Watch straps – Everything you need to know about rubber watch straps

Watch straps – Everything you need to know about rubber watch straps

There was a time where rubber bands for wristwatches were unbearable to wear due to its uncomfortably sticky feel. They weren’t the most stylish of watch accessories. But that was decades ago and things has changed. Over the last 50 years, a revolution in materials and manufacturing means there’s now a huge selection of high quality, high-performance natural and synthetic rubber watch straps. Rubber watch bands are also best for sports watch such as dive watches.

Brief history of rubber watch straps

Research including reviewing watch ads 1960s to 200, reveals that rubber watch straps entered the mainstream in the 1960s. At the time, quality was variable and many straps were criticised for poor durability and comfort. Notably the now-legendary Swiss-made Tropic straps seem to have endured better. Tropic straps were initially issued as cheaper alternative to standard metal bracelets on early Rolex and Tudor dive watches, including French Navy Tudor Submarines. Soon, the Tropic became ubiquitous in 1960s and 1970s France – the watch band of choice in certain circles.

Rubber watch straps gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. Watches such as the Precimax Super- Dove and Aquastar benthos 500 appeared on rubber – usually black rather than the bright blue, orange or yellow rubber watch strap so often seen today.

watch straps

Different types of rubber for watch straps

It is worth summarizing the main types of rubber that you will encounter, sometimes it can be tricky to find the right rubber watch bands for your wristwatch. Here is a quick guide on type of rubber to look out for.

  • Natural rubber – As we have seen many of the early natural rubber straps didn’t perform brilliantly. Nowadays, however, the vulcanised nitrile rubber watch strap is one of the most popular and widely used for high-performance applications. As with any rubber, its performance isn’t determined by its type, be it Nitrile Butadiene Rubber, silicone rubber, polyurethane rubber or PVC rubber.
  • Silicone rubber – This is a rubber-like material that seems to be less widely used for serious high-quality performance watch straps – with notable exceptions such as Sinn, who offer silicone rubber straps on models as diverse as their duo-chronograph and U200 mission timer. While silicone can easily be shaped and coloured, it has a reputation for stickiness, a tendency to tear and propensity to attract dust and lint.
  • PVC rubber – Shinier than polymers like PU rubber, this is thermoplastic vinyl polymer that’s very durable, but lacks the characteristic for high-end applications that make NBR so appealing.
  • PU Rubber – Polyurethene rubber is another polymer with elastic properties – an elastomer- compromising a chain of organic units linked by urethane links. They are very durable, high functional,  but sometimes reported to be less comfortable than natural rubber.

Benefits of rubber watch straps

First, we must restate that within any of the main rubber types, additives, composition, usage, exposure to the elements, personal preference and time are among the factors determining the performance, comfort and durability of straps. Despite criticism of some 1960s rubber straps, genuine Tropic straps appear to have proved relatively durable. Occasionally, they even surface as new-old-stock straps – albeit at a premium reflecting their provenance and scarcity.

The following summarise the characteristics that make a rubber watch straps so appealing:

  • Waterproof/water-resistant
  • Durability
  • Resistance to UVA radiation
  • Availability in a wide range of colour and textures
  • Non-allergenic and non-toxic
  • It’s easy to clean
  • Electrical non-conductivity
  • Generally uni-sex
  • Secure fitting and wide adjustability
  • Low-cost and inexpensive replaceable
  • Lightweight
  • Stylish
  • Scratch-resistant

Watch Straps – choose the suitable strap for your watch

Most individuals prefer rubber watch straps because it’s convenient and comfy to wear. It’s recommendable to people who sweat a lot and wearable in hot seasons. So, better check on these lists of watch straps and enjoy wearing it!