Continuing our series on maintaining your Rolex is examining and caring for the bracelet that is part of your Rolex watch. Granted, most of your Rolex’s functionality comes from the watch itself, but the bracelet also holds a critical function of keeping the watch reliably on your wrist. Just as how the watch crystal, bezel, and other part of the watch are out in the elements, the bracelet and clasp are as well. Subsequently, when cleaning the watch, we have to examine the bracelet as well.
The Rolex Oyster bracelet is one the trademark qualities found on all its watches. The Rolex Oyster links and the updated Oyster clasps are engineering marvels. Current stainless Rolex Oyster bracelets are made of 904L steel, like the watch case, and are very durable being resistant to salt water, chlorine, and other elements that can, over time, deteriorate stainless steel. Prior to the modern Rolex Oyster bracelet, the older hollow-link bracelets had been criticized for not having the same robustness as the watch itself. It seemed that Rolex had been placing their engineering focus on the watch movement and case, but not the bracelet. Since 2000, it’s obvious that Rolex utilized Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines on bracelet design and manufacture. Since 2000 or so, any new Rolex model included solid-linked bracelets, and redesigned clasps.
The redesigned Rolex Oyster bracelet is assembled with solid links and pivot pins that are press fit together. The only way these links come apart is by the same machines that assembled them. The Oyster bracelet fits to the watch with a double-shouldered spring bars connecting the solid end link to the watch. The Oyster clasp is a spring loaded locking mechanism utilizing milled (not stamped) parts.
Despite the added durability and robustness found in redesigned Oyster bracelets, there is still some daily/weekly maintenance tasks to insure that the bracelet lasts as long as the watch. The first maintenance task is to clean the bracelet for reasons that are more than aesthetic. A Rolex Oyster bracelet contains between 12 and 16 pivot points, and double that amount on a Rolex Jubilee bracelet. In order to prevent what is known as “bracelet stretch,” the bracelet should be cleaned weekly with simple soap and water, and/or wiped down with Veraet watch spray. Although a Rolex bracelet does not really stretch, a poorly maintained bracelet appears longer and the links not as tight because the pins inside the Oyster link wear because of friction mixed with dirt. The Oyster bracelet is a dirt magnet because of the oil picked up from the wearer’s skin. Oil attracts dirt and once adhered to a pin, acts as light sand paper wearing down both the link and the pin. Bracelet does not happen overnight, but takes years of use that some weekly maintenance will prevent.
Another preventive trick for bracelet stretch is to wear the watch as tight as what comfort allows. A loosely fitted bracelet wears more because of the movement of metal across the bracelet pins.
While cleaning the bracelet, be sure to check the bracelet screws. Occasionally, the screws holding the adjustable / removable links might work loose if they have not been checked for some time. Use a 1.8mm (only) screwdriver and if they are loose.
If all this sounds like too much, bring your watch by Fourtané and we can do this for you.