Hands on: Titanium Apple Watch Edition Series 5 is worth the extra cost

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in Apple Watch
AppleInsider goes hands-on with the new titanium Apple Watch Edition Series 5 to find out if this durable new case design is worth its premium cost.

Titanium Apple Watch Series 5
Titanium Apple Watch Series 5


For everything new this year, much of Apple Watch Series 5 looks familiar. It has the same physical size and screen as the Series 4, the same red circle around the Digital Crown if you have the cellular model. The aluminum and stainless steel come in the same finishes as they did. Even the new ceramic is really a re-launch of the case Apple discontinued in 2018.

Enter: Titanium.






This case material really is entirely new, it hasn't been used on any Apple Watch before -- not even back with the first version when Apple attempted high-end gold models.

Just because Apple hasn't used it in the Apple Watch before, though, doesn't mean that this is the first watch to be cased in it. Titanium has often been used for very high-end watches and now Apple is turning to it to make its newest timepiece appeal to that same market -- and also, to be fair, to be extra durable.

Titanium Apple Watch Series 5
Titanium Apple Watch Series 5 has a brushed appearance


Available in space black and silver, the titanium Apple Watch sits in the lineup above the stainless steel and below the ceramic, at least in terms of pricing.

Since choosing any Apple Watch above the basic model is as much about aesthetics as it is anything practical, we succumbed to just picking the version that looked the nicest to us. We've long been fans of the space black color in the stainless steel Apple Watch, so it was that in titanium, or nothing.

Apple Watch goes titanium

Titanium is a fantastic material for watches as it is very strong, durable, and lightweight. It also looks particularly sharp and unique in Apple's implementation.

Titanium Apple Watch (center) with the aluminum (right) and stainless steel (left)
Titanium Apple Watch (center) with the aluminum (right) and stainless steel (left)


There is a difference between this use of titanium and other high-end watches, though, in that Apple says it uses a "natural titanium finish" to give that brushed look you see.

The silver version of the titanium Apple Watch does have a slightly more prominent brushed appearance. Space black is a tad more subtle, though, and uses the same diamond-like coating (DLC) that is employed for the stainless steel.

Then to enhance the durability, Apple has developed its own coating that will prevent yellowing and staining. That's previously often been an issue for titanium as the material is porous.

Compared to aluminum and stainless steel

If we're not even going to try quantifying the looks of the space black titanium Apple Watch, then the only real question is whether the combination of appearance and durability is worth it. Specifically, whether it's worth spending the extra over the other materials.

A 40mm space black titanium Apple Watch costs $799 for the non-cellular version, and the 44mm one is $849. You obviously pay more for the cellular one, but you can also pay over this depending on the strap you choose.

Titanium Apple Watch (top) with the aluminum (center) and stainless steel (bottom)
Titanium Apple Watch (top) with the aluminum (center) and stainless steel (bottom)


In comparison, the basic stainless steel version costs $699 or $749. And the aluminium is $399 or $429.

That is a gap of around $400 between the aluminium and the titanium models, which might be a bit hard to justify. However, if you were considering the stainless steel, you should spring for the titanium.

It is the best of both worlds when compared against both the aluminum and the steel.

While it probably represents the great majority of Apple Watches sold, aluminum, is very lightweight and really just too light for our taste. It can also get some nasty scratches, which will ruin that matte finish.

Steel on the other hand, is heavy. The glossy finish also catches fingerprints like no-other. And if you have ever worn the silver stainless steel, you will see by the end of the day how many tiny micro scratches encompass the surface.

Which means titanium fits plushly in the middle. The weight is right there between aluminum and steel -- not too light, not too heavy. It resists both fingerprints and scratches better than either of the others.

Stainless steel attracts fingerprints more than the titanium
Stainless steel attracts fingerprints more than the titanium


Simply put, titanium is in many ways the ideal material for Apple Watch.

We've truly been on the fence about which Apple Watch Series 5 to choose: the stainless steel or titanium. After spending some time with the titanium and coming from stainless steel, it is an easy decision -- titanium all the way.

Where to buy

The titanium Apple Watch Series 5 is available from Apple directly, with a starting price of $799.

Those looking for the best deal on the Apple Watch 5 with an aluminum or stainless steel case can find discounts on a variety of styles in our Apple Watch 5 Price Guide, which is updated throughout the day.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    Do you have a link for the leather bands that were used in this video or are those Hermes bands?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 43
    "A 40mm space black titanium Apple Watch costs $799 for the non-cellular version, and the 44mm one is $849. You obviously pay more for the cellular one,"

    correct me if i'm wrong but the titanium doesn't have an option for the "non-cellular version"
    randominternetpersonkpomel_capitan_morganrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 43
    I've had the black aluminum Nike model both in Series 2 and Series 4....I am a personal trainer and spend 8-10 hours in a gym banging it around. Has yet to show a scratch. 

    I've seen a few youtube videos that people say the titanium looks a little cheap and to the average on-looker they won't know the difference between the aluminum vs the titanium. I'm not a fan of the light gray aluminum as I think it looks cheap.

