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With brands in the market turning to the metal as a lighter, more durable and visually aggressive alternative to traditional stainless steel, titanium is more prominent than ever in today’s watch industry. Despite its current prevalence and the material’s ultra-modern reputation, titanium is far from a new development in watchmaking, and no brand understands this better than Citizen. Citizen introduced the world’s first titanium watch, the X-8 Chronometer, in 1970 and the Japanese watchmaking giant has spent more than half a century refining and perfecting titanium. The result of this dedication and constant innovation is Super Titanium, a citizen proprietary material that offers a wide range of benefits unmatched by any other manufacturer.
Citizen can lay the revolutionary properties of Super Titanium at the feet of two important advances. The first of these is Citizen’s unique titanium processing techniques. Although it comes with many physical advantages, titanium is difficult to work with for several reasons. The hardness that makes titanium so resilient makes titanium a slow and wear-inducing process for most factory equipment, but the nuances of titanium processing go deeper. Beyond the obvious hardness of the metal, machining titanium also creates chemically active filings that attach to drill bits and break tools at an accelerated rate. Surprisingly, titanium is also soft and ductile. It may not be as sticky as glue, but because raw titanium reacts with atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen, when placed in an industrial press, the titanium bond to the base metal of the press mold and become difficult to remove. leading to severe structural deformity. Also, polishing titanium requires special procedures due to the crystalline structure of the metal. Even if the manufacturer uses a polish strong enough to break through the hardness of titanium, using traditional polishing methods can result in an uneven, “orange peel” surface. Instead, Citizen uses a careful mix of polishing techniques to overcome metal’s unique difficulties and create a beautiful shine. Through decades of experience and research in manufacturing titanium cases, Citizen has developed proprietary technologies for each of these manufacturing challenges.
The other half of Super Titanium’s unique strengths come from Citizen’s exclusive Duratect surface hardening technology. As most enthusiasts know, raw titanium is an amazing metal. But its hardness is lower than stainless steel, so even when polished to a beautiful mirror-like surface, it’s surprisingly easy to scratch and lose its luster. Durect solves the problem nicely. Thanks to Duratect, Citizen can produce superbly polished titanium watches with immense scratch resistance. Duratect-treated titanium is fully five times more scratch-proof than stainless steel. In addition, Duratect-treated titanium can be imbued with different color tones that cannot be achieved with untreated titanium. Duratect is a versatile process – Citizen uses processes to coat the base titanium material, harden the original titanium surface, or both, depending on the unique material requirements of each watch model. One of Citizen’s core technologies used for Duratect technology is referred to as Duratect MRK, which was first patented by the brand in 1997. Duratect MRK hardens the surface of titanium through a combination of gas treatment, vacuum exposure and high-intensity heating. The depth is dozens of times thicker than conventional hard surface coating.
The benefits of this intensive super titanium material system speak for themselves. Super Titanium not only has all the material advantages of untreated titanium, but in addition to being 40 percent lighter than stainless steel, rust-free, and completely hypoallergenic, this unique material has virtually none of the drawbacks of titanium. Super Titanium offers world-class scratch resistance, is manufactured in a vibrant spectrum of tones and colors, and can be polished to a brilliant mirror shine. The material was so effective that HAKUTO-R even provided Citizen Super Titanium components for the commercial lunar exploration program.
Closer to the ground, the material strength and aesthetic beauty of Super Titanium can be seen throughout Citizen’s product lineup, especially in sports models like the Citizen ProMaster Dive Automatic 200M NB6004-83E pictured here (view a full review of this model here on aBlogtoWatch). Not only does the super titanium case, bezel and bracelet exude rugged dive-ready style, but the material’s unique combination of properties make it a perfect fit for the high-impact, potentially chaotic and surprisingly corrosive world of deep-sea diving.
At a time when titanium is more popular than ever among watch enthusiasts, Citizen continues to prove that the first brand to make a titanium timepiece still knows the material well. With its innovative Super Titanium material, Citizen creates designs that consistently outperform the competition both technically and visually. To know more about the Citizens line-up of watches made of Super Titanium, Please visit the brand website.
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