Let’s talk watch straps. If you’re planning on buying a watch, no doubt, you will have researched the best watch brand, case styles and dial designs. But have you thought about watch straps?
A beginner’s guide to watch straps, buckles and clasps
If you’re not searching the market for an entirely new watch, you’re probably looking at replacement watch bands, or you may be in search of an additional metal bracelet to accompany your existing watch? Watch straps and bracelets are a remarkably versatile feature of any watch. If you have the tools and know-how you can switch-up the style of your watch by alternating between two or three different materials. If you’re not so clued-up on how to change a watch strap, there’s plenty of “here’s how” videos on YouTube or retailers with skilled watch technicians that can give your timepiece a quick makeover. Here’s a guide to the different types of watch straps, bracelets, buckles and clasps available on the watch market, and how best to wear them Let’s get stuck in…
Originally, wristwatches were only ever fitted with cowhide leather straps. Now you can choose between alligator, ostrich and other exotic leather straps for watches, not to mention imitation leather watch straps. Leather watch bands create a classic and traditional look on the wrist. They bridge the gap between something too casual and something too dressy, which explains why they’re still the most common kind of watch strap offered on anything from budget-friendly designer watches to authentic high-end luxury models. They also come in a range of colours, so if metal bracelets and rubber straps aren’t your thing, you can kit your beloved watch out with its own wardrobe full of dynamic coloured leather outfits that either complement or contrast the colour of your watch dial. A leather strap can come on a deployment clasp or a traditional pin/tang-style buckle.
You may require the help of your local jeweller to switch your watch bracelets over, but they are the most durable, long-lasting option for sports watches and dress watches. Just as important, they’re versatile. Whether for work or play, metal bracelets on watches look sophisticated no matter what. To look your best in a dinner suit or professional attire, pair it with a watch on a metal bracelet for a classic finish. Metal bracelets come on a myriad of fittings that are often termed, triple folding, hidden deployment or jewellery clasps. Diver’s watch bracelets can sometimes come with extension clasps to accommodate heavy diving gear. Bracelets are often crafted from materials such as steel, rose gold, white gold, yellow gold, ceramic or titanium and can even be coated with a sleek back PVD treatment for a stealthier look.
Mesh watch straps
Mesh watch straps are often called Milanese bracelets and feature beads of metal “rice” that form a tighter link formation which can often be preferred by some wearers as a more comfortable alternative to the rugged, chunkier links of a regular metal bracelet. Similar to metal bracelets, mesh straps can come in various materials such as traditional steel, 18ct rose gold, white gold and yellow gold.
Rubber watch straps
Often favoured by younger brands, rubber straps offer a sportier feel and also look great on racing-inspired watches, chronographs and diving watches. The advantages of a rubber strap fitted to a dive watch is that is can easily dry off. Other variations include perforated rubber straps to enable the skin to breathe whilst taking part in endurance sports or extreme exploration. Rubber straps can come fitted with either deployment or traditional pin buckle.
NATO watch straps
NATO straps can be found on both low-end or high-end watches and are a great way to add a touch of colour to the wrist. NATO straps on sport watches create a retro-inspired look and are often styled on chronographs. Originally created for British soldiers during the 1970s, its clear to see why watches on NATO straps are a desirable look on the wrist today. Normally crafted from one piece of material (mainly nylon) they’re also the most affordable way to change the look of your watch.
Used on leather straps, rubber bands and NATO-style straps, the pin buckle is the more traditional looking of all watch strap buckles. Operated by positioning the pin in the hole, this watch buckle enables you to adjust the length of the strap on the wrist by working up a sizing ladder of holes. Wider buckles will feature a thicker pin section which often does a better job of securing it into place.
Jewellery clasps have two main parts, a latch on one side and a hole in the other. The latch enters the hole and then it folds over and snaps closed. One advantage of a jewellery clasp on a watch strap is that is can be highly adjustable and promises sturdiness.
A regular deployant clasp will unfold into thirds, locking into place with a hook-type latch. Deployant clasps are often sported on metal and mesh bracelets but can feature on premium leather bands too. They look good and also offer extra security compared to a pin buckle.
Push-button deployant clasp
As its namesake suggests, a push button at the side of this kind of deployant clasp opens up the mechanism. These clasps look smaller than regular deployant clasps, thus can offer something a little more refined and less bulky. They’re easy to operate, convenient to open up and are more secure than standard clasps.
These kinds of clasps go the extra mile to stay secured on your wrist with a triple folding mechanism equipped with push buttons on the sides. The large clasp is visible on the strap when you’re wearing it since it’s larger than a regular deployant clasp, but these are the safest clasps out there and well-worth the higher price tag.
Often called a butterfly clasp, the hidden deployant clasp offers a more discreet fastening, consisting of two metal hinges that unfold like the wings of a butterfly. Some also feature hidden push buttons for an even more refined look and feel on the wrist.