The payoffs of intensive research and development in metallurgy, these six extraordinary timepieces are made of metals exhibiting remarkable properties ideal for watchmaking.
Titanium is fast becoming the material of choice for sports watches. Compared to conventional steel alloys, titanium is lighter in weight but far more durable. Ceteris paribus, a watch made of titanium is better than another made of stainless steel. Long considered a “holy grail” sports watch, for the first time, the ROYAL OAK is beating a self-winding movement equipped with a flying tourbillon. This AUDEMARS PIGUET example features a 41mm titanium case and signature bracelet, and flaunts a sandblasted slate grey dial instead of the customary Tapisserie motif.
More precious and durable than gold, platinum is the denser and rarer metal to boot. Due to its less malleable nature, platinum is comparatively harder to be fabricated into watch cases. This test of craftsmanship is reflected in the price tag and only the most exceptional watches are justified with a platinum option. Among which is the TANK ASYMÉTRIQUE, limited to 100 numbered pieces. Part of the CARTIER Privé collection highlighting the maison’s legendary designs, this extra-large specimen is underscored by a 47.15mm x 26.2mm platinum case, while the crown is adorned with an enchanting ruby cabochon.
Though widely utilised in heavy industries such as automobiles, aerospace and shipbuilding, aluminium is rarely exhibited in watchmaking. Apart from being lighter than steel, this non-ferrous alloy boasts superior corrosion resistance. The winner of the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Iconic Watch Prize, BVLGARI’S ALUMINIUM CHRONOGRAPH reaps benefits from a 40mm aluminium case reinforced with a titanium caseback. Coupled with a black rubber bezel and strap, this chronograph is an amalgamation of unexpected elements.
LUCENT STEEL A223
While it shares a few characteristics with the everyday stainless steel, Lucent Steel A223 is undisputedly more advanced. To begin with, it is 50 percent harder. Partially upcycled from recycled steel, Lucent Steel A223 is also produced in adherence to REACH-certified ethical practices. Previously offered in ALPINE EAGLE Large and Small, this silvery alloy developed by CHOPARD in partnership with Voestalpine Böhler has found its way to the 44MM ALPINE EAGLE XL CHRONO. This resolutely modern chronograph is complemented with an Aletsch blue dial inspired by the eponymous glacier located in the Alps.
Famous among connoisseurs for its wealth of blue titanium-clad watches, independent brand DE BETHUNE takes matters to another level utilising brilliant yellow titanium. The unique production calls upon gentle oxidation of grade 5 titanium in order to imbue the metal with an inimitable hue. This process is similar to the technique employed in obtaining the blued screws used by watchmakers to secure movement components. Measuring 44mm, the DB28GS “YELLOW SUBMARINE” is flanked by the patented floating lugs which give the wrist a snuggly hug no matter how large the case is. This beauty is limited to 25 pieces.
The best-of-both-worlds approach sees OMEGA meld two precious metals – platinum and gold – to conceive an uber-luxurious alloy. Even though independently 950 platinum and 18k gold are somewhat resistant to signs of wear and tear, this proprietary alloy surpasses them with ease where scratch resistance and durability are concerned. The SEAMASTER DIVER 300M JAMES BOND NUMBERED EDITION, though not a limited edition, is offered in this remarkable material. Apart from discernible references to the British spy, the 42mm watch is affixed with a platinum-gold plate engraved with the individual edition number.
TEXT JUSTIN NG | ART DIRECTION IBNU ASWAN