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Rolex Metals: Stainless Steel, White Gold, and Two-Tone

December 24, 2017

BY Paul Altieri


A gold Rolex watch has become an internationally recognized symbol of success and personal achievement; however Rolex manufactures their watches from a number of different metals, in order to achieve a range of appearances and varying degrees of luxury. While a yellow gold Rolex is a tried and true aesthetic, the following are some of the most popular alternatives that Rolex offers today.

Rolex Metals

Rolex Black Stainless Steel Submariner

Stainless Steel

Although it is the most common and humble material that Rolex uses to manufacture their watches, stainless steel on Submariners is also considered to be the most practical. In addition to being exponentially less expensive than gold, stainless steel is also significantly lighter and stronger, which makes for an overall more robust and durable watch.

From inside their in-house foundry located at their Plan-les-Ouates site, Rolex manufactures their own 904L stainless steel alloy, which is highly corrosion resistant and able to take on an exceptional sheen when polished. Due to its anti-corrosion capabilities, 904L stainless steel is frequently used in high-technology and the chemical and aerospace industries. While highly practical from a functional standpoint, the unique properties of 904L stainless steel allow Rolex watches to maintain their beauty and finish, even in the harshest environments.

Rolex Metals

The Rolex Smurf is a white gold watch, perfect for any occasion.

White Gold

Some individuals desire the ultra-premium feel of a solid gold Rolex; however they do not necessarily want to wear an entirely yellow gold watch as their everyday timepiece. In these instances, 18-karat white gold is an excellent alternative that possesses all the same traits of a traditional yellow gold in a more versatile and understated package.

Much like virtually everything else that Rolex produces, the white gold used for Rolex watches is a proprietary 18-karat alloy that is specifically engineered for optimum durability and takes on an extraordinary luster when polished. Additionally, Rolex reserves certain configurations of watches for white gold references only, such as the all-blue “Smurf” Submariner, and the “Pepsi” version of the ceramic GMT-Master II.

Rolex Metals

Last, but not least, two-tone!


One of the most popular metal configurations for Rolex watches is the combination of stainless steel and gold, known in Rolex nomenclature as Rolesor. These watches have their bezels, winding crowns, and center bracelet links craft from 18-karat gold, while the middle case and outer links of the bracelet are made from 904L stainless steel.

Two-tone (Rolesor) watches follow a similar aesthetic as the classic gold Rolex; however the addition of stainless steel components makes for a slightly more versatile and subdued appearance. Two-tone watches can be more easily matched to accompanying pieces of jewelry or other items within an individual’s wardrobe. Additionally, two-tone Rolex watches are significantly less expensive than their solid gold counterparts, despite containing identical movements and possessing a very similar visual appearance.



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