What is 316L Stainless Steel & is it actually important?

This is a very interesting question and one I wish I knew the answer to when buying my last watch.

Like a lot of my watch purchases, it’s normally an emotional and spur of the moment decision and it happens when I see a watch that really grabs my attention. That day was no different. I looked at the watch options then checked my bank balance… ‘Shit! A week still to pay day.’ That was enough to make me chose the cheaper of the two options, black anodized aluminium. ‘How bad can it be with a super slick name like anodized aluminium?’

Let me tell you, the extra 25% would have me a much happier man today. Yes, the watch looked great initially, black anodized aluminium really suited it (whatever the hell it actually meant), until one day, I barely touched it off something. I don’t even remember hitting it, but I must have, as the slight scrap pulls my attention at every glance, thus tainting my love for this otherwise great watch. And it’s not the only little mark on it now. There are a couple more and I only have a few brief months.

So, what’s my point!? Well, the more expensive option was 316L Stainless Steel. Not a cool name at all. (I hope that didn’t subconsciously influence me at the time)

But what is 316L Stainless Steel and why does is actually matter?

316L Stainless Steel is a grade of stainless steel that has extra-low carbon content and is extremely resistant to corrosion from seawater or even acidic liquids. It’s also extremely strong when compared to other grades of steel. Unlike the general-use stainless steel grade of 201or 304L, it’s even magnetic resistant. It’s so well regarded that it is widely used in diving equipment due to the materials' high corrosion-resistance.

Great, but what does it have to do with watches?

Well, if you look around today most luxury watch companies use 316L Stainless Steel. And they make you pay out a lot more for it too. Take Apple for example, you have to pay 679 euros before Apple offers you 316L stainless steel in their iWatch. The starting price of an iWatch is 349 and these are made from aluminium. Apple must think highly of this grade of steal and so do we at Toc.

So, there you have it, 316L has a big effect if you want your watch to last. And believe me, you will want the Noir Blanc to stand they test of time.

Written by Will, Toc Watch.