Tough Enough: The Best Watch Materials

When it comes to selecting a timepiece, consider what it’s made of and how it will move with you.
IMAGE Tag Heuer/ Cartier/ Omega

Apart from its primary function of telling the time, the kind of watch you choose to wear can signify many things: style, social status, and hey, even athletic ability. It’s practical, of course, to own multiple watches for a variety of functions and occasions, but before you start on your collection, take note of the materials it’s available in and what each one is known for.

Here’s a list of the most common ones on the market, as well as their strengths and caveats.   

1| Stainless Steel 

Omega Speedmaster '57 Omega Co-Axial Chronograph, Greenbelt 5

Perhaps the best material for your starter luxury watch kit, this widely used alloy is strong, hardy, and resistant to corrosion, tarnishing, and discoloration. It’s built to last and the subtle shine makes it casual yet dressy enough for everyday use.

There are two types of finishes, polished and brushed, and nearly every respectable watchmaker offers many classic watches in this option. It may be prone to scratches and dents and it’s not the lightest material around, so try not to use this for a very sporty or rugged activity; it’s perfectly suited for a business lunch at a country club or early evening drinks.


2| Carbon Fiber 

Luminox Black Ops 8880, Glorietta 4

A carbon fiber watch is for the man who is ready to signal a splashy entry into the big leagues. The same material that adorns supercars and military equipment can also be on your wrist—for a price.

It weighs half as much as aluminum and is three times as strong, so it’s well-suited to sporty and heavy activities, but might be prone to shattering if you’re not at least a little careful. And it’s black, which just makes it look so, so cool.

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3| Gold 

Cartier Tank Solo XL, Greenbelt 4

There is such a thing as a Gold Standard, and with good reason: When it comes to just plain luxury and beauty, nothing else comes quite close to this precious metal’s warm glow and its hefty feel against your skin.

Not always the most practical of materials, as it can get quite heavy. But you buy gold not for its functionality, but the legacy it will leave behind—non-corrosive, it’s meant to last forever and be passed on for generations to come. It’s also bound to rise in value over time, making this the perfect choice for an heirloom piece to be brought out for every elegant and dressy occasion.


4| Titanium 

Citizen Brycen,

If your skin is on the sensitive side, this is the metal for you. Titanium is famed for being hypoallergenic, so it won’t cause irritation with daily use.

It’s also non-corrosive, stronger than steel, and a lot more lightweight, making this the ideal sports and activity watch (after all, the material was originally intended for outer space). Bear in mind, however, that a titanium watch is an investment, as it can also be quite pricey to restore and maintain.


5| Silicon Rubber 

Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01, Glorietta 4

A hardworking material that can be found in a range of everyday items from sneakers to toys to medical equipment, good old rubber is as easy, reliable, and wearable as they come. Light, waterproof, heat- and cold-resistant, and impact- and shock-absorbing, it’s the perfect thing to slap on and not fuss over when you’re out exploring and adventuring.


The material also lends itself well to a range of colors and designs, so this is the watch to have a little more fun and show your personality with.

6| Ceramic 

Chanel J12 Intense Black,

Made out of zirconium oxide and neither a metal nor a polymer, this has become the material of choice for the fashion-forward set. Extremely scratch-resistant and lightweight, it can also be manufactured in a range of colors and designs.


It’s shiny, sleek, and non-porous, but be warned as it can also be on the brittle side, so protect it from vigorous and high-impact activities. Leave it at home when playing sports, but do bring it out for a cocktail party.

7| Plastic 

Nixon Time Teller P, Glorietta 4


Perhaps the most pedestrian material on this list, and yet plastic cannot be discounted simply because of its utility and ubiquity. Your very first watch (as in, the one your parents strapped on you when you were a child) was probably a plastic watch, and hey, it’s fun, lightweight, can give you a little sense of nostalgia, and shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

Plus it’s so affordable, you can practically wear a different one for every day of the week, and you’ll never have to worry about setting off alarms when going through airport security.   

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