WatchCharts Forum

Buy the Bracelet, not the Watch

Originally published at: https://watchcharts.com/wp/2020/07/08/buy-the-bracelet-not-the-watch

I imagine many of you reading the title of this article will think I’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole when I say I value the bracelet more than the watch itself. How can a simple chain of metal links with a clasp and some spring bars possibly be more important than a beautifully…

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I have to 100% agree with you here Jason. I am a bracelet guy, Of the 100+ watches ive owned, almost all of them have been on a bracelet. I have tried leather, I have tried sail cloth, ive tried perlon, Nato, rubber, canvas, velcro, etc…
to me, and this might sound strange, but to me the steel bracelet give the watch its personality.
Yes the watch head is the brains and the face of the operation, but its the bracelet that ties it together and ultimately finishes the look of the watch.
I have a watch that i will never remove the bracelet from because its so iconic and gives the watch its signature look. My Omega SMPc. I have other watches that depending on what bracelet (or strap in some cases) I put on it can change the personality of the watch.
for example, I have a Glycine Combat Sub; On its stock Oyster bracelet it looks like a nice dress diver, meaning sporty, yet refined and kind of “classy” with its polished case and bezel. when i put it on a shark mesh bracelet it starts looking more aggressive and has that old school dive watch tool feel to it. If I put it on a vintage style leather, it looks a bit more formal, and if I put it on a Nato, to me it just looses its identity all together.
I love bracelets, I can spot a watch from across a store based on its bracelet. I do it all the time with my wife when we are shopping, ill say, “look, that guy has a Rolex on”, or “thats an Omega”, or “thats a Breitling, or Tag Heuer”. all of which, to me, have a good portion of their identity tied up in their bracelet designs.
sorry for the rant, I just love bracelets, and to me they are as important a design element as every other part of the watch. I think some brands fail in this aspect, I love Micro Brand watches, however its easy to tell when a brand doesnt put any effort into the bracelet design, and to me that just seems lazy.

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Thanks for the comment Jack, glad to hear I’m not alone in prioritizing the bracelet when looking at new watches. I bought two aftermarket straps for my SMP and neither lasted longer than a week, it’s back on bracelet and likely there to stay. I’m thinking of things like the Cartier Santos or an Omega Constellation for the next watch as a dressier piece, both of which have iconic bracelets. APRO and its bretheren are out of my financial reach though unfortunately :frowning:

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Jason, I really enjoyed this article.

Despite the fact that I find myself more of a strap guy (so much so that I started selling watch straps), I always try to buy a watch on a bracelet, especially if it is a “keeper” watch. As you mentioned, a bracelet will last forever, and is much more difficult and expensive to source separately from the watch later.

An “average” bracelet doesn’t do much for the watch, but a bracelet that has an iconic design, or a superb clasp mechanism can make the watch. The Tudor Pelagos is a good example of a great clasp, and the Planet Ocean has iconic smooth links.

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There are so many little details that a watch company can put into the bracelet that show quality craftsmanship and integration of the total design element of the watch. I bring up my Omega again simply because the bracelet is amazing; beautiful attention to detail, and fit and finish are almost perfect. The design element of the 5 different links with different finishes (polished, brushed, machined) combined with perfectly machined edges give the bracelet a beautiful refined and high end look.

To give an example of how the little details mean a lot, Ill compare the SMP bracelet to my Aevig Huldra V2. The V2 Huldra has a very nice all brushed finish Jubilee style bracelet with solid end links, and a nice on the fly adjusting clasp. On the surface this sounds great! a vintage style diver with a vintage style quality Jubilee! it tapers from 22mm to 20, so thats nice… however when you look deeper, and wear it, you see where costs were cut.
They seemed to save money with the finishing, the edges of the links are sharply cut and finished, no radiusing, or bevel, or more expensive edge transition. Also, the back of the end links, on the underside of the watch are sharp enough to cut paper, again cheap finishing, and speaking of sharp, the edges of the clasp are just as razor sharp. The last issues with the bracelet are in the clasp, its a nice 2 button style release, but to close the clasp and engage the lock, i have to actually close it and then bang it hard with my right hand, otherwise both of the button locks do not grab the lock ball, and it will fall open… and the other issue is the on the fly push button length adjustment, while a great idea, and i love having it, is executed poorly, the buttons are very stiff, and the extender does not slide smooth at all.

None of this is a deal breaker, but as a bracelet guy, these are the little details that mean just as much as the visual flair that a bracelet brings to a watch.

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I agree, the latest generation SMP bracelet is a thing of wonder. The only clasp I know of that is definitively better is the one on the Pelagos as Nick rightly mentioned, but the proportions on the Tudor are a little bulky for my wrist. If your wrist size was 18cm or above and you wanted a quality diver with a tool-watch vibe for less money than the SMP, the Pelagos stands pretty much peerless. But I digress.

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