304 vs. 316L – Which Stainless Steel Type Is Best for Watch Bands?

If there’s one thing that all watch enthusiasts will agree on, it’s that material matters. The quality of a timepiece is typically dictated by the materials used and the artisanship of the watchmaker. In this article, we’re going to focus specifically on the most commonly used material for watches and watch bands: stainless steel. 

Stainless steel watch bands are considered a classic and are universally loved by aficionados and casual watch wearers alike. But not all stainless steel watch bracelets are created equal. Read on as we break down the difference between the 304 and the 316L––the two most common types of stainless steel used for watch bands:

Stainless Steel Grade 304 

This may be the type of stainless steel alloy that is most commonly used. Its name is derived from its mark S30400 in UNS. Some refer to it as 18/8 due to the fact that it often contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel. 

You might not be aware of it, but this type of stainless steel is what you commonly see and use around the house, especially in the kitchen, as most cookware pieces are made of Type 304. 

This stainless steel type is used for a lot of products because they can easily be shaped. And because Type 304 is easily accessible, it’s relatively cheap as well. While that’s good for most products, you can’t say the same for watches. Timepieces that use this type of stainless steel are often low-end and aren’t as high-quality or as durable as those made with Type 316L. Type 304 is also sensitive to acid and is prone to corrosion, so if you sweat a lot, you might want to stay away from watches with this type of band. 

Stainless Steel Grade 316L

Type 316 may be second only to 304 when it comes to how common it is used, but that does not mean it is in any way inferior. On the contrary, this grade of stainless steel is more durable and resistant to corrosion because apart from the elements used for a 304, it also has molybdenum. 

This type of stainless steel is often used to make surgical instruments, and it’s also common for marine use, which is why it’s often called surgical steel and marine-grade stainless steel. For the latter, the sub-type 316L is preferred. The only difference between the typical 316 and the 316L is that there’s less carbon content in the 316L. 

Type 316L is also more commonly used for products that need welding because it’s significantly more stable even in high-temperature or highly corrosive conditions. Additionally, it is resistant to magnetism, a characteristic that you won’t find in other lower-grade stainless steel types. In fact, this is the material of choice for high-end watches, and you can consider getting Seikomods’ Oyster 316L Solid Stainless Steel Bracelet!


While both the 304 and the 316L are commonly used for timepieces, if you want a more premium material that is suitable for watch bands and Seiko mod parts like bezels and chapter rings, 316L is definitely the better choice. Remember that you are investing a lot of your hard-earned money in your luxury timepiece, and you don’t want to compromise the quality of your collection with mod parts that are of inferior quality. So, before you buy watch mod parts and bands, make sure that you check the type of stainless steel used!

Here at SeikoMods, we believe that only the highest quality Seiko parts should be provided to our valued customers. If you want to keep the integrity of your watch while still being able to customize it to your liking, or if you want to preserve the life of an old timepiece in your collection, then check out our collection of watch bands and other parts today

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