Even in 2020, five years after Rolex debuted the Oysterflex™ bracelet on the 40mm and 37mm Yacht-Master, the Oysterflex™ strap and clasp is still divisive among watch fans. Prior to 2015, collectors couldn’t imagine Swiss-made brands like Rolex, Tudor, and Omega placing a rubber strap next to a white gold watch face. But with the advent of smartwatches in 2012, customer preferences started to move away from precious metals and towards a younger, more athletic look. Once silicone and rubber straps became ubiquitous, Rolex and other fine watchmakers introduced their contribution to a new generation of watch style. Style and customer preferences are always evolving, and the introduction of the Rolex Oysterflex™ bracelet was a compelling addition to the luxury watch world.
A New Era For Rolex Bracelets
Starting with the 40mm and 37mm Yacht-Master, Rolex introduced the Oysterflex™ bracelet, a high-density elastomer band encasing a flexible titanium-nickel alloy core. When it debuted, Rolex was insistent that the new band was a bracelet, with an innovative design built around the history of strength and flexibility found in Rolex’s prior metal bracelets. It also featured a tiered design that lifted the watch up and away from the wrist, providing exceptional airflow and comfort, two common issues with other sport bands. The layered design showcased raised longitudinal lines that elegantly flanked the watch case and tapered slightly to connect with a solidly built Oysterlock deployant.
The New Yacht-Master Sails Into The Harbor at Baselworld 2015
Most surprisingly of all, Rolex paired the new bracelet with the oft-ignored Yacht-Master, but the new design was clearly a match made in heaven. The matte finish of the Oysterflex set off the redesigned Yacht-Master perfectly. Paired with a case made of Everose™ gold, the warm-hued metal provided a pleasing high contrast to the new matte black bracelet. Always attentive to details, Rolex redesigned the Cerachrome bezel on the Yacht-Master to feature glossy black markers in relief on a matte black bezel, to better match the finish of the Oysterflex bracelet. The previously ignored Yacht-Master was given a whole new look, and the result was striking. The response to this sleek, sexy debut at Baselworld 2015 was thunderous. Rolex had changed the game for luxury watches yet again, and collectors showed their appreciation by quickly depleting AD stock.
An Everest Band (shown above) is an aftermarket watch strap that fits seamlessly to the case, and keeps the classic essence of a Rolex.
Expanding The Lineup of Oysterflex™ Offerings
Even now, there are still Rolex traditionalists who shudder at the thought of anodized rubber coming into contact with the links of a precious metal Rolex case. Lately, however, hardliners seem to be giving in to the Oysterflex’s good looks and stylish flexibility. In the years following 2015, Rolex added an Oysterflex band to several models of the Daytona, including the white gold Daytona ref. 116515LN, the Everose™ gold Daytona ref. 116515LN, and the yellow gold Daytona ref 116518LN. Rolex doesn’t currently offer the Oysterflex on any steelcase models, but that could change in the future. In the meantime, Everest bands allow collectors to create an adaptable and agile look on everything from a Milgauss to a GMT.
Written by: Meghan Clark