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It has a reputation for hardiness over refinement, but even at the more rarefied end of the market, steel is having a bit of a moment. MH explains why it’s not always sensible to strive for gold
When watches first migrated from pockets to wrists, a hardwearing material was needed to protect them from the knocks they were set to sustain. In 1913, British metallurgist Harry Brearley offered a solution in the form of an alloy of iron, chromium and nickel that took the rough with the smooth. He called it rustless steel. You will know it by a different prefix: stainless steel.
It was revolutionary. But while it had the technical chops, stainless steel never garnered the prestige of precious metals such as gold. Cynics might say that, in the increasingly unsettled world economy, this is precisely why there seems to be a flourish in steely wrist candy. But watch retailer Sandy Madhvani begs to differ: “Yes, the prices are inviting, and yes, exchange rates have assisted foreign buyers,” he concedes. “But steel remains both constantly in demand and on trend, regardless of the economy. Crucially, manufacturers have been working to produce iconic styles that will always have a place in the watch world.”
So, for an affordable timepiece that will weather the hands of time and transcend the vagaries of fashion, steel is the real deal.