Some call them metal straps. Some call them bracelets. Whatever you call them, they are everywhere! But what makes a metal strap different from other common materials such as leather and rubber, and how do you find the best one to compliment your favorite watch? Let’s explore the world of metal straps and find out!
The Anatomy of a Bracelet
A metal bracelet is made of several different components that all work together to comfortably secure a watch to your wrist. Like any other type of strap, a bracelet uses spring bars to attach the strap to the lugs of the watch. Measured by lug width, the most common sizes are 18, 20 and 22 mm.
Just like any other type of strap, certain hardware is dedicated to opening and closing. On a metal bracelet this job is reserved for the clasp. There are different types of clasps including the ever popular deployant clasp.
- This style is a classic for a reason and utilizes a curved, secure folding Z shape designed to sit snugly on your wrist. One advantage to this type of clasp is the space for micro-adjust holes. In addition to removing links for a bracelet to find the perfect fit, this method offers on the fly adjustment.
Or, there is the butterfly clasp:
- This is a more subtle type of clasp. Because it opens like wings from the middle (hence the name), it visually integrates more seamlessly into the bracelet. This type of clasp is a popular choice for dress watches, such as the Rolex President or the Formex Essence.
Types of Metal Straps
Like much of the industry, Rolex is a trend setter here. It's common to see three link bracelets referred to as Oyster bracelets and five link bracelets referred to as Jubilee bracelets. These are trademarked terms and we won't be using them here, but they are prevalent in watch reviews and articles, so knowing the common lingo can help navigate the world of bracelets.
Three link- The three link bracelet is the most popular style. These ubiquitous bracelets are commonly found on sporty watches. Personally, I find this bracelet style to be the most versatile. A dive watch can pass on a three link bracelet in a formal setting, but also looks at home with casual attire such as shorts and a t- shirt.
H link- H link bracelets get their name from the H shaped outer links. While still sporty and appropriate for all settings, they offer a more elegant aesthetic than a standard three link bracelet.
Five link- Looking for an even more elegant bracelet to bring out the bling of your favorite watch? A five link bracelet is a great choice for a dress watch. Additional links mean improved articulation. This bracelet style is often applauded for its supreme comfort.
Mesh- Mesh is popular for its strength and ability to articulate. It also provides a vintage aesthetic that compliments dive watches well. From personal experience, a quality mesh strap can enhance a watch, but a cheap mesh strap will quickly ruin the wearing experience. If opting for mesh, be sure to read the reviews opt for quality.
Beads of rice- Love the articulation of a five link bracelet but want a sportier look? Then a beads of rice bracelet might be the perfect choice for you. First seen in the 1940’s and remaining popular in the following decades, this style of bracelet offers the perfect mix of vintage charm and comfort.
How do I decide which type of bracelet is best for me?
It comes down to aesthetics. There are comfortable third party options available for every type of metal strap. While a five link bracelet might articulate better than a three link, I’ve found the difference on the wrist to be negligible. A quality bracelet wears well, no matter if it's made of mesh or how many links it has.
When selecting a metal strap, my advice is to first determine what style you are looking for. Maybe that means a mesh bracelet to get that vintage look from your dive watch, or a five link bracelet to bring out the elegance of your favorite dress watch. Once you’ve selected a style, the most important aspect is to purchase something quality. While a cheap leather strap might pass as comfortable, a poorly made bracelet will rattle, pull your arm hair, and quickly ruin the wearing experience. If possible, seek out bracelets with solid end links and milled clasps. These are often an indication that the manufacturer cares about quality.
Zuludiver is home to a variety of top-quality, affordable bracelets. No matter if you are looking for a three link, five link, H link, mesh or beads of rice metal strap, you can trust a Zuludiver metal bracelet to be secure and comfortable. Made of highly durable 316 stainless steel, Zuludiver metal straps are corrosion resistant. With universal straight ends and available in the most popular sizes, Zuludiver metal straps are ready to compliment your favorite watches today.