What are the most common materials with which watches are made? And the manufacturing material of the glass of the watch face or the strap? Do you have an allergic reaction and want to see what your best options are as a hypoallergenic watch?
Good questions. This is important to know, for several reasons: the price of the watch is going to change quite a bit, its resistance to shocks or scratches as well, and… you may need a watch made of a special material if you start to have skin allergies. Let’s see it.
But first a little introduction. Wristwatches can be made of very different materials depending on the watch brand and model.
Look at Casio, we have very cheap resin models (about 25, 30 dollars like the Casio F-91W ) or we can find other stainless steel metal models (such as the Casio G-Shock GMW-B5000, which is already 400, 500 dollars). Or models that incorporate carbon in their structure to increase their lightness and resistance ( Casio G-Shock GR-B200 Gravitymaster with Carbon Core Guard).
Is the material from which they are made important? Sure, since it determines the longevity of the watch, its aesthetics, or its price.
Most common watchmaking materials
Let’s first see a small table with some interesting things about each type of material:
|Stainless steel||It is hard to scratch, durable, light, and very strong. It is corrosion resistant|
|Titanium||Lighter and more scratch-resistant than steel. It is hypoallergenic|
|Carbon fiber||Light and very resistant|
|Plastics and resins||Very light and cheap to produce. Able to absorb impacts. Cheap.|
|GOLD||It is resistant to corrosion but can be easily scratched. It’s heavy and Expensive.|
|Ceramics||It is a lightweight material and is also hypoallergenic. Very scratch-resistant. Expensive.|
|Silicone||Cheap. Soft and comfortable to wear. It is light and waterproof.|
A timeless classic. Possibly the most used material in world watchmaking. Stainless steel is made from an alloy of iron and carbon, with a minimum of 10% to 12% chrome. It may also contain other metals, such as molybdenum, nickel, and tungsten.
What properties does this metal have to be used both in watchmaking? Stainless steel is hard to scratch, durable and lightweight, and very strong. It is also corrosion-resistant.
The exterior can be brushed (rougher) or polished (shinier). Different watch brands have their own formulations and some have come up with stronger and more durable steels (ask Rolex and their premium 904L steel).
A stainless steel watch is prone to scratches and can be easily damaged. You have to be careful with them.
- Fact: Many brands add an extra layer of metal by vapor deposition to add scratch resistance. Casio has many models with Ion Plating in its Premium MTG and MRG zone. The same Citizen or Seiko. Interesting changes in the color of the watch can occur.
Another very interesting material to make watches for very good reasons: it is lighter than steel and it is more resistant. Citizen was the first brand to introduce this material in the watch market.
Its toughness against impact is very high. Citizen currently offers some of the best watches with this material thanks to its patented Super Titanium. Take a look at this model: Citizen Eco-Drive CC9025-51E Satellite Wave GPS Sky Premier Watch or the Victorinox INOX Titanium.
- It may interest you: Citizen Super Titanium: What is it? Is it worth buying a watch with Super Titanium?
But Seiko also offers very good options.
If you are allergic to stainless steel and nickel, you should buy a watch made of titanium to continue enjoying your hobby. Titanium is a hypoallergenic material.
We are seeing more and more carbon fiber watches. For example, Casio uses its Carbon Core Guard, which makes its models lighter and stronger.
Carbon fiber is made up of carbon atoms linked together to form a long chain. It is very resistant and light, but the price of a watch made entirely of this material can be high.
Take, for example, the watches made in Carbonox from the Swiss brand Luminox: they are quite expensive.
Carbon fiber is often used in sports cars.
4.-Plastics and resins
They are organic in nature and are made up of hydrocarbon chains. Resins are more natural. Plastics are like a type of synthetic resin (to simplify a lot).
- It may interest you: The best cheap Casio watches for men and women
For example, Casio G-Shock watches use polyurethane resin which is a cross-linked polymer. The lifetime can be indefinite, but they can be degraded due to ultraviolet light (sun), ozone, and other solvents.
These materials are very cheap, and watches with this composition are usually very comfortable to wear on the wrist. They are light and can be scratched easily.
A great quality of plastics is that they are capable of absorbing impacts. The color can also be easily changed.
The precious metal par excellence, but as you can imagine, in this case, the price of the watch is going to go up a lot. It is not for everybody. It is available in various types (red, pink, white, and yellow).
Normally, you can find gold in the case, and in mechanical watches in the movement, along with the famous rubies, which help in this type of watch to reduce friction in its mechanisms and increase precision (they can be synthetic).
- It may interest you: Mechanical vs Automatic vs Quartz Watches: Which Type of Watch is Best for You?
24 karat yellow gold is resistant to corrosion but can be easily scratched. It’s heavy. If another metal is added to the alloy, we change the color and its properties (palladium, silver, and copper can be added).
Another perfect option that resists scratches like no other material. It is an expensive material, and many brands use it in their premium models. It is a lightweight material and is also hypoallergenic.
You can find this material on the bezel of some watches like the Seiko Prospex SRPE39K1 “KING TURTLE MANTA RAYA”.
Silicone is a soft and comfortable material to wear. It is light and waterproof. It can be easily changed color.
Silicone is an inorganic polymer derived from polysiloxane (made up of silicon and oxygen atoms). It is odorless and colorless. It is inert and stable at high temperatures
It is a perfect material for sports and casual watches. It is quite flexible. Many activity bracelets are usually made of this material.
