Hands-On With The New Forstner Bullet Bracelet For The Omega Speedmaster Professional
Aftermarket bracelets — whether you absolutely love them or your feelings are mixed, they are certainly here to stay. Personally, I enjoy the option of having an affordable way to change the look and feel of a watch without always relying on straps. Today, I’m checking out the Forstner Bullet Bracelet, the brand’s latest offering. It is inspired by a 1960s OEM bracelet manufactured by Forstner’s former owner Jacoby Bender for the Bulova Accutron Astronaut. It is also rather different from what you might have imagined if you had Breitling’s “bullet” bracelets in mind. Cast that aside, and picture something closer to Omega’s 1479 bracelet but with a rounder profile. The result is not dissimilar to the latest incarnation of the Speedy Pro’s brilliant bracelet.
The new Forstner Bullet Bracelet is available with end links suitable for Omega’s Speedmaster Professional and Seamaster 300M models. Forstner also offers a version with end links for Tudor Black Bay and, finally, a universal straight-end-link version. Within the range, you also have options for the current 3861 Speedmaster and the previous 1861 models. For the Tudors, you have both a 20mm and 22mm version. And finally, for the Seamasters, the bracelet is available for both current and pre-2018 models. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to check out both the straight-end-link version and the one for the Omega Speedmaster. How does it look on the Speedy as well as other watches? And, more importantly, how good is it on the wrist? Let’s take a closer look.
The Forstner Bullet Bracelet
The first thing to say about the Forstner Bullet Bracelet is that there are two styles. The straight-ended model has a more pronounced chamfer on the edges than the versions with shaped end links. The latter has a more traditional profile with flatter edges on its links. Another difference is that the straight-end version’s end links are fixed to the bracelet, whereas all other versions have a solid female end link that is held in place by the spring bar only. Other than that, when it comes to weight, finishing, and build quality, both options are virtually identical. That applies to the clasp as well. This is a feature worth noting as the bigger milled clasp is a relatively recent upgrade to Forstner’s product line. With a two-button release system, it’s snappy and feels solid.
Inside the nicely designed box, signed with the Forstner logo and equipped with a magnetic lid, you’ll find a number of things, including a thank-you note. The bracelets are delivered with a set of spring bars as well as a couple of spare links and a screwdriver to make any necessary adjustments. The links are not fixed in place with Loctite and are, therefore, easy enough to remove. Adding a small dab of a weak version of Loctite on the sized bracelet would not be a bad idea. Adjusting the bracelet to fit my wrist required me to remove two links from either side. A nice feature of the Bullet Bracelet is that the links are pretty small, so you can size with greater accuracy than on my Speedy’s original bracelet. The clasp also has six micro-adjustment positions, allowing for even more precise sizing.
The Forstner Bullet Bracelet on my Omega Speedmaster Professional
What would it be like wearing my Speedmaster on the Forstner Bullet Bracelet? Before I could find out, I had to do away with the leather strap that I’d been using previously. There’s a cyclical nature to the way in which I like to wear my watches, and sooner or later, after enough NATO and leather straps, I feel the need for steel. The only difference was that this time, instead of going back to my Speedy’s original bracelet or the 1479 bracelet that RJ kindly gifted me, the Forstner was at the top of the list. Installing the bracelet was easy enough. The tolerances are tight, but they don’t make the process fiddly or difficult. The links articulate nicely, so you’ll experience comfort on the wrist, and off the wrist, the watch will sit flat.
The finishing on the bracelet is pleasant, and though it doesn’t exactly measure up to the high quality of the latest Swiss offering from Omega, it’s definitely far better than any other aftermarket offering I’ve experienced. On the outside, brushed and polished elements live side by side. Flip the bracelet over, however, and all five links are satin-brushed. The “JB” logo on the clasp is deeply engraved, yet its edges are smooth. In general, you’ll find no overly sharp edges on the bracelet. Is it a bit of a hair-puller? Not overly so. But as with any bracelet with small links, you’ll experience a pinch from time to time. One final thing to note is that the end links don’t have “wings” and feature just a thin lip on the underside to ensure stability against the case without marking up the back of your lugs.
The Forstner Bullet Bracelet on Gerard’s Breitling Chronospace
As good as the Speedmaster option is, this is where the Forstner Bullet Bracelet truly shines. After looking through my own collection for a match, Gerard suggested that we try his Breitling Chronospace from the ’90s. And talk about a perfect pairing! The straight ends perfectly suit the squared-off lug space on this Breitling, and the contrast provided by the brushed and polished finishes complements the case perfectly. This contrast is slightly more pronounced on this version of the bracelet due to the aforementioned chamfering of its sides.
The sides of the bracelet flare out towards the bottom (as they did in the original Jacoby Bender bracelet), exposing their polished finish. This also makes the bracelet appear to have a more pronounced taper, which is not the case. Both bracelets taper to 16mm just before the clasp.
This leads us to the only thing we found as a weakness of the bracelet, which is the contrast between the slim tapered links and the chunky clasp. It’s not a problem concerning comfort or ergonomics, but aesthetically speaking, it could potentially be smoothed over somewhat. That said, while wearing the bracelet, you’ll likely not even notice or be bothered by this. In fact, you’ll probably be grateful to have a solid milled system and not a flimsy pressed clasp.
One last thing to note, which applies to both bracelets, is the slightly flat-topped polished links. This is not as noticeable on the polished side, but on the underside, where all links are brushed, you do notice this shape. It adds somewhat to the bracelet’s presence on the wrist, giving those polished links different surface angles to reflect, and visually, it’s rather pleasant.
Overall, these bracelets are a rather impressive offering from Forstner. As the brand expands its already-impressive range, having affordable options like these, which both look and feel great, is a big plus. Not everyone will be willing or able to spend over €500 on a vintage bracelet for their Speedmaster. Also, OEM options are rather limited both for the Seamaster 300M and Tudor Black Bay lines. But Forstner continues to offer high-quality products, allowing collectors to enjoy not just different straps but also different stainless steel bracelets on their watches. At US$185 (roughly €175) for the shaped-end-link options and $155 (or €145) for the straight-end-link bracelet, you get a fantastic product that won’t disappoint.
For more details on the Forstner Bullet Bracelet, as well as the brand’s extended range, please visit the Forstner Bands website.
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