Many of today’s finest watch manufactures offer their timepieces in a choice of case metals; the three most common alloys used are high grade stainless steel, eighteen karat gold, and increasingly platinum.
Stainless steel is by far the most common alloy used for watch cases and bracelets today because of its durability and anti-corrosion properties. It is a very hard metal which is ideal for crafting professional sport watches such as dive and pilot watches, travel alarm watches, and sport chronographs. A watch made in steel is the practical choice for “everyday” use, in contrast to precious metal watches, such as gold or platinum pieces, which are usually regarded as dress watches. Some well known examples of stainless steel watches include the Omega Seamaster Dive Chronometer, the IWC Mark XV Pilot watch, and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph.
Gold is the second most common metal used in watch making and is regarded as the classic choice for the finest watches. Although it is more malleable than stainless steel, eighteen karat gold is durable and well suited for watches. Eighteen karat gold alloy can be formulated into three different colors; traditional yellow, pink/rose, or white. Some collectors prefer to buy all of their watches in one metal which they feel looks best on their wrist, while others will own watches in all three varieties.
A classic gold watch brings to mind many milestones celebrated in life which might be marked with the gift of a gold watch; think, wedding, anniversary, and retirement. Also, for many people, being handed down their “fathers gold watch” is rite of passage. With the development of new watch manufacturing technology, watch manufactures now offer increasingly sophisticated timepieces with complicated movements such as perpetual calendars and tourbillon escapements, usually in gold cases. Some examples of fine gold watches include the Patek Phillipe Calatrava, the Girard-Perregaux Triple Bridge Tourbillon, and the Roger Dubuis Golden Square Windows Perpetual Calendar watch.
The most exclusive metal used for watch cases and bracelets is platinum. Platinum is an extremely rare precious metal with excellent heat, wear, and corrosion resistant properties making it an ideal material for collectible exquisite timepieces. With twice the weight and cost of gold it has become the metal of choice among discriminating watch collectors seeking pieces that impart ultimate prestige and wealth. It is not uncommon for the most complicated watches, those that combine multiple complications, to command prices as high as several hundred thousand dollars. For watch aficionados nothing is as mesmerizing as a high complication timepiece cased in platinum. Some examples of very important watches cased in platinum include the IWC Il Destriero Scafusia, the Blancpain 1735 La Brassus Grande Complication, and the Ulysse Nardin Triple Jack Minute Repeater.
The three metals commonly used for watch cases and bracelets are stainless steel, eighteen karat gold, and platinum. There are many choices today as most fine watch manufactures offer their collections in all three metals. The metal you choose for your new watch is a personal choice usually based on your lifestyle. If you are a beginning collector or active person you will likely begin with a stainless steel watch and eventually graduate to buying more expensive, finer watches in eighteen karat gold. If you are a serious collector with deep pockets you’ve probably already discovered the joy of collecting high end watches and have a few gold or platinum pieces in your collection.