Some folks love ‘em, some folks hate ‘em.
They’re light. They’re tinny. They feel flimsy. They stretch (even the ones that are supposed to stretch, stretch too much). And worst of all, they do not inspire confidence if you’re going adventuring. Not at all.
And yet, while some folks really don’t like them, it’s hard to find one that isn’t attached to a watch, in any sort of decent condition. Go ahead. Search eBay. I’ll wait. Say what you will, the venerable riveted Oyster bracelet that first graced the lugs of a Rolex Oyster watch in 1947 is a part of Rolex lore. Not to mention, it did its job admirably.
Frankly, for its time, it was a beautiful thing. It tapered sweetly from 20mm where it nestled between the lugs, to 15mm where it attached to the folding deployant clasp.
Compared to anything that was current at the time, including the straps it replaced, the early riveted stainless steel Oyster looked positively robust. Its stainless steel construction was a worthy match for the stainless steel case to which it was attached.
(Image credit: Rolex Forums member hks3sgte)
The Oyster was available with either fixed or expanding links, and lest you think less of the expanding link version (shades of Speidel Twist-o-Flex), those expanding links made the bracelet extremely comfortable.
As new watches were introduced, the riveted Oyster appeared on many of them, chronographs and sport watches alike. The Submariner rode the rivets for nearly 20 years, and the Daytona went for roughly ten. It seemed that a sport or professional Rolex watch wasn’t worthy of the category without a riveted Oyster. The GMT-Master was the only exception.
Finally, in the early 1970s, the riveted Oyster was replaced with the folded link Oyster. It was just another step in the evolution of the Oyster, but it was the end of an era.
Stay tuned. We’ll keep following the Oyster through history and up to the present day.