The majority of watch collectors are enthralled by stainless steel wristwatches. Stainless steel is commonly used in wristwatches. Although gold, titanium, ceramics, and carbon are frequently used, stainless steel provides excellent rigidity at a low cost. This is why stainless steel wristwatches are prized by brands like Rolex and others.
When choosing a wristwatch material, what factors should you consider? There are two main factors to think about. The first is that some people may experience allergic reactions or rashes when exposed to stainless steel materials. Second, it is resistant to a variety of conditions, including hand washing and high impact. Corrosion and shock resistance are particularly important properties that must withstand temperature changes and not fade over time. These facts should be taken into account. Let’s look into these iconic stainless steel timepieces in more detail.
Rolex and the Origins of the 904L
Rolex, one of the most well-known luxury watch brands, places a premium on the use of specific stainless steel types. It uses Type 904L instead of the more common 316. Although 904L is more difficult to manufacture and contains additional materials such as chromium, molybdenum, nickel, and copper, it has several advantages and it has a harder surface, is more acid resistant, and appears brighter, making it ideal for modern wristwatches that are both functional and decorative.
Rolex uses 904L with the utmost care and precision. Rolex had to design its tools to work with 904L stainless steel because it is harder than other types of stainless steel. Rolex casts and scans the material it receives from its steel suppliers. Steel that does not meet Rolex’s standards is returned, and the approved steel is re-melted and hardened to remove any inclusions. Rolex wristwatches that use 904L stand out because they appear more polished, warmer, and age exceptionally well.
Since 1985, Rolex has used 904L in watch cases, and since 2006, it has also used 904L in the band. With watch enthusiasts, the debate between 904L and 316L continues. Although some may argue that due to nickel sensitivities, 940L is not required, 316L and 904L are both well-known materials that are even used in medical devices.
Why Should You Wear A Steel Watch?
When considering the qualities that make stainless steel watches desirable, it’s best to start with the most obvious – the aesthetics. Steel watches are inherently appealing, especially when paired with a full steel bracelet. This could be because it has become the standard look for modern watches. Stainless steel is used in the manufacture of a large number of watches today. It’s a look we’ve all seen before, and one that we’ve all grown up with.
Stainless steel is an extremely tough metal and gets its name from the fact that “rustless” steel doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it is essentially the same thing. And for an item that will be exposed to the environment day in and day out if worn as intended, this is quite valuable. The fact that a mechanical wristwatch could keep ticking forever is one of the most fascinating aspects of it. That is, as long as the free movement is ensured. This is possible thanks to the movement’s inherently inert stainless steel alloy. Not only by not reacting chemically with its surroundings but also by enduring daily abuse and maintaining structural integrity.
Which is Better: 304, 316L, or 904L?
When it comes to creating great timepieces, every watch enthusiast knows that materials are crucial. What metal is used to make a watch? What is the best metal for wristwatches? Large watch brands are even more aware of this, which is why each of them chooses materials for their high-end products with great care.
Stainless steel is a steel alloy in the technical sense and also known as inox, which means inoxidable because it contains at least 10.5 percent chromium in addition to carbon and iron, as well as a variety of other elements depending on the subgroup. Stainless steel is further divided into groups based on additional elements that enter the equation of their chemical formulas. Let’s look at the most common stainless steel alloys used in the manufacture of watches and watch bands:
Stainless Steel Grade 304
In general, stainless steel alloy 304 is the most commonly used. Pipes and cookware, for example, are made from Type 304. It was invented in 1924, and according to its properties, which determine its price and use, it is still the most accessible type of stainless steel. As a result, stainless steel watch bands and watches are typically considered low-cost. Because of its low cost and ease of shaping into finished products, it is widely used. In comparison to the other two types, 316L and 904L, it is more prone to corrosion.
Stainless Steel Grade 316L
Is the second most common steel grade and has a higher resistance to corrosion and acids. It is commonly used to make surgical instruments, hence the name Surgical steel. It’s also used in the petrochemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries, nuclear reprocessing, and marine applications due to its high resistance to chlorides. Stainless Steel Grade 316L is used in products that demand a lot of welding because it is more stable in high-temperature and high-corrosion conditions than type 316. As a result, most high-end watches and watch bands are made of 316L stainless steel.
Stainless Steel Grade 904L
Because of its high resistance to acids and the fact that it is the most expensive material, it is marked as N08904 in UNS and used for building piping systems such as heat, pollution control, and bleaching equipment. It is more expensive than 316L and more difficult to process. In general, when it comes to watches, RX (luxury Swiss watch) uses this type of stainless steel the most. RX refers to it as a corrosion-resistant super-alloy, and they’ve been using it exclusively in watchmaking since 2003. It polishes beautifully, giving RX watches a distinctive look.
So, what’s the best material for a watch and a watch band for you? a high-end timepiece or super-cool stainless steel watch bands for men and women do not require sacrificing luxury or breaking the bank. As a result, stainless steel timepieces that you should consider are the one which is highly resistant to moisture and perspiration and stainless steel watch that is also less likely to cause skin irritation. Remember that a good watch is made of stainless steel at the very least.
Consider the purpose of your watch, and making a choice will be much easier. Finally, the best watch available will always be different for each individual. As a result, you can go to a jeweler to see what suits you best.