In recent years, rubber watch straps have emerged as a popular option within the watch industry. The consumer demand for a casual, comfortable, and versatile strap is widespread as numerous watch brands of all price ranges have included rubber straps on many of their product offerings. These days, the professional work environment has shifted as many people work from home and the idea of being able to dress down your watch in a more casual setting is welcomed. Here are some of our favorite rubber clad watches for the modern watch collector:
Patek Philippe Aquanaut
Making its debut in 1997, the Aquanaut served as a more affordable alternative to the popular Nautilus. Initially released as a 1000 piece limited edition, Patek quickly followed up with a “Jumbo” version of the Aquanaut with the Ref.5065. The 5065 measured at 38mm and was mounted on a rubber strap. The decision to use a rubber strap was controversial back in 1997 as most luxury watches had traditional bracelets. In 2007, Patek released the second generation of the Aquanaut at the Baselworld fair. The latest iteration was upsized to 40mm, received an updated movement, and finished off with an integrated rubber strap.
Photo courtesy Amsterdam Vintage Watch
The iconic Luminor history goes all the way back to 1950 as Giovanni Panerai sought to improve on his current Radiomir design. The Luminor featured a crown protector, reinforced lugs sharing the same steel as the case, a cushion design, and a wider bezel. It wasn’t until 1993 that the Luminor and Luminor Marina would be introduced to the public as a consumer product. Up until then, they were only available to the military. Fast forward to 1998- Panerai released its first Luminor with the “Submersible” designation. It was an updated Luminor that included the criteria to be considered a professional dive watch. As of 2018, Panerai has separated the Submersible line into its own collection that focuses entirely on dive watches. The watches range from 42-47mm, come in a wide variety of case materials, and a depth rating of 300m.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore
In 1989, former AP CEO, Stephen Urquhart, commissioned designer, Emmanuelle Gueit, with the task of creating a watch that would attract a younger generation of watch enthusiasts. After a few years of delays, the Royal Oak Offshore made its debut at Baselworld 1993. The brand was hesitant to promote the name “Offshore” as the first 100 pieces were engraved with “Royal Oak” on the caseback. It wasn’t until the 101st piece that “Offshore” was added to the engraving. In the last 27 years, the Offshore line has spawned countless models of various sizes, complications, dial colors, and materials and has become one of Audemars Piguet’s most popular collections.
Rolex Oysterflex (Yacht-Master/Daytona)
Founded in 1905, Rolex is known as a brand steeped in tradition. Their commitment to excellence, attention to detail, and classic designs, have propelled Rolex into the biggest luxury watch brand in the world. As you can imagine, the release of the Yacht-Master ref. 116655 at Baselworld 2015 sent ripples throughout the watch industry. Straying away from their usual conservative approach, Rolex released its first ever rubber strap - the Oysterflex. The Oysterflex is an innovative and patented design as it combines the robustness and security of a metal bracelet and delivers it with the comfort and feel of a rubber strap. Inside the Oysterflex is a nickel and titanium-alloy blade that is wrapped in a high performance elastomer. The underside of the strap has wing-like rubber sections that raise it off the wearers wrist to promote airflow. Today, the Oysterflex can now be found on precious metal Yacht-Master and Daytona models.