Along with the case silhouette and dial layout, a major component of a watch’s design is its bracelet. In fact, some watchmakers have manufactured bracelets that are so iconic, that they are recognized and appreciated by watch enthusiasts everywhere. From the Rolex President to the Breitling Pilot, here are some of the most important watch bracelets to know.
Rolex Watch Bracelets
If there’s one watchmaker that has emphasized the importance of bracelet designs, it’s Rolex. While the brand has several distinct bracelet designs, the three most important ones to know are the Jubilee, Oyster, and President.
Rolex Jubilee Bracelet
The oldest Rolex bracelet design still in production today, the Jubilee bracelet made its debut in 1945 on the then-new Datejust watch. The Rolex Jubilee bracelet is composed of semi-circular links in a five-piece arrangement. Recognized as a dressier Rolex bracelet, the Jubilee bracelet is typically paired with Datejust watches and GMT-Master watches.
Rolex has made the Jubilee bracelet in a bevy of materials and today it’s often found in stainless steel or two-tone gold and steel. The two-tone versions can combine either yellow gold or Everose gold with stainless steel, where the three links at the center are fashioned in gold, flanked by steel outer links.
Rolex Oyster Bracelet
Patented in 1947 and currently the most ubiquitous bracelet design found in the Rolex watch catalog, the Oyster bracelet is characterized by a three-piece configuration of flat links. As the Oyster bracelet is positioned as the brand’s sportiest watch bracelet, it’s the go-to for almost all of Rolex’s sports watches including the Daytona, Submariner, Yacht-Master, Sea-Dweller, Explorer, and others. However, it is also available in non-sports Rolex watches such as the Oyster Perpetual, Datejust, Sky-Dweller—Rolex has even paired the Day-Date with Oyster bracelets.
Given its ubiquity across Rolex collections, it comes as no surprise that the Oyster bracelet has been made in every metal Roles uses—steel, three shade of gold, platinum, and two-tone, not to mention lavish gem-set versions too.
Rolex President Bracelet
The most exclusive Rolex bracelet of them all, the President bracelet is only made in precious metals, whether 18k gold or 950 platinum, and is composed of semi-circular links in a three-piece grouping. The President bracelet was first introduced in 1956 on the very first Day-Date watch. The association between the Day-Date and the President bracelet is so strong that the watch is actually more commonly referred to as the Rolex President watch.
Throughout its history, the President bracelet has only ever been made available with Day-Date watches and select gold or platinum ladies’ Datejust watches. While President bracelets are exclusively made in gold or platinum, Rolex has experimented with textures such as bark finishes, pyramid detailing, and of course, gem-setting.
Cartier Watch Bracelets
In addition to having plenty of famous case shapes in its current catalog and archives, Cartier watches are also known for some renowned bracelet silhouettes too.
Cartier Santos Bracelet
Although the Santos name has been a part of Cartier’s watch collection since 1904, it wasn’t until the late-1970s that the modern Santos watch as we know it today was released. Not only did the then-new 1978 Santos watch bring together stainless steel and yellow gold on one watch—a first for Maison Cartier—but it was also fitted with a very distinctive bracelet.
The Santos watch bracelet features broad horizontal links, punctuated with exposed screws that match the screws found on the watch’s bezel. The look is especially prominent with two-tone versions with steel links and yellow gold screws.
Cartier Panthère Bracelet
The ultra-glamorous Cartier Panthere watch was launched in 1983 and quickly became a favorite among the celebrity-set of the era. The panther has long been a symbol of Cartier, and this time, the brand took inspiration from the big cat’s elegance and litheness when it designed the Panthere watch bracelet.
Thanks to its brick-like design of smaller and curvier links, the Panthere bracelet is flexible, supple, lightweight, and most importantly, comfortable to wear. Furthermore, the bracelet’s high-polish finish makes it look like a piece of high-jewelry rather than simply a watch band. In true Cartier fashion, the Panthere bracelet is available in an assortment of materials ranging from sleek stainless steel to precious 18k gold to opulent gem-set editions.
Breitling Watch Bracelets
Breitling is yet another watchmaker with several iconic watch bracelets to its name, mostly found among its fleet of aviation-ready chronograph watches.
Breitling Pilot Bracelet
Around 1991, Breitling unveiled a new band design called the Pilot Bracelet, characterized by five links across in a slanted layout. The Breitling Pilot Bracelet is comprised of 120 components, which come together to form a handsome yet super supple and comfortable bracelet.
As the main bracelet design of the Windrider collection, in addition to the Navitimer line in the early 1990s, Breitling has made several variants of the Pilot Bracelet over the years, including steel, gold, and two-tone versions. While most have polished links, there have been some brushed examples made as seen paired with the Blackbird watches.
Breitling Navitimer Bracelet
Clearly inspired by the Pilot Bracelet but made especially for the Navitimer, Breitling unveiled the Navitimer Bracelet in 1996. While the Breitling Navitimer Bracelet follows the distinct slanted style of the Pilot Bracelet, it features seven links rather than just five. As such, the bracelet includes around 170 components.
Depending on the metal of the Navitimer case, the Navitimer Bracelet is available in an assortment of metals including steel, gold, and two-tone combinations.
Breitling Rouleaux Bracelet
During the earlier years of the Breitling Chronomat, the famed chronograph was available with what was called a Rouleaux bracelet (French for “rollers), designed with cylindrical links. With its cylindrical links, the Rouleaux bracelet, commonly nicknamed the “bullet bracelet cylindrical, was highly fashionable in the 1980s and 1990s. Breitling eventually discontinued making them, focusing instead on other bracelet designs like the Pilot, Navitimer, Professional, and so on.
However, the Breitling Rouleaux bracelet has recently made a comeback in the newest generation of Chronomat watches, released in 2020.
We’ve come to the end of Part I of our round-up of famous watch bracelets. But the story is far from over. Stay tuned for Part II featuring famous watch bracelet from Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Omega coming soon to the blog.