When did Rolex Start using 904L Steel

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Rolex is a well-renowned brand that has its shops set up all over the world. It is one of the first companies that started using stainless steel for making watch frames. Earlier, like all other companies, Rolex used 316L stainless steel for its watches. However, in 1985, Rolex reportedly became the first watch brand to use 904L for its watches. 

About 904 L Stainless Steel 

904L stainless steel is a non-stabilized austenitic stainless steel. It has a low carbon content than other versions of stainless steel. SS 904L is mixed with copper to improve its resistance to strong acids such as sulphuric acid. This alloy is also resistant to stress corrosion cracking and crevice corrosion. Grade 904 L is a non-magnetic alloy of iron. However, it offers excellent formability, toughness, and weldability. 

Due to these factors, 904L has a wide range of applications. This is one of the main reasons that Rolex started using this version of stainless steel. This steel has great anti-tarnishing and anti-corrosive properties, which make it best for industrial applications. This grade of stainless steel is well renowned for its resistance to saltwater and acidic liquids due to its carbon ratio. 

Over time Rolex realized that 316L develops tarnish and pitting over time. Thus, this alloy was not very good for use as watches. This was a huge drawback as watches do get in contact with water at times. That is why they needed something better. This vacuum was filled by 904L. 

904L Chemical Composition

904L chemical composition makes it unique and different from other stainless steel alloys. It contains silicon, carbon, manganese, sulfur, and other elements. Here is 904L chemical composition.

Elements % Percentage of the element
Carbon 0.02
Silicon 0.70
Manganese 2.00
Phosphorous 0.03
Sulfur 0.01
Chromium 19.00 – 21.00
Nickel 24.00 – 26.00
Nitrogen 0.15
Molybdenum 4.00 – 5.00
Copper 1.20 – 2.00
Iron Balance

Corrosion Resistive Properties 

SS 904L stainless steel has excellent resistive properties even when it comes in contact with warm seawater and chloride attacks. Due to the high amount of nickel in the composition of SS 904L, it has high resistance to stress corrosion cracking. Also, due to the addition of copper to this grade of stainless steel, it has developed resistance to sulphuric acid and other reducing agents in aggressive and mild conditions. 

However, SS 904L has less level of resistance to nitric acid in comparison to alloys like 304L and 310L. After cold working, this grade of steel needs to be solution treated. This needs to be done in order to achieve maximum stress corrosion cracking resistance under critical environments. 

Heat Resistance Properties of 904L 

SS 904L stainless steel offer great oxidation resistive properties. However, its structural stability collapses at high temperatures. This usually happens particularly above 400 degrees Celsius. Reportedly, thermal treatment is suitable for hardening this grade. 

This alloy of iron can be solution heat-treated at 1090 to 1175°C. This should be followed by rapid cooling, reportedly. 

Welding of Grade 904L stainless steel 

SS 904L can undergo welding by using conventional methods. Reportedly, this grade does not require pre-heat and post-weld heat treatments. This alloy can be subjected to hot cracking in constrained weldment. 

Grade 904L is high-purity steel, and it has low sulfuric content. It can be machined by using standard methods. When it comes to fabrication, this steel can be readily bent to a small radius under cold conditions. However, this grade of steel can be readily bent to a small radius under cold conditions. According to reports, subsequent annealing is not required in most cases. However, it should be carried out when the fabrication is performed under severe stress corrosion cracking conditions. 

At Shalco Industries, we offer the best grade 904L stainless steel. We provide the best prices for this alloy, among others. To learn more about SS 904L stainless steel, visit the Shalco Industries website. We offer the best stainless steel of all grades.

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