Nathan Schultz






December 04, 2023

Shopping for rubber straps can feel like navigating the Wild West. With so many mysterious materials and categories available, purchasing a rubber strap can be daunting. Fear not! This guide takes a deep dive into the universe of rubber watch straps, highlighting their advantages over other strap types, demystifying various materials, and offering invaluable tips for selecting the best rubber straps for your cherished timepieces.

What is the difference between silicone and FKM straps?

To get us started, let's look at the difference between the two most common types of rubber straps you will encounter:



Silicone is a type of synthetic rubber with some impressive advantages over standard rubber. If you’ve purchased a rubber strap before, there is a good chance it was made of silicone. I like to think of silicone as rubber on steroids. This magic to this seemingly simple synthetic material lies within its framework of alternating silicon and oxygen bonds.

Advantages of Silicone:

  • This structure allows for silicone to be stronger and more resistant to heat and light than standard rubber. 
  • The water resistant properties of silicon make it an ideal choice for outdoor activities, be it diving in cold ocean water or hiking on a hot sweaty day.

Disadvantages of Silicone:

  • This wonder material is unfortunately a dust magnet. Thankfully silicone is easy to clean, because it requires frequent cleaning to keep it looking fresh. Watch forums are full of tips to remedy this problem, using everything from household products such as toothpaste and fabric softener to products made specifically for the purpose of keeping dust off silicone. I haven't personally tried them, but if you have, please leave a comment below with you experience!


FKM Rubber

If you're doing some Google searching for silicone watch straps, you are bound to come across FKM straps too. But what is this material and how does it differ from silicone? FKM (an acronym for Fluorine Kautschuk Material) offers a step up on quality from silicon. If silicon is rubber on steroids, you can think of FKM as silicon on steroids. 

Advantages of FKM:

  • FKM offers the comfort of silicone with an even greater resistance to heat.
  • FKM has hypoallergenic properties, making it an ideal choice to reduce the risk of skin irritation.
  • Perhaps the greatest advantage to FKM is that it doesn't attract dust like silicone does! Sure, some dust and dirt will find its way onto your strap, but not nearly as much as a silicone strap. And, like silicone, FKM is easily washable, making it easy to keep this material looking fresh day in and day out.

Disadvantages of FKM:

  • The primary disadvantage of FKM is the price. While there are still plenty of FKM straps out there for less than $50, you won't find $10 bargains like you can with silicone, but those $10 straps are best to be avoided (more on this below).


What are the top 5 benefits of rubber straps?

With so many types of straps on the market, why choose rubber? Let’s take a look at the top 5 benefits of rubber straps!

  1. They are fun! Seriously, what's not to like about a brightly colored strap that is waterproof? I always feel some child-like joy when replacing a boring leather strap with a vibrant rubber strap. There is no better way to dress down a watch in style while simultaneously increasing its versatility. 
  2. Supreme comfort. Gone are the days of stiff rubber straps. No matter if you choose silicone or FKM, the rubber straps of today are supple and a pleasure to wear.
  3. Ease of cleaning. If you're used to cleaning fabric straps, you're familiar with the process of busting out the dish soap, an old toothbrush, and breaking a sweat until your strap looks (nearly) new again. Rubber simplifies the cleaning process. Running your rubber strap under some cold water is typically all it takes to restore your strap to its original condition. And thanks to the waterproof properties of rubber, you don't even have to wait for your strap to dry before returning it to your wrist!
  4. Versatile and practical. Rubber straps offer an alternative to the downfalls of other common strap materials. Metal bracelets are heavy and prone to scratches. Leather is far from the ideal choice in the sweat-inducing summer heat. And, after a dip in the ocean, Nylon will leave you with a soggy wrist as you lounge on the beach. Rubber solves all of these issues. Lightweight, scratch resistant and designed to shed off water, this material rises above the rest
  5. All-occasion appeal. Any setting is a good setting for rubber. While rubber’s water resistance makes it an ideal choice for summer aquatic adventures, I enjoy the benefits of rubber straps year round. This Sailcloth strap with grey stitching would be perfect for a formal occasion, and this funky yellow Tropic strap is sure to be the life of the after party.


Tips to maximize your rubber strap collection

Now that you know the benefits and types of rubber straps, let's look at some tips for finding the best rubber strap

  • Don't skimp on price. Rubber straps are inherently cheaper than metal and often less expensive than leather. Embrace the cost savings, but don't go for the cheapest rubber strap you can find. Chances are that a $10 strap without reviews will be a dust magnet fitted with keepers that fail to do their job and hardware that will eventually fail. Learn from my previous purchase mistakes, and don't settle for a fuzzy floppy strap. Instead, invest that money in a strap with quality materials and positive reviews. I like to think of it this way: A quality steel bracelet will often cost you $100 or more. A good rubber strap can often be found for half this price. Its already a cheaper material, you might as well invest in a strap that will be a joy to wear today and years from now.
  • Opt for quick release spring bars. While still rare on metal straps, quick release has become the industry standard for rubber straps. With this innovation, scratching lugs and shooting spring bars across the room are a thing of the past.
  • Diversity your collection. Treat yourself to a variety of rubber straps! These aren’t boring steel bracelets or brown leather straps that all tend to look the same. Rubber straps offer no shortage of variety to customize your wearing experience. I personally have a collection of everything from black FKM to crimson silicone and love the versatility they offer.

Add a rubber strap to your collection today

Navigating the expansive realm of rubber watch straps doesn't need to be an overwhelming task. Armed with comprehensive insights into materials, benefits, and expert tips, you can confidently explore and create a rubber strap collection that not only complements your watches but elevates your overall wearing experience. Zuludiver is home to a carefully curated selection of the best replacement straps for your watches. With a variety of choices in the most common sizes, you are sure to find a rubber watch strap for your favorite watch.

Check out our collection of Sailcloth, Tropic and Italian Rubber straps today!

Nathan Schultz

About the Author: Nathan Schultz

About the Author: Nathan Schultz

Nathan Schultz is a New Hampshire based writer obsessed with affordable mechanical timepieces. When not collecting, modifying and writing about watches, he can be found putting them to the test on local hiking trails.

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