Welcome to Strap Check, a column 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 Strap Check. Are you in a watch rut? Change your strap, and the rest will follow.

In contrast to my colleague Tomas, I’ve always been a bracelet guy. I bought my first Seiko SNP003 on a bracelet and wore it day-in-day-out for about 15 years. I like how a steel bracelet extends the look of the watch around your entire wrist. It’s easy to put on in the morning, it can take a beating, and it shows you exactly where you’ve been with it. And at the same time, it also gives watches a more sporty look, whereas the leather alternative often makes them feel too dressy to me. So what do you do when you’re a bracelet guy and the watch you’ve bought doesn’t come on a bracelet? Or even worse, when there isn’t even a proprietary bracelet option available? That’s when I found the Bonklip as a very welcome alternative!

All that jazz

When Tomas reviewed his vintage Bonklip, he asked whether it could become your new leather option. And well, for me, it definitely has! My watch collection started out with the Oris Art Blakey. It’s a watch from the Oris Artelier line, certainly the more dressy department within the Oris portfolio. The watch also came on a very smooth brown leather strap with a folding clasp. It’s a good combination and the strap is of good quality, but it makes the watch feel even more dressy than it already is. And as it’s also a watch from Oris’s jazz-themed collection, I wanted to jazz it up even more.

I started out with various leather options, and while they looked good, they couldn’t convince me. And that’s when I found the Bonklip option. I ordered the one from Serica/Joseph Bonnie (I think that at that time, the one from Forstner wasn’t available yet, or I simply didn’t know it was out there). It’s the same one the Serica 4512 field watch comes on, and just like Jorg said in his review of that watch, the bracelet adds a lot of style! In my case, it also did so with the Art Blakey. It definitely gave it some jazz and even made that very dressy watch look a bit more like a field watch. So I completely agree with how Rob summed it up in his review of the Forstner Klip: “it adds a stunning effect on a watch’s character.”

Bonklip bracelet

I also feel the Bonklip matches very well with the steel clams Oris used to resemble the bass drum on the dial. And even though the whole watch case is polished, I don’t mind the Bonklip being almost all brushed. Maybe it’s because of the polished rings holding everything together. But I think it’s more because it actually gives the watch a more rugged feel. It’s also because the Bonklip doesn’t taper and is 19mm all around. Oh, and did I already mention its comfort? 

The Bonklip is oh so comfortable, especially in summer

The Art Blakey is already a very comfortable watch to wear because of its reasonable dimensions and rounded shape. But with the Bonklip, it hugs my wrist even more! Leather can be quite stiff sometimes, especially when you start out with a brand-new strap. Not the Bonklip; it’s flexible straight out of the box. And it’s true that it can feel a bit wonky and wobbly, or dingly and dangly at first. But once it’s on your wrist, it fits like a glove and doesn’t make any noise at all. 

You can even adjust it at any moment of the day without having to use any tool whatsoever. Just release the fastener, adjust the size, and clip it back on. Combine that with the space there is between the links and you’ve got yourself the perfect summer bracelet — not too sweaty, adjustable for expanding wrists, and light as a feather. That’s also why it has found its way to another watch within the collection, the 38mm Blancpain Bathyscaphe.

Vintage allure

The 43mm version of the Bathyscaphe comes with its proprietary bracelet, but the 38mm version does not. Of course, being a bracelet guy, that annoyed me a bit when I was looking to buy the watch. I also don’t really like black straps, so I also wasn’t really a fan of the sailcloth it came with. But hey, a strap is easily changed, so this wasn’t really a reason not to get it. When it arrived, I immediately tried out all the different straps I had, but the one combination I didn’t think of upfront was actually the best one. And most importantly, it also solved the problem of not having a steel bracelet for it! 

Although the Bathyscaphe is a fairly modern watch, it is of course very much vintage-inspired. The Bonklip takes that vintage vibe just a bit further, and I love it. The two together are definitely my favorite summer combo to wear — a rather small, thin, and beautiful diver on a very light, comfortable, and stunning Bonklip.

Mind the gap

Alright, alright, isn’t there anything to complain about then? Well, not that much actually, but I can name a few things. I’m certainly not a fan of straight end-links. But the lugs on both of these watches are quite short (both watches are 38mm wide and measure 44mm from lug to lug), which means there isn’t a massive gap between the case and the end-links. So it doesn’t really bother me if I’m honest. 

Bonklip bracelet

But it did when I tried it on some of the bigger watches in my collection, for example, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight and the Seiko SPB143. It didn’t work so well, and that’s also because the combination of the bigger cases with the slim Bonklip looks a bit off. The weight of those bigger cases also isn’t very comfortable with the very light bracelet. So if you were just thinking to get one for one of your bigger watches, beware!

Then there’s the small clasp, which opens and closes with a satisfying click. I’ve read many complaints about it opening when you don’t want it to. It’s also something people expect to happen when they first see and use the mechanism themselves. To me, this hasn’t been an issue at all. OK, it has sometimes opened when putting on or taking off a jacket, for example. But when that happens the watch won’t fall off, because it’s still looped around your wrist. And honestly, this has happened to me two or three times in the almost two years since I got it.

Bonklip bracelet

Final thoughts on the Bonklip bracelet

When it comes to the Bonklip, I really think you either love it or hate it. Some already start making faces when they see one from a distance. Others can’t get enough of the comfort and style it adds to their watches. I’m definitely part of that second group. I’ve even considered getting a second one so I don’t have to constantly swap it from the Oris Art Blakey to the Blancpain Bathyscaphe.

What about you? Are you a fan of the Bonklip, or are you part of the other group, and why? And if you’re a fan, has your experience been as good as mine? I’d be happy to hear your feedback in the comments.

Oh, and if you’d like to see more wrist shots of the Bonklip on the Art Blakey and the Bathyscaphe, head over to my Instagram @fliptheparrot!