With the summer months coming on many watch wearers consider switching the strap on their Rolex. Although the original Rolex Oyster bracelet is plenty reliable, it can sometimes be unforgiving especially in the summer months when moving from air conditioned surroundings to the outside environment. Frequent temperature changes causes wrists to swell and contract making the Oyster bracelet too tight, or too loose.  Newer Rolex Oyster bracelets have a built in easy-link inside the clasp for a quick bracelet extension, but some Oyster bracelets do not have easy-link as do older Rolex bracelets.


Changing the strap on your Rolex can give your watch a completely different look. The original Oyster bracelet was designed to match the watch case, with stainless bracelets matching stainless watch cases, gold bracelets for gold watch cases and so forth.  Replacement straps give you the opportunity to have the strap compliment the watch face, bezel, or in some cases the chronometer register hands or the fourth 24 hour hand giving the watch an entirely new look.


Three types of straps

NATO nylon straps are designed to fit through the springbars on each side of the watchcase and loop on the underside of the caseback. NATO nylon straps were made for Rolex Milsubs that had solid springbars. The only way for a strap to fit a Milsub was with a continuous nylon or leather strap.  NATO’s greatest advantages are that they are inexpensive, easy to change, are available in a variety of colors, easily expand when it is warm out, impervious to water, and will still hold the watch on your wrist in the event a springbar breaks.  Some Rolex wearers change their NATO strap as often as their shoes, wearing a complimenting strap with the clothes they are wearing for the day.


Leather is by far one of the most comfortable watchstrap materials available and the reason why they are used on numerous prestigious Swiss watches. Leather straps are available in a variety of colors and will mold to the wearer’s wrist increasing comfort every time it’s worn. Like with anything  made of leather, leather watch straps come in a variety of quality levels and finishes. A personal favorite is a continuous cordovan leather strap that fits like a NATO strap, but possesses leather’s form fitting ability.  The only drawback with leather strap is its’ fallibility to water, especially sea-water. All Rolex watches are rated to a minimum of 100 meters of water resistance, but unfortunately a leather strap is not.  Despite leather’s weakness in water, leather is one of the most popular watchstrap materials in the industry.


Vulcanized Rubber: Although there are many rubber strap replacements available for watches, the two I like are designed specifically as a Rolex replacement strap. Manufactured by Rubber B and Everest, these straps differ from the numerous silicon rubber straps found in places like from Kmart and eBay because they are designed for specific Rolex watches. Rubber B and Everest straps also differ in that they are vulcanized for strength, elasticity, and utilize the existing Rolex bracelet clasp. These straps are very strong, expand and contract easily during temperature changes, waterproof, and come in a variety of colors.  Both Rubber B and Everest straps protect the springbar with a solid end link, utilizing the same reliable concept as the original Oyster bracelet.  Springbars that hold the bracelet to the case are a vulnerable component that if bent, can detach the bracelet from the case.  With both Rubber B and Everest straps, the springbar is completely protected and supported by the solid end link.  Both these straps are very comfortable and reliable under water.


Just like changing the wardrobe for summer, consider changing the strap as well. Feel free to contact Fourtané if you need assistance finding and changing your strap. Changing your strap for summer is a great way to think that you have new watch.

– Sheldon Smith