Watches are available in a wide array of different materials and watch brands and manufacturers have been experimenting a lot with finding new materials over the centuries. They have worked to find materials that have special properties but also give a unique and appealing look to the watches. All to continue to push the boundaries and come up with new innovations.
All materials for watches have both pros and cons. In theory, you should look for a material that is as tough and durable as possible, but in that case, gold isn’t a material that should be used. With that said, in some cases, the pros of the appeal and look outweigh the importance of durability.
One material that has increased in popularity both by the general public, as well as watch brands, is ceramic. Most people wouldn’t possibly come up with the idea of making a watch in ceramic, but that’s also what makes it so unique and interesting. Brands like Hublot, Zenith, Audemars Piguet, Omega, Richard Mille are just some of the brands that have hopped on the ceramic watches bandwagon.
This is very interesting to see from an industry that is as traditional as the watch industry. And seeing that some of the most conservative brands have explored this material - and is continuing to do so - tells us that ceramic is a material that is likely here to stay for watches.
In fact, even perhaps the most conservative brand in the whole watch industry - Rolex - has been experimenting with ceramic. Now, Rolex has not yet dared to take the step to make full ceramic watches, but you can find that the bezels of some of its professional models featuring a ceramic bezel.
Should you buy ceramic watches? - Pros and cons
Well, as mentioned, ceramic is a material that has both pros and cons. Let’s look at some of these so you can make a decision according to that.
Ceramic is virtually scratch-free
One of the greatest benefits of ceramic is that it is virtually scratch-proof. Manufacturers have, for a long time, worked to find materials that did not scratch, considering the two main materials for watches have always been gold and steel.
Manufacturers’ goal is to keep their watches looking perfect for as long as possible, but at the same time, scratches on stainless steel are inevitable.
But with ceramic, you won’t get the classic hairlines, nor swirls, or scratches on your watch. This is a unique thing about ceramic as it means that your watch will likely look just as good as new many years from now. And this is also one of the key things people who despise scratches appreciate about ceramic.
Ceramic is very light
Another appreciated aspect of ceramic watches is that they are very light. Ceramic weighs less than half of what stainless weighs, and when you put on a ceramic watch on the wrist, you can really feel the difference. If you enjoy light watches, ceramic is definitely a good choice of material.
Titanium is another popular material for those who want a watch with a low weight, but unlike ceramic, titanium scratches. In addition, ceramic is lighter than titanium and can rival aluminum on the scale.
Ceramic can crack
Probably the greatest downside of ceramic watches is that the ceramic can crack. If you drop your watch on the floor, the whole case can crack and is not repairable. Unlike stainless steel, for example, you cannot weld or polish a ceramic watch, and therefore, if the ceramic breaks, you will likely have to replace the whole case. This is a major downside as replacing a ceramic case on a luxury watch can cost up to thousands of dollars (depending on the model and the price of the watch of course).
This is one of the reasons why some people are scared of wearing ceramic watches.
But does ceramic break easily?
Well, the answer to that question is not really. Accidentally hitting the watch in a door or in a chair will likely leave the watch unaffected, but it is in contact with harder materials, in particular stone, that the watch can break. Dropping the watch on the floor - especially if it is a stone floor - is probably the worst thing that can happen to a ceramic watch, as it will likely crack and break, so you want to be very careful with this. Make sure you are also very careful with the watch when you are close to hard objects, for example, objects made in steel.
Ceramic is Hypoallergenic
Ceramic watches have become popular amongst individuals who have sensitive skin such as nickel allergies. This is because ceramic as a material is hypoallergenic and can be worn without any issues with allergies or skin reactions.
Ceramic watches are difficult to make
Due to the nature of ceramic, making ceramic watches is a difficult process for the manufacturer. Whilst this only adds to the appeal of ceramic watches for many wearers, the small downside of this is that ceramic watches tend to be more expensive than their stainless steel counterparts.
However, this can be both a pro and con for ceramic watches. Whilst ceramic watches are more difficult to make than stainless steel for the manufacturer, the complexity in a timepiece is often what watch enthusiasts appreciate about a watch. After all, we wouldn’t buy wristwatches with complicated movements otherwise. This is part of the reason why brands like Audemars Piguet make, for example, ceramic watches with annual calendar functions in them. With this, you have a watch that is complicated both when it comes to its movement, but also when it comes to its case and bracelet. This is the ultimate combination and a true testimony of fine craftsmanship.
The appearance of ceramic won’t change
Scratches are one thing, but ceramic will not change in its appearance, unlike some other materials. This includes things like oxidation, but also corrosion. Ceramic withstands chemical corrosion and therefore does not rust or corrode.
Over time, materials like steel and gold can oxidize, which can change its original luster and appearance. Stainless steel may in turn also rust. But not ceramic. Ceramic will continue to look just like new even after several years. In addition, the material is unaffected by ultraviolet rays, which means the color won’t fade.
Ceramic is heat-resistant
Another popular benefit of ceramic watches is that ceramic is heat-resistant. With that said, ceramic will remain relatively cool, even in warm environments with direct sunlight. This is appropriate if you are in a warm climate, but also if you find it annoying when your stainless steel watch becomes very hot. There are also professions that involve working in warm environments, and in these cases, a ceramic watch may be a good idea.
It gives a unique and stylish appearance
Last but not least, we have the obvious fact that the use of ceramic in a watch makes for a unique and very stylish appearance. The finish of ceramic depends completely on how the manufacturer treats it during the manufacturing process. But ceramic can e made to have a polished surface, but also a matte or brushed surface. When ceramic is polished, it gets a beautiful and shiny luster. When it is brushed, you can really see the details and finishing of the brushing. With that said, the manufacturer can achieve a beautiful finish with a ceramic watch, which can be seen on, for example, the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 8 which has a unique and beautiful finishing.
All of this makes ceramic watches stand out from the ordinary and instantly be identified as something different and unique.