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topic 32773

Are titanium or stainless steel watches more scratch resistant?

A discussion started in 2004 but continuing through 2017


Q. Which metal is more scratch resistant - titanium or stainless steel? This question is aimed at wristwatches.

Rakesh Ramthol
- Port Shepstone, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa


A. Titanium does make for a fairly stiff metals whereas the Chromium in stainless weakens it somewhat and makes it more prone to surface damage (just review some of the posts on here asking how to repair scratches in their stainless steel appliances).

The current industrial use of titanium lies in higher temperature applications where they do not want the metal to warp with the increased temperature, the best and toughest steels that I have ever worked with were cobalt tool steel (.7% cobalt I believe) and tungsten steel (5% tungsten) tungsten steels still rust so they are not used in decorative applications, cobalt steels do not rust easily but they are also prohibitively expensive for manufacturing. I do believe that you would be better off going with the titanium rather that the stainless, keep in mind any watch you buy will gather scratches from your day to day routine.

Depending on what you do for a living you may be better off just getting a cheap name brand and replacing it periodically and keeping a nice one at home for those special events, especially if you do labor intensive work.

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Tissot Titanium Watch


A. I have the opposite experience. I bought a Tissot T-Touch Titanium watch and I get scratches on the bracelet when I just touch a soft material like wood or plastic?

Mats Thuresson
- Sweden

September 15, 2009

A. I also bought the Tissot T-touch watch with the titanium band and it already has a couple scratches on it. I looked into this as I thought it was harder to scratch than steel. I discovered that it IS harder to scratch than steel, scoring 6.0 on the Mohrs Hardness scale compared to the 4 - 4.5 of steel. The reason to why it scratches is that Titanium oxidises easily and the surface dulls, this oxidised coating is less strong than the Titanium itself and as it is darker than the metal beneath scratches are more visible than they would be with stainless steel. Luckily the Tissot T-touch has a matte Titanium finish which is greatly preferable to a shiny finish as it can be easily polished in most jewelers.

James Raine
- Basel, Switzerland

June 8, 2012

thumbsdownI have the same experience with a Tissot titanium watch. At a price tag of double the steel version, it's not worth it. Two weeks into owning it the clasp is -completely- scratched up from typing on my aluminum laptop and there are scratches around the bezel as well. Much more scratch prone than my previous steel watch.

Martin Bednar
- San Francisco, California, USA

July 31, 2015

A. The experiences describing titanium watches and bands being easily scratched is most likely due to an illusion, as one commenter has accurately stated: it is most likely only the oxidization layer being scratched, and not the metal itself. This should be easy to polish away. But oxidization is unavoidable, and since this lends to the 'appearance' of scratches in the metal, stainless steel may well be a better option for maintaining a more consistently pristine look.

B. Jordan
- Prineville, Oregon, USA

October 22, 2015

thumbsdownPlease note, to the person who claims that the scratches may be an illusion, unfortunately that is incorrect. I have brought the Tissot titanium watch, and you can actually feel the profile of the scratches under your fingers. But regardless, finish or the titanium, for the price one pays for this watch and from a company like Tissot, it shouldn't happen to either the finish or the actual metal. What's the use of having a sapphire crystal face, meant not to scratch, when all the other surfaces around it mar and scratch so easily. This watch is not worth the money paid. I have contacted Tissot to have them replace it, since its only a couple of months old. I will wait to see if Tissot is a reputable company that stands behind their products, or one that walks away from their responsibility. An update will be posted once Tissot responds.

M. Fasulo
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada

April 27, 2017

A. It would appear many people posted without reading responses. It is the oxidation on a titanium watch which scrapes off, showing the actual titanium underneath. This is characteristic of the metal and is not a flaw.

As for going after Tissot for help? Been there, done that, and they are better known as "Swatch". Don't expect a replacement watch (read the fine print on the warranty), but they may offer you a replacement band and case for Two thirds what the watch cost.

I recently purchased a a Titanium case/band watch for my son and will be visiting the jeweler on occasion to have the oxidation buffed off along with the "scratches". Good information here if you stop to read it.

Peter Sirman
- Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

May 2017

thumbs up sign Thanks Peter. I guess it's to be expected that the bigger the internet grows, the less time people will spend on any one page :-)

I've been running this site for 22 years now and it's starting to get rare for people to actually post a new question rather than one that's already been asked & answered on that page :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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