If you nerdishly follow the news, you may have noticed a growing international dispute over something called "rare-earth" minerals, a group of precious metals used to make smartphones and the like, which unfortunately sound as believable as the "unobtainium" that was supposedly the plot driver in Avatar. ("What plot?" you shout.)
Alas, the battle for rare-earth minerals in real life hasn't descended into man besieging giant blue humanoids holed up in unfathomably large trees … yet, but the rare-earth issue does highlight the fact that, unlike sunshine and smiles, precious metals are finite - and we're starting to run out of some of them. My advice is get your hands on some precious metal now. And why not start with a titanium watch?
Titanium watches are of course more expensive than steel ones, but they don't have to be prohibitive, as in the case of the Tag Heuer Formula 1 Quartz Chronograph Titanium Carbide Coated Edition (below left).
With only a coating of titanium and the quartz movement, the timepiece is priced at a very tempting HK$16,300. But the coat adds a huge amount of strength to the watch, making it perfect for those who lead more active lives.
The case is an evenly sized 42mm and the dial features three black chronograph counters that measure minutes, seconds and 1/10th of a second. Although it doesn't look it, the bezel is fixed and has a tachymeter indicator, adding more gloss to its sporty look. Water resistance is an impressive 200 metres, and with the rubber sports strap, you shouldn't ever worry about taking this watch for a swim. The dial design, all-black colour scheme and rubber strap of the Tag Heuer Formula 1 Quartz Chronograph Titanium Carbide Coated Edition wonderfully evoke the cut and thrust of the race, so this is a must for those living in the fast lane.
Another equally sporty watch is the Linde Werdelin Spidolite II Titanium (below right). We have previously featured the design triumph that is the Linde Werderlin Oktopus, but the Spidolite II Titanium more than holds its own, with a dial design that seems like something out of Swiss surrealist painter H.R. Giger's studio.
The watch has a lot of texture to it - a deliberate ploy to give it a more three-dimensional feel, particularly with the skeletonised movement. The inspiration for the watch, as with the Tag Heuer, comes from the world of motor racing, with the weight of the timepiece holding paramount importance. The use of titanium for the 44mm by 46mm casing obviously brings the weight down markedly but also gives it strength. Coupled with the robust design, the watch can take the toughest of knocks and is ready for the most energetic of sports. It is priced at HK$82,000.
Finally, we come to a titanium watch that is a little less sporty and a whole lot more conceptual. The limited-edition Girard-Perregaux DLC Titanium Bi-Axial Tourbillon (top right) is watch designed to perplex and astonish in equal measure. Featuring a large 45mm titanium case coated with DLC (diamond-like carbon), all the attention is drawn to the unique dial that features a bi-axial tourbillon that Girard-Perregaux says "combines two concentric cages that enable the regulating part to make multidimensional rotations", which in English means it's incredibly accurate and looks rather nifty.
The power reserve for a such a hungry watch is an impressive 72 hours, although features outside of the bi-axial tourbillon are limited to hours and minutes. Limited to eight pieces, the Girard-Perregaux DLC Titanium Bi-axial Tourbillon's price is available upon request.