Summer probably seems like a long way away for many Americans right now, with much of the country grappling with one of the worst winter storms in recent memory.
But time flies. Most of us still feel like we’re stuck in 2020… But actually, March is almost upon us, meaning there are only three-and-a-bit months until summer. When you put it like that, it seems like summer’s just around the corner. And summer usually means one thing in the watch world: rubber strap time.
Previously the domain of only the cheapest watches, rubber straps have steadily become more acceptable on high-end timepieces, especially on Rolexes. It’s not hard to see why: Rolexes are sporty watches and the practicality of a rubber strap suits their functional nature and capability. Indeed, the first glimpses of warmer weather are a siren call to many Rolex owners to get their tools out and swap their leather or metal for rubber ahead of beach season.
The flexibility (both aesthetically and literally) of a rubber strap on Rolex models like the Explorer or the Submariner is unparalleled: not only is it the perfect way to show off a bit of individuality but is inarguably the most practical strap option, especially in summer. Leather will get manky and metal can be too heavy if you want to swim with your watch, you see.
But while watch fans in countries like Australia, France or Italy have long embraced the rubber strap – even beyond summer – the rubber strap trend has been slower to take off in the United States, even for Rolexes. It’s a shame because it’s remarkably easy to change a Rolex’s strap and it makes such a big difference to the aesthetics and wearability of a watch.
Not convinced? Just watch this short video made by Norwegian watch fan @gulenissen that, in his own words, shows you “how to make the good ol’ Sub a tad less sterile.”
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The reality is that rubber straps are good all year round, not just in summer. While leather straps and metal bracelets are undoubtedly a more classic and formal option on a watch, even the most buttery-soft leather or elegant bracelet will struggle to match the sheer comfort and versatility of a quality rubber strap, regardless of whether you’re using your Rolex tool watch for its originally intended, action-packed purpose, or if you’re just toting it as a daily wearer.
Another reason why Americans should consider blessing their Rolex with a rubber strap is that it’s likely to increase their value as an investment. Earlier this year, Bob’s Watches COO Carol Altieri shared some exclusive Rolex market insights with DMARGE, which reveal that Rolexes on rubber straps regularly command premiums of even thousands of dollars above identical models on leather or metal. When you consider that rubber straps are almost always cheaper than metal or leather options, it’s a no brainer.
While Rolex has been slow to offer rubber straps as a factory option – with currently only the Daytona and Yacht-Master available with a factory ‘Oysterflex’ strap – there’s plenty of high-quality options on the aftermarket from brands like Everest Bands, Horus Watch Straps or Rubber B.
Just don’t get carried away with your rubber Rolex renovations. You don’t want to fall into the trap of making your watch look too garish (or fake), like this GMT-Master II owner inadvertently did…