The difference between 904L and 316L

First off, what exactly is 904L steel?

904L steel is marketed by Rolex as a "corrosion-resistant superalloy". It is harder, and reacts less to acids. Addition of Chromium, Molybdenum, Nickel, and Copper to the steel gives it these properties, and also a slightly different color from 316L steel. Rolex is the only known watchmaker to use and proudly market this.

Why then, have Rolex replicas stuck with 316L steel for the longest time?

The reason is simple, the difference is not worth the cost.

904L steel, besides being higher in cost, is also much harder to machine and finish. This means specialized equipment which adds greatly to the cost of producing these watches. The result, though, is surprisingly not very big visually. Even when placed side-by-side, 904L just a has very slightly bluer hue, of which is extremely hard to see unless in perfect lighting conditions. For all that is said, we can say that there is barely a difference in feel and looks between the two steel materials, if at all.

The only worthy difference we feel is 904L's corrosion-resistance, and even that is pretty useless, because nobody will actually subject their replica Rolex to long periods of saltwater exposure. Even most other companies do not use 904L steel in their watches, and this pretty much sums up what an unnecessary luxury it is.

So are 904L steel Rolex replicas a lie?

Until very recently, yes. Last year, the best makers in the replica industry have released a few Rolex models in 904L steel. These watches cost about $100 more than their 316L counterparts, and yes, people have tested the steel and it really is 904L. So why did they do it? The answer is pretty simple. Top-end replicas are virtually indistinguishable from original watches now, and replica makers are running out of things to improve. This move puts the factory just a little ahead of their competitors when it comes to the crazy, replica-obsessed crowd.

Should I get a 904L steel Rolex replica then?

We would say if it is entirely up to you. For most people who buy and enjoy replicas, we would say no. Save the money, and buy more replicas or yourself a nice dinner. But there will always be the crazy, obsessed people out there. The kind who will take a magnifying glass to their rep and try to spot every tiny difference from the originals. If you are that kind of person, then yes, maybe you might want to go for the 904L steel Rolex replicas. You will not be disappointed.

Still got questions? Click on the 'Talk to us' button at the bottom or email us at and let's chat!