Stainless steel is kind of like the selvedge denim of the watch world. It’s classic, hard-wearing, and looks cool with just about everything. As the go-to material for sports watches for the last century or so, steel has proven itself equally suited to luxury grails like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and affordable beaters like the Seiko 5. But as popular as the material is, it’s not the only metal variant—or even the best metal variant—used to build high-quality watches.
You might know titanium as the space-age material used in Formula 1 cars, jet engines, high-end road bikes, and other things that look cool and cost a lot of money—but it’s becoming an increasingly common sight in the watch world, too. Lighter than steel, stronger than aluminum, and highly corrosion-resistant, titanium is having a big moment right now thanks to a bunch of recent high-profile drops from Switzerland’s biggest luxury brands. But if your budget doesn’t quite allow for a shiny Vacheron Constantin Overseas or Omega Seamaster Ultra Deep, Citizen’s brand new Garrison watch offers a similar vibe (and the same exceptional lightness and durability) for a fraction of the cost.
A classic three-hand sports watch, the Garrison hits the bullseye on everyday wearability with its 42mm Super Titanium case and bracelet, aviation-inspired dial, and a scratch-proof sapphire crystal. While it’s not the only decent sub-$500 watch made from the high-performance alloy, it does have an important advantage on the competition: Citizen’s been working with titanium longer than anyone else. The brand launched the world’s first titanium timepiece, the X-8 Cosmotron Chronometer, in 1970, and they’ve been tinkering with the recipe ever since.
Fifty years later, their proprietary Super Titanium is five times harder than stainless steel and highly scratch-resistant, with the same lustrous polished finish as a classic steel sports watch. (The new Garrison also comes equipped with Citizen’s Eco-Drive, a light-powered movement that makes changing your watch battery a nuisance of the past.) If a classic steel sports watch is a pair of bulletproof 12 oz. jeans, the all-titanium Garrison is lightweight stretch denim. You’ll definitely feel the difference—and you might never go back.