    Im thinking of getting the silver stainless steel for the premium look. Would love to hear anyone's opinion with their experience...
    edited September 24 viclauyycneo-techwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 43
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,516member
    Outdoors, in daylight, reflections off the glass face of the aluminum watch are enough to impair legibility of the always-on display quite a bit. I can't imagine the more reflective, less transparent sapphire face on the premium watches will be very legible at all. I love the look of the Space Black finish, but the weight is unsuitable for sports. The titanium models are not much lighter (which is of course a qualitative assessment ;-).

    Pretty sure the watches are mislabeled in the penultimate photo. The middle watch looks like the shiny surfaced Space Black stainless steel, not aluminum.

    Between titanium and aluminum, which is the bigger fingerprint magnet?
    edited September 24 thtrundhvid
  • Reply 5 of 43
    The frustrating part for me is the black titanium is not available anywhere in my area and Apple is backordered until the end of Nov.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 43
    robjnrobjn Posts: 248member
    The articles states that titanium is more ”durable” and calls attention to the materials ”strength”.

    “Strength” refers to physical properties that describe how much force it takes to either permanently deform or break something. Whilst titanium is strong for its weight, there’s no reason for anyone to be concerned that a steel or aluminum case is going to get bent out of shape.

    When it comes to surface hardness the 316L cold forged stainless steel is generally harder than titanium alloy. This means the stainless might actually be more resistant to scratches and dents than the titanium.

    Apple do have some kind of nano-coating on the titanium. This prevents it from picking up the ugly oxidization that raw titanium is susceptible to. It is possible that this coating also adds scratch resistance.

    It is a little sad from an engineering point of view that Apple didn’t take advantage of the strength to weight ratio of titanium by milling out more material to make the Watch as light as the aluminum. People tend to associate more expensive/higher quality products with heaviness. One influential watch blogger even said the aluminum Apple Watch feels cheap because it does not have substantial weight.
    caladanian
  • Reply 7 of 43
    hayward i have a 44mm in box unopened... i went and used it in store before it arrived and i prefer the weight and look of the stainless so went back to that. Let me know
    edited September 24 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 43
    I want to know if the Space Black titanium looks good with the Space Black Link Bracelet that came with the original SS Space Black Apple Watch. Do the colors match up well?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 43
    NY1822 said:
    "A 40mm space black titanium Apple Watch costs $799 for the non-cellular version, and the 44mm one is $849. You obviously pay more for the cellular one,"

    correct me if i'm wrong but the titanium doesn't have an option for the "non-cellular version"
    That's correct, the titanium models only come in cellular.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 43
    I think the title is bullocks.  Basically the article just articulates the author's preference rather than any objective data.  For instance, he highlights the titanium watch's supposed imperviousness relative to the $400 cheaper aluminum watch.  Sure, in theory, titanium is "stronger" than aluminum, but in practice your aluminum watch will likely never get scratches - I've had Watch 1, Watch 2 (because Watch 1's screen shattered falling from a locker room locker), and Watch 4 - all aluminum.  None of them ever scratched.  And, like another poster, I live a pretty active lifestyle.
    The author lists aluminum's weight (or lack thereof) as another reason for titanium's superiority - because while not lighter, it's "just right"?!?  I have always had the larger watch and have *always* wished it were a little lighter (and, even more so, a little thinner).   And, besides, with a Milanese loop stainless link band, you can always add weight, if you insist on more weight.

    Really the only reason I can think anybody will go for the more expensive materials Apple sells is to show off.  And judging by the photos the author provides, you can't even easily do that with the Titanium watch as, in black at least, it's pretty much indistinguishable from the other two finishes.  So if you want to show off, you gotta go enamel.
    wd4fsusuperjunaidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 43
    Do you have a link for the leather bands that were used in this video or are those Hermes bands?
    I’d love to know this too. I have the original, discontinued black leather classic buckle but after 4 years or so it is showing a bit of wear. A replacement would be nice. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 43
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,687unconfirmed, member
    tjwolf said:
    I think the title is bullocks.  Basically the article just articulates the author's preference rather than any objective data.  For instance, he highlights the titanium watch's supposed imperviousness relative to the $400 cheaper aluminum watch.  Sure, in theory, titanium is "stronger" than aluminum, but in practice your aluminum watch will likely never get scratches - I've had Watch 1, Watch 2 (because Watch 1's screen shattered falling from a locker room locker), and Watch 4 - all aluminum.  None of them ever scratched.  And, like another poster, I live a pretty active lifestyle.
    The author lists aluminum's weight (or lack thereof) as another reason for titanium's superiority - because while not lighter, it's "just right"?!?  I have always had the larger watch and have *always* wished it were a little lighter (and, even more so, a little thinner).   And, besides, with a Milanese loop stainless link band, you can always add weight, if you insist on more weight.

    Really the only reason I can think anybody will go for the more expensive materials Apple sells is to show off.  And judging by the photos the author provides, you can't even easily do that with the Titanium watch as, in black at least, it's pretty much indistinguishable from the other two finishes.  So if you want to show off, you gotta go enamel.

