Types of Watch Bands or Straps | Gray & Sons

Watch straps

Watchstraps are quite literally the only divide between a wristwatch sitting on your wrist, to being a relic sitting in your pocket. Without them, the convenience of modern wrist wear is lost, and the cumbersome thought of carrying your grandfather’s pocket watch around becomes a grim reality. While a traditional pocket watch can still be appreciated under the right circumstances, not everyone wants to sacrifice convenience for convention. With the plethora of options available for watchstraps, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which is right for you. This guide should shine some light on the different types of watchstraps available and help you find your perfect style.

One of the more popular options for a casual appearance, the Nato strap has been a fan favorite to achieving a fashionable, yet casual look, regardless of what watch brand its on. From more affordable watches such as Timex, to the highest echelon of luxury watches in Rolex, the woven nylon based Nato strap continues to appeal to even the most devote members of the watch community. Its versatility, durability, and more importantly, affordability, are what make the unconventional watchstrap material so popular. It also helps that it comes in a variety of patterns and colors, which further increases the possibilities to match any desired look.
Nato straps
Rally watchstraps were created to be a comfortable, breathable, and lightweight option for the automotive industry, hence its name rally. They have large noticeable holes, sometimes of varying sizes, cut out of the band material and they serve as the ideal solution for racing enthusiasts because while providing all 3 of those aforementioned attributes, they also provide a rugged and refined look. Typical watchstraps leave the wrist hot and sweaty, which in turn ruins the band material. Rally watchstraps allow for your skin to breath through the large perforations, keeping your wrist cool and prolonging the life of the strap.
As one of the heftier watchstrap options available, the Engineer watchstrap is not for the faint of wrist. Featuring bulky linkage, and heavy-set metal, this bracelet is perfect for those who tend to put their watches through intense usage. The small interlocked link pattern does a great job of concealing scratches since the exposed surface area is less than its larger metal link bracelet alternatives, which is why it is the preferred choice for hands-on professionals. Engineer watchstraps are some of the most durable available, but also the heaviest, so keep both in mind when deciding if this strap is right for you.
Engineer bracelet
Aviator watchstraps feature thick, durable material with metal rivets attached near the lugs, inspired by the early days of flight. Fueled by innovation and human endeavor, aviator watchstraps were meant to be a pilots best friend for keeping their watch firmly attached to their wrists without the risk of it flying off during battle. The rivets were added as an extra security measure, but today, serve mainly for aesthetic appeal. Aviator watchstraps are a popular option for those looking for unique style, or for those looking to take the fighter jet out for the weekend.
-Shark/Milanese Mesh watchstraps are essentially chainmail, for your wrist. Very small, interlocked loops of metal rings, joined together to create a highly resilient, relatively flexible, and incredibly fashionable watchstrap. While it is not meant to fend off a sword attack like its chainmail design would suggest, it certainly makes more extreme activities possible without the fear of losing your watch. It lacks singular linkage points like most metal watch bracelets held together with pins, which in turn creates fewer opportunities for the bracelet to break. The small mesh pattern creates a stronger composition with fewer breaking points, while also allowing breathability through its open spaces. There are several different types of mesh bracelets including shark mesh, which have larger interlocked loops that provide more flexibility, and also Milanese mesh, which is considered a more dressy option with a much smaller mesh pattern.
Leather watch straps certainly don't need an introduction, as they have been the trusted companion to watches since the dawn of time- figuratively speaking. The material itself is associated with luxury and elegance and is usually offered as a premium option for anything that provides fabric choices. Its light, classy, and appealing, but it is one of the least durable watch strap options available. Leather degrades over time thanks to the bodily fluids it is subjected to, plus its highly pliable and will take a bigger beating under normal usage when compared to other watch strap variants. Don't let its durability scare you off however, because you can never go wrong with a leather strap. From calf skin, to synthetic, to even lizard, theres a leather watch strap options for everyone.
While rubber certainly doesn’t scream luxury, it is still warmly embraced by the watch community. Originally meant to serve as a more affordable alternative to metal bracelets, it can be seen today being used on sport models of very high-end brands including Breitling, Hublot, and even Rolex. Flexibility, affordability, durability, and versatility are all benefits you can expect from rubber watch straps. You can take it deep sea diving, rough it up during extreme activities, and even wear it to the beach under the blistering sun, and at the end of the day it will still look good as new. This virtual indestructibleness is why rubber makes sense to many who don't want to have to worry about their watch straps, and in the event it does break, it is easily replaceable.
One of the three main bracelet options made popular by Rolex, the Oyster watch strap is without question their most celebrated offering. Its 3 sectional linkage makes it extremely sturdy and less vulnerable to stretching, which is a common issue overtime with other Rolex bracelets. The larger link design of the Oyster bracelet provides for a perfect balance of form and function, giving you the versatility of an everyday strap with the aesthetics to go from work formal to weekend casual in no time at all. One of the only downsides of the Oyster option in comparison to other Rolex bracelets is that due to its larger link assembly, it is less flexible on the wrist. If flexibility isn’t a concern when weighing your watch strap choices, you certainly won’t regret going with the popular opinion in the Oyster.
The classier, and more dignified brother of the Oyster, the President bracelet is the perfect choice for those looking for a more elegant watch strap option. While it shares a 3 sectional linkage design like the Oyster, the overall individual link height is drastically shorter, meaning that more links are needed to complete a full bracelet. One of the key benefits of this shorter link design is that it makes the President bracelet much more flexible since it has more points of rotation. However, with this increase in flexible joints, it also leaves the bracelet vulnerable to stretching out overtime, making the President watch strap a less than ideal option for the more demanding wearer.
The Jubilee watch bracelet is unlike any other watch bracelet on the market, and in fact, it is almost an accessory in itself thanks to its elegant construction. It consists of shorter links like that of the President bracelet, but is divided into 5 individual pieces across the width, instead of 3. The outer 2 pieces are large and have a matte finish while the 3 connecting interior pieces are much thinner and have a polished finished, and often come in a contrasting metal tone. The similarities to the President bracelet don’t stop at the shorter links however, because it is also equally susceptible to flexing over time. The price of looking like a fine piece of jewelry is the weakened structural integrity, but unless your watch is going through extreme conditions, the Jubilee watch bracelet is the perfect accessory to compliment your watch accessory.