Strap Check: Blue Suede Shoes For An 18K Rolex 1625 Turn-O-Graph
Welcome to Strap Check, a column here on Fratello where our editors showcase their favorite watch/strap combinations. We all know the feeling. When you’ve been wearing a watch for weeks on the same strap, there comes a time when the excitement starts to fade a little bit. Maybe that’s the time when you start looking. But looking for what? A brand new watch? Sometimes the answer lies not in the watch, but the strap on which you wear it! From the classic to the unique. From cheap NATOs to bespoke leather and special bracelets. This is where we get excited about perfect combinations that make you feel like you’ve got a brand new watch on your wrist. So tune in every week for a new combination. Are you in a watch rut? Change your strap, and the rest will follow.
I’ve owned my vintage Rolex 1625 Turn-O-Graph for nearly four years now, and to this day, it occupies a weird little corner of my collection. Rolex and weird? Well, the thing is that one doesn’t see too many Turn-O-Graphs anywhere. This oddball subset of the Datejust lived and still lives in this hybrid world between sport and dress. The watch has a familiar look but adds a truly unique all-gold rotating bezel. The result is a watch with a lot of metal! In my case, the champagne dial only adds to the monochrome look, so the watch just begs for some sort of a “shakeup” color-wise. So today, I’m pairing it with a light blue suede strap from G.L.C. of Rome. The result brings an entirely new look to this lovely watch.
When an all-gold Rolex 1625 comes on a strap
My Rolex 1625 didn’t come with a bracelet and that’s not entirely uncommon for these or any period Datejust models. Whether they originally came on a bracelet or shipped without, it’s common to see old gold Rolex watches on straps. Now, a normal gold Datejust looks good on something like a black or brown reptile strap to help up the dressy ante. But this Turn-O-Graph? Not so much, in my opinion. That loud bezel can dress up, but it wants to come out and play even if only a little bit.
When I bought this Rolex 1625, it was delivered to me on a really lovely dark brown ostrich strap made by one of our favorite strap makers, G.L.C. of Rome. The strap was unworn and looked fantastic at first glance. I wore it this way for the first three years, but something always left me a little wanting for a change. The watch was muted and seemed to just die either on my wrist or in photos. I blame that on the fact that brown and gold sit within the same tonal “family tree.” What to do?
It was time for a makeover
I started cruising Instagram and looking up older 18K Rolex models. Unsurprisingly, most models did favor brown straps in a variety of materials. Thankfully I kept looking because I stumbled upon an account that I actually follow — @cfeuermann — and this collector has a stunning array of watches. He also seems to live in my home area of South Florida, so his choice of brighter straps makes a lot of sense! In any case, I saw loads of older Rolex models on some truly fun and colorful straps and that was all the affirmation I needed to try something very different on my Rolex 1625.
The account I mentioned features a lot of Saffiano leather. I like that, but for whatever reason, I’ve been into suede lately. I bumbled around on the web, read many of Balazs’s watch strap reviews, and even consulted with Balazs himself. In the end, all discussions led right back to a familiar place for my Rolex 1625 — G.L.C. The brand offers a dizzying array of straps in all sorts of materials, colors, and sizes. Their prices are fair, the straps are made in Italy, and they ship quickly.
G.L.C. came through with a real hingucker
After spending some time on the G.L.C. site, I came upon the “Vintage M5 Suede Light Blue Strap White Thread” for the fair price of €65. I decided to give it a shot, and within a few days, it arrived (along with some other really cool colors for a few other watches). I hadn’t been this excited to pair a strap to a watch in a long time, but after swapping the gold Rolex buckle and putting it between the lugs, there it was — perfection! My Rolex 1625 was finally ready to shine! This watch, as the Germans might say, is now a real hingucker, or eye-catcher.
Some final thoughts on this “sueded” Rolex 1625
My Rolex 1625 on its light blue strap probably doesn’t work for all seasons, especially in places that become dark and gloomy for roughly half the year. That’s OK, though, because this isn’t a daily watch, and obviously, I can always add a darker strap. Also, suede can be a funny material because it picks up dirt more easily than some other mediums. Something like a rubber eraser seems to do the trick when used lightly. Most importantly, though, this Strap Check reminds me of something important. I bought a lovely watch in great condition that had great potential. For the first three years, though, it left me cold. I wasn’t in danger of selling it because that’s not me, but I know a lot of people who would have considered doing so. Some relatively inexpensive experimentation brought an end to my discontent and gave credence to the modified adage that, yes, sometimes it is the shoes that make the watch.