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There is no doubt that 904L is superior to 316L on many fronts. Of course, Rolex officially uses "Oystersteel" which is based on 904L. Rolex could make other adjustments in the processing such as case hardening or other heat treatments, and of course, adjust the alloy elements. Interestingly it is the addition of copper to the alloy that improves its pitting resistance and perhaps helps with the luster. The other point is that iron is less than 50% of the alloy by weight. There is more detail in the piece I wrote below.
Steve

I've often wondered why they don't use 15-5-PH, or 17-4-PH Stainless Steels, other than they are much more difficult to machine.....which would increase costs even more.
 

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Love my explorer I and the quality of the 904L steel. Just picked up BB 58. Love love love. I know it’s not a Rolex but craftsmanship is there as we all know the relationship with Rolex. Anyone know what caliber steel Tudor uses? Excuse my ignorance in advance. Thanks.


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SNGLRTY
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I've often wondered why they don't use 15-5-PH, or 17-4-PH Stainless Steels, other than they are much more difficult to machine.....which would increase costs even more.
These are martensitic stainless steels, or precipitation hardened steels, which as the name suggests are hard and as you suggest would make the shaping and forming of the watch case particularly challenging. The other aspect to understand is that martensitic stainless steels can become magnetized, austenitic stainless steels cannot. This is because these two steels have different crystal structures. Austenitic stainless steels are a face-centered cubic structure and in this atomic configuration iron atoms cannot be magnetized, however, martensitic steels are body-centered cubic structures and in this configuration, iron can be magnetized. As we know magnetic forces and watch movements are not a good combination hence the austenitic steels.

I hope this helps.
Steve
 

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Oystersteel is not 'based' on 904L - it is 904L.
Hi Bluco,

I think we may be splitting hairs here. Rolex says, "Oystersteel belongs to the 904L steel family," I will choose my words more carefully in the future.

Thanks
Steve
 

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These are martensitic stainless steels, or precipitation hardened steels, which as the name suggests are hard and as you suggest would make the shaping and forming of the watch case particularly challenging. The other aspect to understand is that martensitic stainless steels can become magnetized, austenitic stainless steels cannot. This is because these two steels have different crystal structures. Austenitic stainless steels are a face-centered cubic structure and in this atomic configuration iron atoms cannot be magnetized, however, martensitic steels are body-centered cubic structures and in this configuration, iron can be magnetized. As we know magnetic forces and watch movements are not a good combination hence the austenitic steels.

I hope this helps.
Steve
Yes, I hadn't thought about (obvious) magnetism.....
I began machining (metals) "almost" 50 years ago, so my perspective is simply machinability ratings and proper machine and tool components.
I have broad, but shallow knowledge of design motives and why certain metals are used over others and how raw material is presented; ie forging, casting, solid, printed, etc.
I spend all of my days in aircraft engine high temp allows, so I would LOVE to hear your opinion of 3d printing and how grain structure compares to a proper forging.
It seems folks are running towards it, but for any volume it is NOT cost effective (other than prototype) , and will not be convinced otherwise until cycle times are in minutes, not days.
Thanks!

PS: I understand restaurants are open this week in Bern; Zimmermania and Harmonie being my favorites
 

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SNGLRTY
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Yes, I hadn't thought about (obvious) magnetism.....
I began machining (metals) "almost" 50 years ago, so my perspective is simply machinability ratings and proper machine and tool components.
I have broad, but shallow knowledge of design motives and why certain metals are used over others and how raw material is presented; ie forging, casting, solid, printed, etc.
I spend all of my days in aircraft engine high temp allows, so I would LOVE to hear your opinion of 3d printing and how grain structure compares to a proper forging.
It seems folks are running towards it, but for any volume it is NOT cost effective (other than prototype) , and will not be convinced otherwise until cycle times are in minutes, not days.
Thanks!

PS: I understand restaurants are open this week in Bern; Zimmermania and Harmonie being my favorites
That is really interesting as I think I come from the opposite end of the spectrum - too much time looking at books and little practical experience! I am always intrigued how much the practicalities of manufacture ultimately dictate the choice of materials, that is a whole other ball of wax though.

Yes, Daniel is very happy the restaurants are opening up again. I am going to make sure Daniel has those on the agenda next time I visit - which I hope will not be too long!

Steve
 

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I deal with 316l and 304 SS at work. The 316 always never get any rust. If it does it’s Superficial and a quick pass with a scuff pad removes it. With that said I have never seen any signs of rust on any of my watches. I believe that Rolex’s marketing is just that, marketing. And I have learned something new in this thread. And that’s that it’s only the case that’s 904, if I am correct. To me that’s like false advertising since I always thought that the whole watch, including the bracelet was 904. The bracelet it what get most of the punishment followed by the bottom of the watch in terms of body sweat. Any watch I have owned, including Rolex, has been just that, a watch. I wear it everywhere and goes in the ocean, pool, grease, etc. Never had any issues with rust or staining.
 
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