Rubber Watch Straps: A Quick Guide


There was a period when a synthetic rubber band for watches was an unpleasantly sticky, non-breathable, specialty object with a crack tendency. Usually, they weren’t the trendiest accessories for watches. But that was decades ago, and things were shifting.

Throughout the last 50 years, a change in materials and production has resulted in a wide variety of high-quality, increased organic and inorganic rubber watch straps. Oh, they’re trendy now, and it’s also one of the best watch straps to wear on a swim.

The pivotal moment for rubber watch straps as luxurious accessories was possibly in the 1980s, when Hublot launched luxurious timepieces with rubber watch straps (or metal and rubber hybrid straps). So, if you’re prepared to get into rubber, here’s our intro to this most functional, flexible and exceedingly stylish watch strap content…

Different kinds of rubber for watch straps

This is not going to be a profound lesson in synthetic and natural rubber chemistry and physics. There are several reliable sources of knowledge for specialists who are far more qualified to address the subject. But from a watch strap viewpoint, it’s worth summarizing the key forms of ‘rubber’ you’re going to find quickly.

Natural rubber

As we’ve seen, some of the older natural rubber watch straps did not work that well. Today, however, we have vulcanized nitrile rubber watch bands.  This is one of the most common and commonly used for high-performance purposes. As with any rubber, its quality is not completely described by its form, be it silicone rubber, NBR (Nitrile Butadiene Rubber), PVC rubber or polyurethane rubber. Unique formulation and production by manufacturers such as Bonetto Cinturini are also essential.

Silicone rubber

This rubber-like product that tends to be less commonly used for serious high quality watch straps – with rare examples such as Sinn, who sell silicone rubber bands on designs as varied as their duo chronograph (precise timekeeping instrument) and U200 (EZM 8) task timer. While silicone can be readily moulded and coloured, it has a notoriety for slipperiness, a potential to rip and a tendency to attract dirt and lint.

PU rubber

Polyurethane rubber (‘urethane’) is yet another material with elastic characteristics – an elastomer – consisting of a series of organic units connected by urethane (carbamate) compounds. They are very robust, highly efficient, but are often stated to be less pleasant than natural rubber.

PVC rubber

Shinier than composites like PU rubber, this is a thermoplastic vinyl rubber that is very strong, but lacks the features for high-end uses that make NBR so attractive.

Others Rubber Forms

Over the decades, many synthetic rubbers, like neoprene and isoprene, have been made from petrochemical foundations. Both have follow-up professionals. In general, isoprene straps enjoy a decent quality, but at a cost that is more than just a top-quality vulcanized rubber watch strap.

As always with timepieces and watch parts, the choice of various styles of watch straps includes a variety of factors. Whether you pick organic NBR rubber or synthetic rubber, your choice of straps will reflect the way you use it and your personal tastes. Fancy bright colours and ‘cheap and happy’ for occasional leisure use? Then maybe an inexpensive silicone wristwatch band is going to be enough.

But if you’re working as a diver in subsea engineering, you’re going to want the best dive watch band you can find – a strap that’s robust and comfortable for extended wear. In this case, a PU, isoprene or Italian Bonetto Cinturini NATO brace is more likely to suit your needs.

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