Rubber watch straps started gaining popularity in the 1960s and were common among divers venturing below the waves owing to their robust nature and high water resistance.
However, not all straps met the standards of quality that users wanted. Some were uncomfortable, while others lacked durability. And there was nothing to write home about their looks.
But rubber straps somehow found a way to maintain their utility over the years, with companies like Tropic succeeding in creating watch straps that dominated the market.
Later on, Tudor hopped on the bandwagon and began making diving watches with rubber straps.
And then, everyone else came on board, especially when makers of sports watches discovered that rubber straps were the perfect solution to the problems their customers experienced with leather and metal straps.
The time when rubber watch straps were considered weak, non-breathable, and uncomfortably sticky is long gone. Over the last 50 years, revolutionary changes in the manufacturing sector have led to the production of a wide variety of high quality and high performance natural and synthetic watch straps.
Whereas rubber straps were only popular among sports enthusiasts and divers, they have gradually warmed their way into the mainstream market and are now considered stylish and practical alternatives to metal or leather straps.
These straps come in varying shapes, colors, and patterns, and this article will review some of the best offerings in the market.
Why Do You Need a Rubber Watch Strap?
Granted, a rubber watch strap may not score you as many fashion points as a leather one, but it holds its own. It is ideal for sports watches since it is waterproof and can withstand rough use. It is also soft and flexible and could even work in certain formal settings. Here are some advantages of rubber watch straps.
They are Affordable
Rubber is easy on the pocket. First, it is cheap because it is grown in vast amounts in places like India and Indonesia. Secondly, it is immensely durable. One strap will last you for years.
They are Washable
Unlike metal straps, which generally shouldn’t get wet, or nylon straps, which trap dirt within their fabric, rubber bands are naturally dirt and water repellent. And they are easy to clean if need be.
They are Waterproof
Rubber straps are completely waterproof, making them the ideal choice for wet environments. It’s no wonder that they are one of the most popular choices in diving circles. Nowadays, any dive watch manufacturer worth their salt with always include rubber strap options in their collection.
What are the Different Types of Rubber?
It is not enough to talk about rubber in general since it is available in different forms. There are two broad categories here: natural and synthetic. While natural rubber is grown from plants, synthetic rubber is artificially made in a laboratory or chemical plant from petroleum-based monomers.
Natural rubber is affordable and intrinsically elastic. So you can warp, compress, or pull it in any direction you like, and it will always revert to their original state.
But it has its weaknesses. First, natural rubber is not exactly sweat-wicking, so expect things to get a little bit clumsy in the heat. Secondly, the rubber will degrade over time because U.V. light breaks down the polymers. In comparison, a regular watch should sit out in the sun all day with zero degradation.
Silicon is a synthetic rubber built to eliminate the limitations that come with natural rubber—it is water, heat, and light-resistant and can withstand any form of warping. But it is not oil resistant and is therefore unfavorable for oily environments and a big no-no for skins that produce a lot of natural oils.
PU rubber is made from rubber and plastic, creating a hybrid with the strength of both. It has the softness of rubber and the rigidity of plastic. Although some people may find it a bit rough on the skin, it is exceedingly durable and functional.
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Best Rubber Watch Straps You Can Buy Today
Rubber watch straps are available in different types, styles, sizes, colors, and patterns. With too many things to consider when buying a watch strap, the journey can get overwhelming. Luckily, we have narrowed the search down to ten of the best watch straps on the market today.
Isofrane traces its beginnings back to the 1960s when it enjoyed considerable success with models such as Squale, Omega, Tissot, Aquastar, and Scubapro, which were very popular among professional scuba divers. No doubt, it changed the shape of diving, but the company went under in the 1980s.
Luckily, it made a comeback in 2010. And you can now get your hands on the latest version of the iconic ladder strap — Isofrane 1968.
The strap is specially crafted for professional divers, but anyone who loves sports or carries their watch into the pool or shower can still enjoy this comfortable, high-quality strap that comes in multiple colors.
2. Everest Curved End Rubber Strap
Everest is a dominant force in the world of rubber straps with unique designs that are custom made to fit some of the top-of-the-line watch models.
The Curved End rubber strap was specifically made to fit one of the most iconic Swiss watches—Rolex. And although other rubber strap options for Rolex exist, none of them matches its quality and attention to detail.
Like a true Everest, the strap comes in a wide variety of color options, including green, orange, blue, white, and red. But it is its vulcanized rubber which takes the cake. It is water, dust, U.V., and chemical resistant and has one of the most comfortable fits you will ever experience in a strap.
The Watch Gecko Zulidiver is made from polyurethane rubber-a flexible, durable, and waterproof material best suited for swimming, diving, and other sporting activities.
Compared to straps made from P.V.C., you will get more resistance to U.V. radiation and better adaptability in salty water. And it won’t attract as much dust as silicone rubber.
