Unless it comes in a two-piece style, metal bands are called bracelets. Commonly called a “metal strap” instead , the metal bracelet is the choice most buyers would(if the option is available to them) choose when they purchase a watch. A bracelet, especially those with curved-end links for the watch, usually feels like a part of the package by itself. In this article, we guide you through the basics on a metal bracelet.
Metal Bracelet Terminology
In most cases, metal bracelets constitute 3 parts:
A) Bracelet Links
Which are the building blocks of a bracelet. These links comes in different sizes, shapes and arrangements. The way they come together form the different types of bracelets, which we will further expound later in this article.
B) Bracelet Clasp
Which opens up to allow the wearer to fit their hand through, and closes to tighten around the wrist. Here are several ways to engineer a clasp.
Commonly found on Oris and Omega models, this is just about the simplest operation to wear or remove a watch. The two buttons disengages a mechanism to allow the clasp to open and close freely. It’s secure enough but is more often found on less-sporty watches
Double-Locking Push-Button Fold-Over
A more popular clasp option for sport watches and dive watches in particular. The added fold-over latch is for more security although the chance of pressing the push-button by mistake is very low. However, it does provided that added sense of security nonetheless, and after having-owned so many dive watches, I would say it would feel out of place without one.
A not-so common clasp but some notable models with this clasp include the Maurice Lacroix Aikon and the Seiko Cocktail Time series. It also operates in a push-button manner, but the two ends of the links fling outwards as seen above. This clasp is intended so as to hide the clasp when it’s closed. In essence, it provides a seamless aesthetic throughout the bracelet compared to previously mentioned alternatives.
This clasp-style is more commonly found on ladies watches, and even then it’s not so common for more modern watches. When locked, it provides the same seamless appeal of the butterfly clasp, but it’s not operated but a button.
It’s locked with an additional link going through an opening, and closing back onto itself to form a whole bracelet. it’s a classy way but in my opinion, a little tedious to pry open especially if it’s a thinner bracelet. It’s definitely more of an aesthetic choice compared to a practical one.
C) The End-link
Which are pieces of metal usually engineered to fit the watch lugs perfectly. They connect the links of the bracelet to the case itself.
Folded links are thin plates of metal folded into closed links whereas solid links are, as the name suggests solid pieces of steel.
Solid link bracelets like the one on the left are more sturdy and durable, because of it’s build, they are generally more expensive to make.
Types Of Metal Bracelet
As mentioned earlier, the differences between these types are determined by the link size, shape and arrangement. We’ll be comparing some commonly seen adaption of a metal bracelet and how they differ in that sense.
Arguably the most popular bracelet style, the oyster-style is a simple, three flat-link design identical to that of the Rolex Oyster Bracelet.
This original design was patented in 1947, and was introduced just a year after. In the image above, the first oyster bracelet would be the fourth on the left. However, it’s interesting to see the inspiration and cues of the design. The riveted Bonklip bracelets on the left without end-links slowly transitioned into the now-ubiquitous solid metal bracelet.
The Jubilee bracelet was also introduced by Rolex. It was originally intended for the Datejust series for Rolex’s 40th anniversary.
However, just like the Oyster bracelet, it made far-reaching advancements in terms of quality. Nowadays, you can find this type of bracelet not only on the Datejust, but also on the equally iconic SKX series. For this bracelet specifically, the quality is instantly distinguishable.
Vintage or cheaper versions tend to be made up of folded links as well as a hollow end-link. Which means that it’s more prone to stretching and becoming more loose over time. It also rattles noisily when it’s moved around off the wrist. However, it’s worth noting that this meant that the bracelet is lighter and generally feels more comfortable.
Beads Of Rice
Although more often seen on vintage counterparts, the Beads Of Rice bracelet is increasingly popular with modern dive-watches.
This bracelet isn’t a simple one to put onto any watch. It makes just about any watch look older, less-sporty but more ornate. It features an array of rice-like links, hence the name.
The Beads Of Rice bracelet featured above pairs really well with Doxa Sub 200. It’s made up of a center row consisting of 2 and 3 alternating links, with a pair of larger oyster-style links at the sides. Which shows just how the links of each style can be arranged to give a different look.
Mesh( Or ‘Shark Mesh’)
The mesh bracelet is introduced with Omega Seamaster 600 Proplof. And was marketed as being “shark-proof”. While a complete unnecessary claim, it’s an interesting origin for this bracelet.
Despite serving no purpose against sharks, it’s truly a robust choice for your sports watch. Personally, I see it on divers only, reason being, the links resembling a chainmail creates a more bulky look which is unsuitable for dress watches to say the least.
On the other hand, the Milanese band seem to be more fitting for smaller, dressier watches. But it’s more versatile compared to the mesh as it’s also capable of fitting in with sportier pieces, With brands like Brietling adopting it in their dive watch line-up.
Simply put, the Milanese design is that of a very fine mesh, and has a smooth appearance and feel. Between the Mesh and Milanese bracelets, both styles of bracelet are very similar in design. But they give a totally different appeal.
One of the most common misconception for watches is that this watch is named the Rolex ‘President‘
While it is indeed a nickname, the true owner of the name would be the bracelet. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-date, the actual name of this line of watches, was introduced in 1956 with this bracelet.
For the original ‘President’ bracelet, the clasp is a concealed crown-folding clasp, an appropriate name give it’s function. When closed, the clasp would hide behind the seamless façade, similar to that of butterfly clasp, leaving only the Rolex crown logo. It’s distinct design not often seen anywhere else.
The Engineer bracelet is suitable only for thick and hefty watches. By itself, this bracelet comprises of 5 hexagonal links(Hexad) similar in arrangement to that of the Beads Of Rice bracelet which I would say is a more elegant alternative to this bracelet.
Places That Sells Metal Bracelet
If you’re wondering where could be a place where you can get quality aftermarket bracelets aside from the stock ones that come with your watch, you’re in luck. Let’s discuss some places that have them for sale.
A brand synonymous with aftermarket bracelets. Just about every other Seiko SKX owner who I speak to seems to contemplate “upgrading” their watch with one of their bracelets, and I can see why.
Their metal bracelets are manufactured by MilTat, and having owned a few myself, I would say they’re worth it if you love your watch. While they aren’t on the cheap side, it’s understandable given the quality. These bracelet are solid all-around, which meant that production would equally be of a higher price.
Not to mention, Strapcode has one of the largest collection of watch models to choose from. From a Steinhart Ocean 1 to a Bell & Ross BR01, I doubt I’ve seen a larger selection anywhere else.
Another fan-favourite option for bracelet option would be Uncle Seiko, a brand out of California who initially centered around some vintage and modern Seiko models, but included some Omega and Longines models too.
It’s not really common to find a brand who would offer bracelets for vintage models, but I’m glad that Uncle Seiko does it. For the small group of enthusiasts who would choose a metal bracelet over a strap, this is just one option you could explore.
Having a bracelet on a watch is probably the most popular selection right from the time of purchase. Most buyers look for buying with the original bracelet, then adding on their own strap afterwards. I’m one of those buyers, personally, I do love bracelets given how they are sweat-resistant and just about comfortable enough at any time of the day.