Nothing Beats The Comfort of These 9 Watches and Their Rubber Straps - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Nothing Beats The Comfort of These 9 Watches and Their Rubber Straps

Rubber soul.

Blame it on fetish clubs, swimming caps or mud-splattered gumboots. But rubber, it’s fair to say, hasn’t always enjoyed the most debonair of reputations. And, for many years, that bothered luxury watch brands, whose livelihoods depend on creating products that convey a sense of tangible opulence.

More specifically, this mindset influenced their choice of watch straps, encouraging them to stick with the gentlemanly associations of leather, the utilitarian sheen of the metal bracelet or the old-school military vibe of the trusty old NATO strap.

The fearless disruptor in this space was the Swiss watch brand Hublot that launched in 1980 with an attention-grabbing product. Founder Carlo Crocco unveiled a watch that melded two materials in an unlikely combination. The case of the Hublot Classic Fusion ticked all the upmarket boxes through being hewn from 18k yellow-gold. But where this precious-metal timepiece subverted the status quo was by arriving on a black rubber strap.

At the time, this felt like a vaguely sacrilegious move, but Crocco wasn’t doing it for shock value. As a keen sailor, he wanted to build his brand around water – the name “Hublot” means porthole in French. Rubber was a practical material for a watch that could be worn on the deck of a sailing boat with zero concerns about water damage. 

After people got over the shock of this iconoclastic pairing, they started getting used to the idea, perhaps helped by the fact that luxury sports watches like the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak had helped to reposition steel in a similarly lofty way. Presently, other luxury watch brands began to embrace rubber straps, too. This was less about jumping on a fashion bandwagon and more the realisation that rubber straps actually made hard-headed sense. Not only could they be made in a range of colours to open up a host of design options, but rubber was also an extremely functional material. For starters, these straps were waterproof, making them the logical choice for any sport watches geared towards diving or watersports.  They were also durable, lightweight, simple to adjust and – as anyone who’s been to a fetish club can gratefully attest – very easy to clean.

Today, the acceptance of rubber straps is almost universal, but they’ve become particularly prized for their knack of making a luxury watch fly under the radar. Not everyone will be comfortable wearing a solid gold watch that attracts eyeballs. But that’s not a problem for, say, the Rolex Yacht-Master. Sure, it’s made from 18k gold and is a high-end proposition in every conceivable sense. Yet it wears this baller status lightly thanks to a strap made from Oysterflex, Rolex’s famously comfortable take on rubber, which serves as a counterpoint to the gold.

The rubber strap effectively transforms the entire image of the watch, making it far
more wearable, unobtrusive… and relatable.

This shouldn’t be surprising, either. After all, your watch strap takes up significantly more real estate on your wrist than the timepiece itself, so will make a huge visual difference. 

Shiny bracelets catch the light and demand attention. Rubber straps retreat gracefully into the background. All of which explains why rubber’s ongoing popularity in the watch world is ultimately no great stretch. 

BALL Watch Diver Worldtimer $4700

DOXA SUB 300 Carbon $5490

OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M $10,575

Rolex Yacht-Master $38,450

Hublot Big Bang Unico Yellow Magic $36,600

Mido Ocean Star Diver 600 $2675

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 LE $6300

Bremont MB Savanna $7800

Citizen Promaster Diver Eco-Drive Titanium Watch BN0228-06W $899

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