904L steel is stainless steel alloy that is more resistant to corrosion than other steel, and is stronger in texture. Its polished watchcase and watchband are more attractive. According to the principle, Rolex 904L Stainless steel is better than other steel as the watch material, so why is Rolex the only watch brand that fully uses the 904L stainless steel so far?
The performance of 904L stainless steel is superior to other steels, but its processing difficulty and cost will be higher than ordinary steel, which is the main reason why many watch brands do not use it fully. In the early days of the brand, like other brands, Rolex used 316L stainless steel, and since 2003, all steel products have fully used 904L steel. In fact, in 1985, Rolex used the corrosive, rust-resistant 904L steel in a few versions of Sea-Dweller. But 904 steel has one drawback. It is difficult to process, so Rolex didn’t use it fully in its early days. In order to make full use of 904L steel in all steel products, Rolex replaced the whole production line’s processing equipment and tools, and the cost of the project is huge. It is estimated that only Rolex with the abundant wealth can do it.
Rolex is a brand that strives for excellence in quality. Even if it is a small part, it will try its best to do it. Quality, performance and craft are the only standard for Rolex watches, and it is precisely because of its strict requirements that Rolex has achieved the supremacy of watch. Those who know Rolex well must know Rolex parts are almost produced by itself. It has a strong research team which will spend a lot of time and energy in the process of research and development, and is obsessed with improving tabulation technology to make ordinary people enjoy the high-end professional products in daily life, for example, 904L steel is commonly used in high-end domains such as aerospace, ordinary people cannot get access to it, and only Rolex fully uses this material.
In a word, Rolex has good enough quality. It is accurate, durable and reliable, which are all Rolex’s brightest labels. 904L steel is better on material choice, but it is not widely used in the field of watch because the output is not high, and the cost is too big. Now, many kinds of watches and clocks still use 316L steel, so what’s the difference between 904L steel and 316L steel?
904L steel and 316L steel are the name of steel grade in the United States, that is, the standard steel grade of American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM). The metal content of 904L steel (chromium, nickel, molybdenum) is 1.6 times as much as that of 316L. More importantly, 904L steel contains a certain amount of copper, while 316L steel does not contain copper, but the amount of carbon, silicon, manganese and other metals of these two kinds of steel are similar. The differences in strength and hardness between these two types of steel are not large. Their RB is ≤ 95, and the intensity is almost 490MPa. But the higher alloy content of 904L steel with the addition of a small amount of copper makes 904L steel better than 316L steel in corrosion resistance and abrasion resistance. At the same time, the 904L steel will be heavier than 316L steel of the same volume, because its amount of molybdenum, nickel, copper is higher than 316L steel, and the proportion of these three kinds of metal is bigger than iron, so 904L steel has more massiness. This is also the brand image of Rolex: steadfast and steady.
What are the advantages of Rolex 904L Stainless Steel?
Modern 904L steel is mainly used in petrochemical equipment, water processor, storage sulfate reactor. This is a superaustenitic stainless steel of ultra-low carbon. The most important feature of 904L steel is corrosion resistance, so it was used in some highly corrosive environments in early period. 316L steel is low-carbon superaustenitic stainless steel added with alloy elements based on ordinary iron, but it has less anti-corrosion capability than 904L steel, so it is only used in medical equipment or household products. It can be said that 904L steel is more high-end than 316L steel. Because of the high cost, it is generally applied in the high-end field.
In 904 l steel, the main components are nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), chromium (Cr). In addition, carbon (maximum 0.02%), iron (Fe), silicon (Si), manganese (Mn), phosphorus (P), and other elements are lower in content, and the content of chromium is 19%-23%, nickel 23%-28%, molybdenum 4%-5%, copper 1%-2%, and manganese (Mn) is maximum 2%.
On the component elements, 904L steel is the same as 316L steel, but the former has more copper, and the two materials are different, mainly because of their different element content.
The copper element can effectively delay acidic liquids (especially chloride, the most common contact of watches is human sweat) to the corrosion of stainless steel, so 904L steel is more resistant to corrosion.
Carbon content has vital role for the stability of the stainless steel. The higher the carbon content is, the more chromium is consumed, and the weaker corrosion resistance becomes. This is also the reason why 904L steel can only contain a small amount of carbon. The ratio and the content of nickel and chromium can also greatly improve the corrosion resistance of material. The nickel with high content can make stainless steel remain very low corrosion rate in the active state; even in the sulfuric acid, nickel-chromium content of 904L is higher than that 316L, especially nickel, almost double 316L.
In fact, the most common situations faced by the watches we usually wear are abrasion and corrosion. Both 316Lsteel and 904L steel have no problem in terms of wear resistance, and the main problem is corrosion resistance. The electrochemical corrosion caused by sweat and damp air, or diving, will require higher requirements on the corrosion resistance of watches, so the materials of 904L steel are generally more durable.
However, in order to improve the corrosion resistance of the watch, 904L steel is used. The cost is too high, and it is estimated that only Rolex, which has been committed to improving the quality fully uses it. Rolex has always been relatively affordable, even though the cost has been raised, so the first choice for many of the people who buy the watches is Rolex. Certainly, if you think the real one is slightly more expensive, you might also consider Rolex replica watch, whose price is only one over ten of the real one, and even lower, but it has good workmanship and quality; it is also a good choice. For 904L steel, I will make no more information about it, so you can go to a website (https://kronoswatch.sc/) to learn more about it, and the introduction to the watch is very comprehensive.