But what is most exciting is that these bands come with a printed N.D.L. table. Of course, you can easily compute the limits and stops with a diver computer, but having them on your wrist won’t hurt.
And the best thing is that the lower half of the strap is easily reversible, making it possible to hide the table against your skin.
You get to choose between 20mm and 22mm in red, blue, orange, or black. The manufacturer throws in floating keepers and good quality stainless steel buckles to entice you further.
The Barton Bands Elite combines durability, comfort, and style. It features quick release spring bars that make it easy to swap from one strap to another extremely fast and a 316L stainless steel buckle. The band is available in five different colors (Stainless steel, Gold, Black, Rose Gold, and Gunmetal) and is immune to bending, warping, or breaking.
It can fit18mm, 19mm, 20mm, 21mm, 22mm, 23mm, and 24mm lug widths, but to sweeten the deal, each strap comes in two lengths, making it almost impossible for you to get a strap that doesn’t fit regardless of your wrist size.
5. Uncle Seiko Waffle Strap
The waffle strap is one of the most admired models of the 1960s and gets its name from its unmistakable waffle-iron shape. However, finding a vintage strap in good condition is a tricky affair because the waffle straps were prone to cracking and breaking.
However, the new version accurately maintains the vintage iconic style while still catering to the needs of current watches. Featuring a brush stainless steel buckle, the waffle comes in a variety of sizes and also offers you a choice between single or double keepers.
Granted, there are other more modern designs out there, but if you love the vintage style, the waffle is an excellent choice.
The Hirsch Accent is made from premium caoutchouc, a natural rubber that is water, U.V. light, chemical, and heat resistant. It is also tear-proof. From its looks, the strap could easily be mistaken for a leather model owing to its size and taper.
Roughly measuring 120mm X 80mm long, it comes in either a 22mm size that tapers to 16mm at the buckle or a 20mm option that tapers to 18mm. With either option, you have plenty of color choices for the buckle, including black, gold, silver, or brushed.
7. Otto Frei’s Swiss Tropic Strap
If you are looking for a beautiful watch strap, Otto Frei’s Swiss Tropic won’t disappoint. It is manufactured from Otto Frei’s workshop based in California and is one of the most affordable and practical watch straps on our list.
Flaunting a silicon rubber construction, its 20mm stainless steel buckle and 22mm lag remain consistent in size all through. While the strap’s total length is 7 ½ inches, its usable length ranges between 3 ¾ inches and 6 ¾ inches.
Overall, the Otto Frei is a must-have for a strap enthusiasts looking for dependability.
8. SHINOLA Black Rubber Strap
If you love American brands, SHINOLA should be at the top of your list. Like SHINOLA’s watches, their watch straps do not disappoint thanks to excellent workmanship and time-tested techniques.
The material of choice here is high-quality nitrile rubber that guarantees durability and comfort. Think about resistance to extreme weather, sweat, oil, and chemicals.
You might have to pay a little more for these straps, but you can bank on their reliability, comfort, and fit without compromising on style. Sadly you will only get them in black, but there’s a handsome brushed buckle finish.
The Seiko Monster Diver is a black replacement strap with 22mm band width. While it may not be as flexible as the Isofrane, it is made from a strong rubber material that is flexible and water-resistant.
And despite being good for the money, it doesn’t feel as stiff as other rubber straps. You will also love that the strap is easy to install. Overall, it is a high-quality strap that fits perfectly.
10. Joseph Bonnie Tropic Rubber Strap
Just like the classic Tropic Strap, Joseph Bonnie rocks a vintage look that is available in blue, black, and military green colors. Built to honor the dive watches of the 1960s, the strap has a lot to offer from its hypoallergenic silicone build. It is comfortable, flexible, ultra-resistant, and easy to maintain.
The watch strap also features an EASY-BAR system that allows you to quickly switch between different straps of varying sizes, styles, and colors without too much hassle. It is a must-have for surfers, scuba divers, and anyone who loves the deep waters.
Despite earlier criticism, the rubber watch strap has earned its spot on the table. Apart from dominating the diving niche and the sports scene in general, it has also become a luxury watch accessory.
And with their practicality, security, comfort, and durability, it is not surprising that many exotic watch brands are now including rubber straps in their collection.
Rubber watch straps come in various types, sizes, colors, and patterns and are available in different price ranges. There are many things to consider when deciding which rubber watchstrap deserves space in your collection.
Which type of rubber do you pick? Which color will suit your personality? Which design is the most functional? Fortunately for you, our list includes the best rubber watch straps available at different price ranges.
Are you looking for something affordable with fancy bright colors for occasional leisure use? Then maybe Watch Gecko Zuludiver Polyurethane NLD Strap will tickle your fancy.
But if you are a professional diver working in subsea engineering, you should consider getting the best rubber watch strap available. In that case, Everest Curved End Rubber Strap might just be what you need.