Chrome plated versus full stainless steel watches: When we ask the collector, the preference is often given to full steel watches. But why? To understand that, we go back in time and look at the history of vintage watches and take a closer look at different models.
Stainless- or rustles steel was invented in 1913 by Harry Brearley of Sheffield. Harry Brearley discovered the result of this alloy while looking for anti-corrosion and anti-corrosion solutions for the British military. While Brearley had thrown away his previously attempts with added chrome ingredients, he only found out later that these pieces had not rusted.
This made it clear that by adding 12.8% chromium to the ingredients, the first stainless steel variant was created. The first stainless steel was used for British Army aircraft parts, cutlery and gun barrels
From this moment on, this relatively strong and “stainless” steel variant was used, mostly in industry and the military. Over the years, the stainless steel went through a lot of innovation; alloys and compositions continued to change, ultimately leading to increasingly stronger steel that was more resistant to rust and corrosion.
The production of the stainless steel was relatively expensive at the time and was therefore not used massively. Many alternatives such as chromed steel and nickel types were cheaper and easier to produce and therefore more commonly used at the time. Objects such as door handles, toys and other everyday objects were often chrome plated.
The objects that had to withstand harsh conditions or had certain high-quality standards were made of stainless steel. However, the production was very expensive and complex, making these items less common, rarer and expensive. As the 1960s approached, production processes were simplified and making stainless steel became cheaper and easier
Comparisons and quality.
Here we have a chromed steel watch case. (Excluding the case back) The majority of the vintage watches with chrome-plated cases have developed some corrosion or the chrome-plated has partly worn off. One watch is worse than the other, but it can often be seen or felt from the structure and finish of a watch case.
This watch case is made of solid stainless steel, or as often indicated on the case: rustles steel, acier stainless steel or stainless steel. The quality of finish and the case itself is immediately distinguishable. This is partly due to the difference in production and is also reflected in the prices.