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

Titanium Apple Watch Series 5

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.

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.