Stainless Steel as a Watch Material

What Is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is an iron-carbon alloy, mixed with chromium, nickel, molybdenum and traces of other metals. It is extremely strong and durable and highly resistant to rust, corrosion and stains. Steel is also the most scratch resistant among the basic metals, especially when hardened. Stainless steel has an attractive silver-tone metal. It is available in many different finishes. It can be highly polished to look like a precious metal although this finish easily show fingerprints and smudges. Brushed stainless steel has a soft, milky quality that resists smudges and is easy to maintain and keep clean. It is often coated via PVD (physical vapor deposition) methods such as IP (ion plating) to achieve attractive finishes:

– Gold Plated Stainless Steel- Stainless steel with a coating of gold- yellow gold or the fashionable rose gold tone for the beautiful and luxurious look of gold.

– Two Tone Steel Gold Plating- Beautiful, versatile and cost friendly gold and silver two tone watches.

– PVD Titanium Plated Steel- An interesting plating of the sturdy stainless steel with the dark grey tone of titanium.

– Platinum Plated Stainless Steel- A luxurious, elegant and strong silver tone plating for beauty and quality.

– Black Ion Plating on Steel- A sleek black coating to change the look of steel and create sophisticated black metal watches.

– Stainless Steel and Plastic Resin- This combination results into quality, beauty and versatility.

Types of Stainless Steels

There are different grades and quality levels of stainless steel. Manufacturers produce more than 150 types of stainless steel alloys. 316L is the most common steel alloy and is also referred to as surgical steel. It is the most widely used in watches and jewellery making. It contains little carbon, relatively high chromium levels, and a small amount of nickel. 316LVM is a 316L variation produced in a vacuum for a smoother surface. 317L is similar to 316L but has a slightly higher nickel content. 302L and 304L stainless steel alloys have a relatively higher nickel content.

Most high-end brands use high grade steel and some have their own alloys. For example, Rolex uses a medical grade super alloy known as 904L. AudemarsPiguet, Chopard and Calvin Klein watches also have outstanding steel watches.

Properties of Stainless Steel Watches

Resistance to Corrosion: Iron, the primary component in all steel alloys, rusts easily but stainless steel is highly resistant to rust or corrosion, due to the chromium. This forms an oxide film on the surface that prevents rusting, thus keeping the metal shiny!

Low Reactivity: The oxide film mentioned above not only keeps the metal from rusting, but also reacting with a whole host of other chemicals, which in turn stop it from staining and discolouring. This’s why stainless steel is an excellent watch material for divers, swimmers, and other aquatic athletes.

Excellent Durability: Stainless steel is strong and highly durable, easily enough for several years of hard use. It features a highly lustrous and durable finish not prone to nicks, scrapes or warping.

Nickel Safety: Nickel is a constituent in all grades of stainless steel, but the amount included and the process by which the metal is made have different results. For example, very small amounts are used in conjunction with tight bonds for applications where it must not leach out, such as surgical implants. This is the well known ‘surgical steel’ grade. However, the nickel salts in some other stainless-steel alloys may leak out over time and trigger allergic reactions, and are thus not used for internal use, or for watch parts where they are in contact with the skin for long periods.

Steel vs. Titanium Ladies Watches

Steel is the most widely used metal in watch making. Steel watches last long and it is easy to fix signs of wear and tear.  Titanium has a dark grey colour. It is extremely hard and also lightweight. It is hypoallergenic, extremely durable and resistant to dents and corrosion. Stainless steel or titanium watches? It depends on the purpose of the watch and your budget. For normal everyday watches, stainless steel is ideal. For budget, titanium is more expensive than steel and is typically used in high end watches. However, titanium is the ideal choice for sports, swimming and diving watches. It is lightweight and therefore comfortable. It is also resistant to dents and corrosion. Titanium is also the go to if you have sensitive skin.