Metals Used in Luxury Watches

For a number of years, luxury timepieces were crafted in solid gold and that was the standard, go-to metal for watch manufactures. As time has elapsed, we have seen an introduction of a variety of new metals that have taken the watch world by storm. While 18k gold is still the top metal of choice in luxury timepieces, the entrance of steel, titanium, platinum and ceramic timepieces has offered watch enthusiasts a welcomed choice.

Our collection of luxury Swiss watches and timepieces offers a brilliant amalgamation of choices for our clients. Each metal has its benefits for durability, cost consideration and aesthetic appeal, making the decision often times come down to personal preference.


Gold may be used to make the watch cases, bezels, bracelets and the most precious parts of the movement. However, gold in its pure state is too malleable, and thus other metals and alloyed to it: silver, copper, and palladium, to give it the necessary hardness and mechanical resistance. These alloys also mean the color of the gold can be yellow, white, or red/pink.

To create 18k gold, the standard in luxury watches, 75% pure gold is combined with various combinations of metals to create the perfect color.

Yellow Gold

To create the beautiful color of yellow gold, pure gold is alloyed with a combination of silver and copper. The bold color creates a timeless and classic look for a fine timepiece that will never go out of style.

White Gold

To create the stunning color of white gold, pure gold is alloyed with a combination of nickel, copper, zinc and palladium. A common color choice in watches, white gold is a more subtle look over yellow gold.

Red/Pink/Everose Gold

To create red or pink gold, pure gold is alloyed with a combination of copper and silver. Rolex’s Everose gold uses platinum in their combination as well. Recognized for its distinctive color, it is a very popular and fashionable option in watches today.


Known as the powerhouse metal, platinum is a popular metal choice for luxury watches. Platinum is usually 95% pure and naturally white so it will not fade or tarnish. Like titanium, platinum is hypoallergenic so it is ideal for those with sensitive skin. This incredible metal is about 30 times more rare than gold.

The density of platinum gives it incredible durability. When platinum scratches, none of the volume is lost; the metal is simply displaced as ridges are raised on the edge of the scratch. As platinum is worn, it develops a patina-like appearance that can be polished again and again because it is simply moving the metal around, not wearing it down. Other precious metals lose material over time, but this isn’t the case with platinum.


Steel graded as 316 LS is the benchmark for the material used by high quality watchmakers. This metal is an alloy of iron, chromium and nickel, making it highly resistant and malleable. Steel is also known for its inability to be tempered and for its incredible polished finish.

The small inclusion of nickel makes steel hypoallergenic. Different watch manufactures will use different grades of steel in the production of their timepieces. For instance, Rolex uses 904L steel which is a medical grade super alloy steel exclusive to Rolex.


Titanium is a grey metal that is as strong as steel, but 45% lighter. Known for being extremely durable, titanium possesses the highest strength-to-weight ratio. This hypo allergenic metal is separated into 28 different grades of titanium. Grades 1-4 are pure titanium and are used for its high resistance to corrosion.

The remaining 23 grades of titanium contain alloys because of its high strength to weight ratio. Titanium is typically alloyed with aluminum, nickel, palladium, or other metals.

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