When it comes to the uniqueness of imitation Rolex watches, many friends will immediately think of elements such as oyster cases and Paraflex shock absorbers. Still, as the saying goes, the most conspicuous is also the easiest to be ignored. The 904L steel used is just one of the most prominent features.
For the 904L material used by Rolex, there are two voices. Some believe that 904L has stronger corrosion resistance and better gloss, which is undoubtedly a major innovative breakthrough in watch materials. However, some people questioned that 904L was overhyped and just a marketing gimmick of the brand. Before discussing this issue, we should first understand the types of steel used in standard steel watches on the market and compare the 904L used by Rolex in a horizontal comparison.
304 steel is a material that we often come into contact with daily. It is widely used in various fields. Its most prominent feature is low price and easy processing. Due to cost factors, it is very popular with low-priced fake watches.
Known as one of the 316L “steel kings,” Vacheron Constantin travels worldwide.
But for high-end watches, the cost is not the main factor affecting material selection, so steel with good luster, wear resistance, and excellent corrosion resistance must be used. 316L steel with better corrosion resistance is the ideal choice. Compared with 304 steel, 316L contains fewer carbon elements, and the “L” in its name means “lower carbon content (Lower Carbon).” In addition, the nickel (Ni) and molybdenum (Mo) content in 316L is more. As a kind of Austenite stainless steel, 316L has no attraction to magnets. The most famous watches on the market are made of 316L steel.
So what are the characteristics of the 904L used by Rolex compared to the 316L? The most significant difference between the two steel sheets lies in the chromium and nickel content in the material. The chromium content in 904L is higher, and its surface has stronger corrosion resistance and better metallic luster.
Omega Seamaster PLOPROF 600 (model: 166.077)
According to Rolex’s official website, “Rolex became the first watchmaking brand to use this 904L steel for its case in 1985.” However, after consulting relevant information, it is not difficult to find that the Seamaster Ploprof 600-meter diving watch launched by Omega in 1971 uses a material called “Uranus Steel,” which is 904L.
Ball Speed Warrior (Model: NM9030B-SC-BK)
In addition to Rolex, the Girard-Perregaux series and Ball watches also have models made of 904L stainless steel. With the advancement of technology, more brands will try to use 904L material in the future.
The reason why Rolex chooses 904L steel is not only for the consideration of improving the quality of the watch, but there is another unavoidable reason for its marketing needs. But, marketing is to demonstrate the sense of superiority that “we have what others don’t have, and we have what others have. “We can also get evidence of this from Rolex’s publicity. The term “Oyster steel” appeared in 2018. Before that, Rolex’s official website or promotional materials would only call it 904L steel. This brand-new term was used in 2018 because the GP Laurel Series 81020 Chronograph released in the same year also used 904L steel as a promotional selling point. Different from other brands of 904L.
As far as daily use is concerned, the difference between 316L and 904L could be more apparent. Although 904L has better corrosion resistance, if it is not tested in extreme environments, the corrosion resistance of 316L is good enough to face the erosion of rainwater and seawater in daily life. In addition, since 904L contains more nickel elements, some friends allergic to nickel should be cautious when choosing.
Band Length: 18cm
Series: Oyster Perpetual
Case Thickness: Around 15mm
Band Color: Silver-tone