Understanding Alloy or Stainless Steel Watch Cases

It may be true that most steels are alloy, which means that they are mixed up with other metals. So, what does watches which are built in alloy means? Most watches even though you may see stainless steel written on it are infact made up of alloy; a mixture of iron, carbon and chromium. However, it is important for you to understand that not all stainless steel are of the same grade.

Stainless Steel Watch Cases

Compared to other ordinary steels, stainless steel watch cases does not corrode, stain or rust with water. And as a matter of fact watch manufacturers have been using stainless steel to make watch bracelets too. Stainless steel watches which are not expensive are in fact made of 201 or 304L stainless steel and these type of stainless steel are less resistant to corrosion.

Most high quality watches are made of 316L grade stainless steel, it has another substance added to it which is called molybdenum which render it more resistant to corrosion and magnet. It also contain less carbon in the mixture.

Other higher quality watches such as Rolex watches are made of 904L stainless steel, which is the most expensive stainless steel. Compared to the 316L stainless steel, it contain more chromium and molybderum and has nickel and copper added to it. Overall, it gives the wach case more resistance to corrosion and acids, and it is all way non-magnetic.

rolex deap see

904L Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Dial 116660 

The Process In Making Watch Cases

There are two main ways of making watch cases namely Metal Injection Molding and Metal Stamping and Machining.

Metal Injection Molding is simply the process of heating metal powders which is then injected into a mold. So alloy or stainless steel watch cases are infact made of different metal powder.

Metal Stamping and Machining on the contrary is the process of stamping existing metal as is.

stainless steel watch cases

Image: breitling.com

Breitling cases are made by a stamping (swaging) process that is performed cold for steel and gold and hot for titanium. The case-middle blanks are first cut out from a metal bar. A series of swaging operations at increasingly high pressure serves to give the case its final shape. Before each new stamping, the case-middle is heated to around 1100° C in order to let down and restabilize the metal. Each case middle of the Chronomat is subjected to a total pressure of 875 tons during the 15 stamping phases.

Then comes the machining – involving turning the round parts, milling-cutting the complex geometrical shapes, drilling holes for the crowns and pushpieces – smoothly associating the hand and machinery including five-axis high-speed “machining centers”. After the added parts are welded to the cases, the latter are treated to a set of subtle and contrasting finishes – polishing, satin-brushing or beadblasting – in a lengthy process combining mechanized work and the polisher’s dexterity. All the parts added to the cases (bezels, backs, crowns and pushpieces) are manufactured and finished with the same concern for technical and aesthetic perfection. – breitling.com






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