We have a rather special Sunday Morning Showdown for you today. For once, we aren’t pitting two watches against each other. This time, it is up to two bracelet styles to fight it out. These are not just any two bracelet styles, mind you, but two of the most iconic ones to ever affix watches to wrists. This is the battle of the bracelets — Oyster versus Jubilee!

Thomas will defend the ever-handsome Oyster bracelet, while Mike will fight for the mighty Jubilee. In the end, though, it is up to you to pick a winner. Cast your votes, and share your motivations in the comments!

Last week’s showdown

Before we get into all of that, let’s have a look at last week’s Sunday Morning Showdown. Jorg and RJ pitted the Grand Seiko SBGW305 against the King Seiko SJE089. You might call that a little Sunday Morning Fratricide, which saw the Grand Seiko win with a whopping 70% of the votes.

It seems that many thought the accuracy and elegance of the GS reigned supreme over the KS. These were the two most common motivations for voting for the Grand Seiko SBGW305 we found in the comments section. The King Seiko line does seem to disappoint enthusiasts with its unregulated calibers at the price.

Perhaps the fact that these two watches aren’t direct competitors says it all. We are seeing a clearly stepped positioning of these two brands/lines under the Seiko umbrella. King Seiko is allowed to offer much of the high-quality finishing but not the mechanical refinement of its big brother. And this seems to put Grand Seiko a step above in your view, as illustrated by the 70% vote.

Oyster versus Jubilee

Let’s get into today’s battle. As mentioned, it’s not about watches today but bracelets instead. We often see heated debates about Oyster versus Jubilee bracelets on watches that offer the choice. The Rolex GMT-Master II is a prime example.

This battle isn’t necessarily limited to Rolex, though. These two bracelet styles have become archetypes and spread throughout the watch world. The big question is: which do you prefer and why? Let’s hear out Thomas and Mike’s arguments for both and see where the vote lands.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date on Oyster bracelet

Image: Bulang & Sons

Thomas: The Oyster bracelet

I have to admit I could have defended either side today. I own examples of both bracelet styles, and I wear both with great joy. Still, all things considered, I think the Oyster should win this battle. Let me try to make a case and get you to sway my way.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual

At the heart of it, I feel the Oyster is the more versatile bracelet. It is so simple and bland — in a positive sense — that it works on almost any watch under any circumstance. The Jubilee, on the other hand, is a bit more specific. It looks fantastic on certain watches but a little overpowering, too formal, and overly jewelry-esque on others. It can be a bit too intricate for some watches as well. Less is more.

I also think the Jubilee is a bit more of a vintage-looking bracelet. Consequently, it tends to make any watch a little more classical, which isn’t always appropriate. By contrast, the Oyster bracelet is completely timeless. It has looked fresh and modern for decade after decade. Put an Oyster-style bracelet on a modern diver, and it looks modern. Put a Jubilee-style bracelet on the same watch, and it instantly looks like a ’60s throwback. This can be exactly what the doctor ordered at times, but it makes the Oyster more universal.

The Oyster shows that simpler can be better

Looking at it from a design perspective, the Oyster bracelet is about as simple as can be. If you, as a designer, were staring at a blank piece of paper, briefed to design a steel alternative to a watch strap, the Oyster is about the simplest possible solution you could come up with. This makes it a supremely elegant design.

Pre-owned Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster bracelet

Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 — Image: Bulang & Sons

What I mean is that it uses minimal means to maximum effect. It is simple to manufacture, comfortable, strong, and handsome. Only once you start to wonder, “How do we embellish this a bit more?” do you end up with additional center links and the more complicated rounded shapes of the Jubilee. This is subjective, but I have a weak spot for design efficiency and the simplest possible solution. Such designs often age better because they are less infused with temporal aesthetics.

I guess history proves my point in a way, with the Oyster predating the Jubilee. In fact, it is one of the oldest designs for a watch bracelet and is still going strong in 2024. When in doubt, grab an Oyster, and you cannot go wrong. Admittedly, grabbing a Jubilee under the right circumstances can seriously lift your watch game. I am sure Mike will make a great case for it next. Take it away, Mike!

Rolex Datejust 1600 Jubilee bracelet

Mike: The Jubilee bracelet

Ugh, this is a tough Sunday Morning Showdown indeed! Like Thomas, I’m a super fan of Oyster and Jubilee bracelets. In fact, I consider them both to be at the acme of bracelet designs. When considering either model, the finishing, appropriate thickness, articulation, and clasp size add up to a winning product. When a brand like Rolex can lay claim to the two best bracelet designs of all time, it’s impressive and makes one wonder why other marques struggle to create just one decent bracelet! Still, I had to choose one bracelet, and I went with the Jubilee because I’ve been wearing them more lately. Let’s see why.

Image: The Watch Club

New Jubilee bracelets have evolved better than the Oyster, but…

The first advantage I give to the Jubilee over the mighty Oyster is that it has evolved better than its sportier sibling. Don’t get me wrong; a modern Oyster is a great bracelet, but I’ve never taken a shine to solid end links or the bulkier clasps that replaced the endearing stamped versions. They’re comfy but are dangerously close to joining the ranks of other heavy, bulky bracelets from other brands. The Jubilee, however, has kept its silky smooth character despite its pairing with a modern clasp and heavier end links. That said, a vintage Jubilee is on another plane.

Rolex GMT Master 16753

…the vintage models are sublime

If you’ve never tried on a vintage Jubilee bracelet, then it’s an experience worth savoring. That sounds a bit over the top, but the solid-link 62510H and the earlier folded-link 6251H are the most comfortable bracelets ever created. The quality of either version is beyond reproach, and I enjoy taking in the precision from the back side of the links. The comfort comes from the high level of articulation within the links, which brings me to another point.

Rolex Datejust 1601 Lavender 12

The Jubilee is peak beads-of-rice

Many feel that the Jubilee is too formal or only belongs with dressier watches. Sure, it works well with Rolex Datejust or Date, but there are reasons why the odd man out will throw one on a Submariner. The comfort level is the primary one, but I also think that the Jubilee is the ultimate form of the beads-of-rice bracelet. It’s stronger, just as comfortable, and works just as well in the water if a dive extension or safety clasp is not required. I’ve never put a Jubilee on a Submariner or Daytona, but I can see why some do. For a GMT-Master, though, I am 100% Team Jubilee.

Works better for smaller wrists and with dangle

I mentioned that I’ve been wearing more Jubilee bracelets lately, and it’s largely because I’m tending toward smaller watches. A Jubilee feels better on a smaller watch than an Oyster and works better with a smaller wrist. Here again, the articulation plays in my favor, whereas an Oyster may not bend in all the right places. Then, there’s the dangle. I don’t recommend wearing a loose bracelet because, apparently, it adds more wear and can lead to stretch. Still, I like to wear my watches a bit loose in the heat or if I am heading out for a salty dinner. The Jubilee shines, literally and figuratively, with a looser look.

Cast your vote: Oyster or Jubilee bracelet

Look, there’s no wrong answer in the battle between the Oyster and the Jubilee. If you had asked me several years ago, I wouldn’t have given the Jubilee a second thought. Now, though, I give the Jubilee a slight edge. Still, I see applications for which one is supremely better than the other. If comfort is king, though, the Jubilee reigns supreme. Which bracelet will you pick? Vote below, and let us know your reasoning. Remember, new and vintage are on the table along with all kinds of metals. Enjoy the difficult task of choosing!

The Battle of the Bracelets — Oyster vs. Jubilee