on the watch is simply superb. Coupled with a power reserve of 6 days, the DB28 is definitely a watch that ticks all the right boxes.

 

Afterthoughts

Many tool or sports watches have turned to titanium because of its inherent properties. The combination of its strength, as well as its weight, makes titanium an excellent choice of material to create a strong and sturdy timepiece. It has recently also become a metal of choice among some high-end watchmakers. Watches, such as the DB28 and the HM6, are just some excellent examples in which they had used the material to further emphasize the avantgarde/ sci-fi theme of the watches.

Would we pick a titanium watch over a similar watch that is made from stainless steel? Interesting question. A titanium case is lighter, and perhaps just as rugged. What would you pick?

We hope that you have enjoyed this week’s installment of Throwback Sundays. Please do share with us what are some of your favorite titanium watches in the “comments” section below!

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