Over the last fifty or so years, Rolex has been coming out with new wrist delights that have been making all of us salivate for a new timepiece from the famed Swiss watchmaker. Consistently, they have made the oyster case and oyster bracelet the centerpiece of almost every watch that has been released in their sports collection. Rolex has ignored trends and slowly evolved each of the six to seven models in the sports collection, making them the true-lasting, popular look. Rubber straps, and really even leather straps, have consistently been ignored by Rolex’s design team as a way to keep a watch on your wrist, up until Baselworld 2015. This was my inaugural trip to BaselWorld, the famed Swiss watch trade show. I had no idea that Rolex would be releasing a rubber strap (they are referring to it as an elastomer bracelet) on a watch this year. As you know, Everest Horology Products loves Rolex watches with rubber watch straps on them, especially our rubber lines. For years, we have been creating new rubber watch band options for Rolex owners and recently have released a whole new line that uses a standard buckle connection. It was so exciting to see all of the press, watch collectors, watch dealers and other manufacturers clamoring around the Rolex booth to see this new fangled watch band design that Rolex had finally embraced.
Since Rolex does not offer accessories, just watches – they choose the Yacht-master line to offer a rubber-like watch strap design first. I immediately noticed that the strap has a velvet look to it, almost a matte finish. They have integrated this rather cool looking rubber matte finish onto the bezel and face of the watch also. Rolex choose to take this watch strap design down a different manufacturing path than other watch manufacturers have done in the past. They choose to create an inner frame made of titanium that they covered in some sort of elastomer – we suspect that it is a plastic material and not traditional rubber. The truly interesting thing about this design is the flexible fin like flaps that are on the underside of the strap that Rolex went ahead and decided to patent. These flaps seem to keep the watch and strap slightly ascended off of the wrist. We believe this is to increase airflow and allow for perspiration to evaporate.
I cannot deny that this is a unique design that is bold, but I can see a few basic design flaws. For example, the strap uses a traditional spring bar/watch strap connection. This is a very common connection, and I would have thought they might have come up with a more unique curved design like the Everest rubber and leather lines. They have created a unique iconic curve to their cases for almost 70 years and with this newly innovated strap they ignored it completely. At the Baselworld Rolex display, I noticed immediately the strap collected dust. Our straps and really any high-end rubber strap will not. These two issues make me think that Rolex might have jumped the gun a little and may have wanted to do a little more testing before they released this new bracelet for the Yacht-Master.
In conclusion, we are absolutely ecstatic to see a Rolex watch with a rubber strap on it. This was a modern design that will definitely bring those from the watch world to realize that it is completely okay to enjoy your Rolex with a rubber bracelet. Obviously, we were also enamored that Rolex took a page from the Everest Horology Products playbook and used the exact same clasp/link connection. We do not mind it one bit to be copied by our absolute favorite watch company. We congratulate Rolex for taking a risk on a rubber and can’t wait to see what next Baselworld brings from Rolex’s design department – maybe a leather watch strap for their sports collection? I guess we will all have to wait and see. *special thanks to Tide+Time (www.tideandtimewatches.com) for their gorgeous images