With the glittering holiday season upon us, we thought it a fitting time to take a look at a rare, yet glistening, material used in luxury watchmaking: Platinum. They say that if we took all of the platinum ever mined and put it in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, the platinum would barely reach your ankles — attesting to its rarity. While approximately 2,700 tons of gold are mined a year, just 80 tons of platinum are mined annually.
Considered the most precious metal found on Earth, platinum is used as a watch case material only by the finest brands in the world. In its purest form, this heavy, dense metal is difficult to work. As such, it is sometimes mixed with a tiny amount of copper that helps make it a bit more malleable. So, if you are looking at the markings of a platinum watchcase, it will typically read “Platinum 95”— meaning that it is 95 percent pure platinum. To be called platinum, the entire piece must be at least 95 percent platinum.
A warmer white tone than stainless steel, platinum is not necessarily easily identifiable to the average person, so wearing a platinum watch on your wrist is like having your own quiet secret.
In addition to being rare, highly pure and a coveted secret on the wrist, a platinum watch has a few other advantages. Among them: it is hypoallergenic, and it has a nice density – meaning it will feel good on the wrist. Interestingly enough, platinum can build a patina over time, and that adds to the charm of the piece, especially in the case of a watch that may yield a retro feel.
In fact, when platinum is scratched, the scratch doesn’t really scratch the metal away, it just moves it – forming ridges or bumps that can add to the vintage appeal. Don’t like the patina? No problem, platinum can be polished as often as necessary without eroding. Of course, because of its rarity, platinum watch cases cost more than gold. It may well be worth it, though, because a platinum watch will hold its value for generations.