    Hermes seems to be the fancy one to show off. Edition has been a letdown.
  • Reply 13 of 43
    Not a fan of the brushed look, I'll be going stainless steel with my next one.

    Anyone notice how all metal band connectors are glossy and only match the stainless steel watches? I don't think they're going to look much better with the titanium models.
    svanstromwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 43

    robjn said:
    Apple do have some kind of nano-coating on the titanium. This prevents it from picking up the ugly oxidization that raw titanium is susceptible to. It is possible that this coating also adds scratch resistance.
    The coating is a bit weird. For the first couple of days it felt tacky and rubbery. But now it has seemingly “dried” and feels very solid. This gives me a bit of hope that it is durable. I was skeptical at first.
    caladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 43
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,519member
    NY1822 said:

    people say the titanium looks a little cheap and to the average on-looker they won't know the difference between the aluminum vs the titanium. I'm not a fan of the light gray aluminum as I think it looks cheap.

    The last thing that concerns me is what other people think. I buy the watch I like for whatever reason move me. People who're say something 'looks cheap' firstly probably can't tell the difference between diamond and cubic zirconia. 

    If 'other people' aren't paying for it, they have zero input to me. If they are, they still don't have any input. So either way they can pound salt.
    docno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 43
    NY1822 said:
    Im thinking of getting the silver stainless steel for the premium look. Would love to hear anyone's opinion with their experience...
    I have the Series 4 Stainless Steel and it has held up very well. I wore it every day and night for a year and I don’t see any noticeable scratches. I switched to the Titanium but if that didn’t exist I would have been happy to get another SS Series 5.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 43
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,751member
    I bought an AW4 for my SO last Xmas because she really wanted one.  A few months later, I eventually inherited it as she stopped using it.  I guess I too am not in market-segment for an Apple watch.  I do like it and it but I cannot for the life of me understand what the big deal is with it.  It's more a nuisance for me to figure out how to use it to benefit me, and I'm all in on the Apple-wagon.  I want to like it but it just doesn't inspire me to use it.  

    I rarely use watches, but when I do I prefer to wear my Suunto D6i dive watch as I actually use it for diving and its integrated dive-computer/air-pressure system and when not in the water, it is a really, really good-looking masculine watch (imho).  

    Now... the day Apple figures out how to do diabetic blood-sugar testing (if ever), I will be on that the moment it's announced.  Until then, my AW4 continues to remain in its charger on the table until I figure out what to do with it.
  • Reply 18 of 43
    Really the only reason I can think anybody will go for the more expensive materials Apple sells is to show off.  And judging by the photos the author provides, you can't even easily do that with the Titanium watch as, in black at least, it's pretty much indistinguishable from the other two finishes.  So if you want to show off, you gotta go enamel.

    It's not necessarily about "showing off" exactly.  People like nice things, beautiful things.  I'm sure there are introverted recluses with fancy watches that no one but themselves will see.  For example, I have a really nice pen that I really like.  I couldn't care less if anyone ever sees it or comments on it.  It's just a nice pen.  Same goes for something like an Apple Watch.

    I'm not saying no one likes to show off, ever, but showing off isn't the whole story.

    anantksundaramcaladanianStrangeDaysdocno42watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 43
    NY1822 said:
    I've had the black aluminum Nike model both in Series 2 and Series 4....I am a personal trainer and spend 8-10 hours in a gym banging it around. Has yet to show a scratch. 

    I've seen a few youtube videos that people say the titanium looks a little cheap and to the average on-looker they won't know the difference between the aluminum vs the titanium. I'm not a fan of the light gray aluminum as I think it looks cheap.

    Im thinking of getting the silver stainless steel for the premium look. Would love to hear anyone's opinion with their experience...
    I’ve had the silver stainless steel twice (currently have the black stainless steel which is even more beautiful), and I can say that both of those Watches served me very well. Almost no scratches at all on either. And quite classy looking. 
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 43
    NY1822 said:
    I've had the black aluminum Nike model both in Series 2 and Series 4....I am a personal trainer and spend 8-10 hours in a gym banging it around. Has yet to show a scratch. 

    I've seen a few youtube videos that people say the titanium looks a little cheap and to the average on-looker they won't know the difference between the aluminum vs the titanium. I'm not a fan of the light gray aluminum as I think it looks cheap.

    Im thinking of getting the silver stainless steel for the premium look. Would love to hear anyone's opinion with their experience...
    I've had both aluminum and regular stainless steel. The SS is super shiny when new, but over time accumulates micro-abrasions depending on your lifestyle (ex I have cats & dogs, live in a space with bricks, etc). Its screen is sapphire crystal and remains flawless. My sport model didn't get micro-abrasions, but did get a couple of nicks that went deeper than the space gray coating, and its glass screen got scratched. So I've been sticking to the SS even tho it costs more...besides a perfect screen I just think steel looks less like a techie gizmo and more like a normal watch.
    edited September 24 randominternetpersondocno42watto_cobra
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