Apple’s announcement (or rather, confirmation, given the constant churning of the rumor mill) of the new Apple Watch Series 5 in titanium is welcome news. Yes, it’s another pricey luxury material attached to a product with a very limited shelf life. But it’s also another step in the right direction by Apple in offering premium case options that provide tangible user benefits.
Integrating gold in the first Apple Watch, after all, was purely a PR move. Later Edition models launched in ceramic did offer increased scratch resistance over aluminum or stainless steel, though ceramic is still far from the ideal watchmaking material given its cost and (relative) brittleness.
Titanium is different. Citizen was the first watch company to fashion a watch out of titanium in 1970, and several brands have since taken it upon themselves to machine titanium watches. Titanium is light, scratch-resistant, corrosion-resistant, durable, and hypoallergenic, but still, at present, more expensive to machine than stainless steel or aluminum. In short, the material offers all the traits one would want for a wearable item that accompanies you everywhere. When found in the watch world, it’s most often in dive and tool watches.
For these reasons, to my mind, of all the non-aluminum material choices for the Apple Watch, titanium makes the most sense, especially given the device’s general price range. And though it is a luxury material, it’ll fly much further under the radar compared to something like the original solid gold Apple Watch Edition.
Unfortunately, the premium Apple’s charging for titanium with the new Series 5 is still tough to recommend on the grounds of functionality alone. The new Apple Watch Edition Series 5 starts at $799 in titanium or $400 above the base Apple Watch. That means you could ruin your first Series 5 and buy another brand new model for the same amount of cash. It is still cheaper than the $1,299 baseline price for ceramic. Here’s hoping Apple’s vast production scale and influence can help bring down the cost of this useful super material in the future.