I’ve been into watches since the 1990s and started Fratello in 2004. Ever since, I’ve seen a lot of different watch bracelets. It always amazed me that only a few watch brands are getting it ‘right’ with these bracelets. Some times, they look gorgeous but wear like crap. And other times, the looks aren’t very attractive but wear fantastic. It is a very personal and thus subjective matter of course, but let me share with you the best watch bracelets in my book.
Top 10 Best Watch Bracelets
1. Rolex President
The King, euh, President, of all bracelets as far as I am concerned. Only available in precious metals like white gold, yellow gold, red (Everose) gold and platinum. It consists of three semi-circular links per row and a concealed clasp (with a Rolex crown). A super comfortable bracelet, elegant looking and masculine at the same time. It was specifically designed for the Day-Date models (introduced in 1956). Since a couple of US presidents wore the Rolex Day-Date (on President bracelet), the entire watch was nicked ‘Rolex President’ and for some, it still is the Rolex President. I keep it at Day-Date with a President bracelet, as it was also available with another bracelet (Super-Oyster). The President is leading the best watch bracelets overview.
2. Rolex Jubilee
There is no single doubt in my mind that this is one of the best watch bracelets in the world. It combines looks and comfort and the most recent models have Rolex’ Easylink system to slightly adjust the clasp. Former models just had a couple of holes in the clasp, that you could resize yourself using a toothpick. Also worked fine. But the Easylink system is just genius. The Jubilee bracelet was introduced in 1945, for the lauch of the Rolex Datejust in that year. Meanwhile, the Jubilee bracelet also has been used for other Rolex models. This bracelet is like silk on your wrist.
3. Rolex Oyster
This Rolex bracelet even goes further back in time, and find its roots in the 1930s. It is a very easy to wear bracelet, very comfortable and it doesn’t draw much attention. Three brushed links (in most cases) and a adjustable clasp (Easylink system) so you can shorten or extend the bracelet a bit, depending on the weather. This is probably also one of the most copied bracelet designs in the world. The Jubilee bracelet is more supple than the Oyster, but the latter is perhaps more versatile.
4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
One of the most exciting bracelets to own and wear is one of the Royal Oak watches. I would even go a bit further and say that part of the fun in wearing a Royal Oak is the bracelet. It is well-made, beautifully finished, and very comfortable. When you look at the bracelet for the first time, you might think that it is a bit stiff and sharp. But that isn’t the case, it is a well-designed and engineered bracelet, with a stunning appearance. The brushed surfaces combined with the polished facets are beautiful. The clasp consists of the initials of this manufacture.
5. Patek Philippe Nautilus
A bit more refined and smoother than the Royal Oak bracelet, but less outspoken. The double clasp with safety lock is easy to use. The larger parts of the links are brushed while the center parts are polished. People who can’t stand scratches should back away from it or live with the fact that it will get marks on there. The watch head and bracelet are integrated you could say, but not as nicely as on the Audemars Piguet. This bracelet does look a bit more sophisticated that AP’s one though. A matter of taste really. There is little to criticize on this level of watchmaking.
6. Ebel Wave
I kid you not, I had to check whether this brand was still alive and active. Awkward. It seems they are now only producing ladies watches. However, back in the day, this was a cool brand in my opinion. I wonder how they could have messed it up so badly. Anyway, their Ebel Chronograph watches with El Primero movement were awesome. Even Don Johnson sported one in Miami Vice. The bracelets on the Ebel Wave model were something else, perhaps still are. The flat stainless steel bracelet with the wave pattern did not only look good, it was very comfortable as well. The downside used to be how it was attached to the case, with two screws from below.
Not entirely fair, as I am talking generic mesh bracelets here. But the good thing is, you can find them basically anywhere in different sizes, so you can add them to your watch. The mesh is so smooth and supple, that there no real reason not to own one of these bracelets. Besides, a couple of brands use these mesh bracelets (branded of course), like IWC, Omega, Breitling, Eterna but also lower-end brands like Skagen. The people at StrapCode for example, also sell a wide variety of them. Also Watch Gecko has a couple.
8. Cartier Santos
The Cartier Santos with bracelet I am talking about was introduced in 1978. It was the first true all stainless steel watch for Cartier. All Santos Dumont models were only in gold or platinum. The bracelet underwent some changes through the years, but only on the inside of the bracelet. The typical screws remained. Then, Cartier introduced the Santos Galbée. A similar design, but a slightly bend case and slightly domed links in the bracelet. In 2005, the Galbée XL was introduced, with similar design, but bigger. This was the last execution of the Santos. It is now discontinued, only the Santos 100 is still available, but without bracelet. Because the bracelet is so typical, with its screws, I love it. Where I lived as a kid, there was this local diner, and the owners had ‘everything’ Cartier. Including Santos watches, with these bracelets. Love them.
9. Breitling Rouleaux
I believe it is out of production since a while, but if you’ve ever watched the Seinfeld show. You know it. According to Breitling Source, it was also named ‘Bullet’ bracelet. It can still be seen once in a while on an older Chronomat you’ll come across. It was used on the Windrider series by Breitling, of which the Chronomat was just a model. Now, the Chronomat is a collection of its own. It just looks very camp, but very comfortable as well.
10. Omega Seamaster Pro
The last one in my best watch bracelets overview, but certainly not a bad one. You either love them or you hate them, the Seamaster ‘Bond’ bracelets. Admitted, they look very 1990s with their array of links, but they are very sturdy and comfortable. They are also a bit more outspoken than the Speedmaster (style) bracelet. A little diving extension is there to wear it over your neoprene suit. Micro-adjustment is not possible though. A heavy bracelet I think, but also available for the titanium models. There was also a version that consisted of Titanium, red gold and tantalum.
Your Best Watch Bracelets?
These best watch bracelets are, of course, my own favorites that I’ve tried and experienced over the last two decades or so. You might have a completely different opinion of course. Funny thing is, that Rolex is taking 3 positions in my Top 10 best watch bracelets overview. Although I love and collect the Speedmaster watches myself, I’ve never been a fan of their bracelets. I think the older models are at least better than the current one(s). The mesh bracelets are a bit generically mentioned in my article, but I think you catch my drift. They are just very comfortable, although I am not always a fan of their appearance. It heavily depends on the type of watch you put them on.
It would be very interesting to learn about your favorite steel bracelets, so if you have any, please list them below in the (Disqus) comments.
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