Technology has come a long way, gifting us a wide array of materials used for building your gadgets, cars and other stuff including your watches. Still, majority wristwatches are made of stainless steel, often coated with gold and titanium or wrapped in ceramics and carbon, offering an excellent rigidity at reasonable prices.
Steel withstands a variety of conditions. From warding off stains and corrosions to strong impacts and shocks, it can handle well almost everything. Wristwatches, especially those built with a strong outdoor purpose. It offers optimum water and temperature resistances and does not become discolored over time. But the stainless steel should be good for that.
The various grades of stainless steel are set according to their composition. Steel and non-steel materials are mixed together since pure steel naturally rusts over time. The add-ons prevent rusting and corrosion, long term or immediate. So steel has several distinct categories, each good for a specific purpose.
- 200 series: Almost no to low nickel content. Finds vast us in have become popular in China and South East Asia. It’s an austenitic alloy steel; Austenite is a solid solution of carbon in iron (ferric carbide) appearing pearlite or martensite. They are non-magnetic and very difficult to distinguish from the 300-series.
- 300 series: Non-magnetic like 200, the types are as follows. This type is our prime concern.
- Type 301: Iron/chromium/nickel.
- Type 302: Higher carbon percentage and increased strength.
- Type 304: The SAE 304 stainless steel is the most common among all stainless steel types, comprising both chromium (18% – 20%) and nickel (8% – 10.5%) as the chief non-iron constituents for this austenitic stainless steel. Less conductive (electrically and thermally) than carbon steel; essentially non-magnetic with a higher corrosion resistance than regular steel. It’s very much malleable and ductile.
- Type 304L: Less carbon, good for welding.
- Type 304LN: Nitrogen added to increase tensile strength.
- Type 316: Second to 304 in popularity, its small molybdenum content resists corrosion.
- Type 316L: Less carbon content than 316; else the same.
- 900 series: Tougher, Harder, brighter; the Type 904L is used for upper-end luxury items. Difficult to make; consists of chromium, molybdenum, nickel, and copper, making it more resistant to acids. It also has a harder surface than any other type and appears brighter and warmer, aging extremely well. However, rashes due to nickel allergy are a possibility because of a higher count of extra metals.
The debate between
The allergenic effect of 904L is absent in the Type 316 and 316L and hence, they make great materials for making wristwatches. Opted by most (even super luxury brands), both withstand extreme temperatures and are highly corrosion resistant. They are found in medical devices as well.
But 904L continues with watch lovers, for there are not too many men who wouldn’t want a Rolex!
The reason 212 steel, on the other hand, is used by German manufacturers like Sinn, who specialize in making shock-absorbent and corrosion-resistant watches. The Type 212 from ThyssenKrupp they use is particularly resistant to seawater – in matters of resistance; fogging and corrosiveness.
The next day, we’ll talk about the most accepted type – Series 300.
Click on the links to see and buy differently-priced watches, all utilizing 316L steel.