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And the manufacturing material of the watch glass?
|Type Of Material||Scratch resistance||Can be repaired||Transparency|
|Acrylic glass||very low||Yes||normal|
|Sapphire crystal||high||No||Very high|
Another thing to keep in mind if we want to avoid scratches. There is nothing more annoying than going to see the time on your watch and it is completely scratched.
We have 3 general types of crystals for the watch face:
- Acrylic crystal
- Cristal mineral
- Sapphire crystal
All three have very different properties and different prices.
Acrylic glass also called Plexiglass or Hesalite is a form of transparent plastic. We usually find this type of glass in cheaper watches. The problem with it is that it scratches very easily, although it can be easily polished.
Mineral glass or Hardlex is also cheap and comes from silica. Its resistance to scratches is greater. It is easy to produce. It is less reflective than sapphire. Normally, it cannot be repaired.
Sapphire crystal is often found in premium watches. It is the hardest glass today. Many can be synthetic. Sapphire works well against scratches but can be broken by the impact. The crystal almost disappears when looking at the clock. It was the most expensive. This can not be fixed.
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And the manufacturing materials of the bracelets, watch straps?
|Type of material||Properties|
|Leather||Elegant, resistant, smooth. can not put into the water|
|Stainless steel||Durable, heavy, less comfortable|
|Titanium||Lightweight and scratch-resistant|
|Silicone or resin||comfortable and waterproof|
|Textile||Comfortable and waterproof. Perfect for very hot|
|Ceramics||Durable and will not scratch. Hypoallergenic. light|
Which is the best option? Well, it depends a lot on where and how you are going to use your watch. There’s nothing like not feeling your Casio resin band watch when you’re sleeping, but maybe you prefer a little more elegant leather when you go to a party, or stainless steel to last you a lifetime.
- Leather: It is a material that lasts a long time and is very comfortable to wear if it is of quality. Cow leather is often used. It is rigid but flexible, very resistant, and soft to the touch. It is elegant. The downside is that you can’t put it in the water.
- Stainless steel: It will last you a lifetime, although it can be easily scratched. It can be heavy and uncomfortable to wear, for example, at night while sleeping. The watch may be cold when you put it on.
- Titanium: Good choice if you want something less heavy than steel and more scratch-resistant. It is more expensive.
- Silicone or resin: popular for sports and casual watches. It is a comfortable material, however, it can break down over time if you expose it to a lot of sun or solvents. They are less elegant. Many colors are available. The resin is antiallergic. They are waterproof.
- Textile: the famous NATO. They are very comfortable in certain situations, for example in diving watches. They are usually made of nylon. It is the perfect material for summer and high temperatures. It does not give as much heat as the other options. Gives a sporty look to the watch. Waterproof.
- Ceramic: it will last you an eternity. Durable and will not scratch. It can be affected by impact blows (it is fragile). It is a hypoallergenic and light material.
Depending on how you use the watch, it is better to use one type of strap or another. Right now, there are many models with quick-release straps, it is very easy to change them without much effort.
It’s more difficult to shorten steel or titanium bracelets that have pins, as you need the right tools to do so (or take them to a watchmaker).
- It may interest you: How to choose the size of a watch? Ultimate Guide
Why do you have an allergic reaction to your watch?
Easy. There is some material present in your watch that does not go very well with your skin. Redness and itching may appear and you may find it unbearable to have the watch on your wrist.
As your skin perspires (with sweat), metal ions from the bracelet or case can be extracted from it and end up on your skin causing an allergic reaction. You have dermatitis.
What metals usually cause these allergic reactions? Metals such as nickel, cobalt, or chrome, are present both in stainless steel and in bracelets of all kinds (chrome is used to dye leather bracelets).
- Nickel is used in all kinds of jewelry (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, or watches). It is the fifth most common element on earth. It is used so much because it does not corrode or rust easily.
You should consult your doctor to find out exactly what you are allergic to so that you can wisely buy your next watch.
What are the symptoms of nickel allergy? Nickel allergy signs and symptoms include:
- Rash or bumps on the skin
- Itching, which can be severe
- Redness or changes in skin color
- Dry patches of skin that may look like a burn
- Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases
What type of watch is usually recommended if you are allergic to the above metals? You should buy a watch made of titanium if you want a premium watch, and if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, watches made of plastic or resin are recommended.
- Do Casio watches work? Maybe a high-end Casio G-shock. Please note that the back is usually stainless steel. Casio probably uses 304 or 316 steels, steels with little nickel. Try them first.
Why is titanium hypoallergenic? Due to the natural oxide layer that covers the metal, it serves two functions: it prevents the titanium from oxidizing, and it prevents it from interacting with the skin.
Could you be allergic to one stainless steel and not another? You may have different ratios because each steel has a different composition. It depends on the composition grade of the stainless steel. You can see it on Wikipedia.
- Many recommend buying 304, 316L, or 430 stainless steel, steels that release less than 0.03 micrograms/cm²/week of nickel in artificial sweat and do not cause reactions in patients already sensitized to nickel.
What other options do you have to avoid allergies? You have to look for watches made with nickel-free stainless steel, surgical-grade stainless steel, titanium, 18-karat gold, or sterling silver. Surgical-grade stainless steel may contain some nickel but is generally considered hypoallergenic for most people.
Conclusion: Which watch to buy based on the manufacturing material
You have to study your needs very well and know very well the properties of the different materials.
It is interesting to know where and when you are going to wear the watch (hard work, elegant dinners, informal situations) or if you are going to put it in the water or think that you might drop it.
If you are allergic to nickel, you have to be especially careful with the materials that your watch is going to have.
More watch recommendations? In addition to all the options we have given you, you have a few more here: