Over the past few years, Forstner has rapidly become the go-to name for aftermarket watch bracelets. The brand has become so well established that it’s now rolling out third generations of some of its classic offerings. An update to its two former 7-Row predecessors, the new Forstner 9-Row Beads of Rice (BoR) stainless steel bracelet shows us how small changes can go a long way.

The minute I got my hands on the bracelet, I knew exactly the watch I would use to test it. You see, these bracelets are fitted with straight end links. This means they should fit on just about any watch with enough space between the lugs and where the spring bar has enough clearance from the case. On a traditionally shaped watch, they’ll fit well but leave a gap between the case and the end link. But on my Cartier Tank Solo, this bracelet fills the gap beautifully. Not only that, but there’s something incredibly charming about a small, classic watch on a super flowy, comfortable bracelet. As soon as it was on my wrist, I was one pair of suede loafers and a linen shirt away from matching the elegant effortlessness of the combination.

Forstner 9-Row Beads Of Rice Stainless Steel Watch Bracelet Cartier Tank

So, what’s new?

Before I tell you about my experience wearing the Forstner 9-Row Beads of Rice bracelet, I want to focus on what the brand has updated. The 9-Row bracelet isn’t a replacement for the previous 7-Row options. However, it does incorporate some welcome upgrades. The first is that, in its 20mm configuration, there’s a smaller step between the end link and the bracelet itself.

Forstner 9-Row Beads Of Rice Stainless Steel Watch Bracelet

The previous 7-Row model was likely designed with smaller watches in mind. This is reflected by the range of sizes in which it was available (in 1mm increments from 16 to 20). This meant that the bracelet was about 16mm wide. Fitted with a 20mm end link, it created almost a “T” shape. While that is a great look on vintage pieces, it is less versatile due to its particular aesthetic.

The new bracelet is wider at 18mm. Additionally, it has an extra row on either side, creating a more mesh-like appearance and excellent flow and articulation. This translates to comfort and makes the bracelet more versatile and elegant. Thanks to four brushed rows of links, however, it maintains a sporty edge without becoming overly blingy.

As with any Forstner bracelet, you receive everything you need to start enjoying this one straight away — plenty of links (I had to take out six to fit my 16.7cm wrist), a flat-head screwdriver to size the bracelet, and a pair of spring bars.

Forstner 9-Row Beads Of Rice Stainless Steel Watch Bracelet Cartier Tank Longines

The Forstner 9-Row Beads of Rice Stainless Steel Watch Bracelet

I mentioned that for the sake of testing the Forstner 9-Row Beads of Rice bracelet, I went with my Cartier Tank Solo. But I was not the only one to test the bracelet. Our shop manager Laurits also fitted his vintage Longines watch with one. These combinations proved that the bracelet works for vintage and modern watches. And the fact that neither Laurits nor I have worn said watches on anything else since is a testament to the comfort and quality of the bracelet.

Forstner 9-Row Beads Of Rice Stainless Steel Watch Bracelet Cartier Tank

You’ll notice a slight gap between the Tank’s lugs and the end links of the Forstner bracelet. This is due to the 20.5mm lug spacing on the watch. That said, you won’t have difficulty finding one that fits yours as the 9-Row BoR bracelet is available in 1mm increments from 18 to 22.

In my experience, the only slight niggle (on paper) would be the folded clasp. However, I think it’s not something that Forstner put there without good reason. You see, due to the small links, the bracelet is relatively light. A heavy, milled clasp would have likely thrown it entirely off balance, making it less comfortable. It also adds to the vintage feel of this bracelet, which is best worn slightly loose and on a vintage watch or any modern piece that toes the line between dressy and sporty.

I could imagine putting my Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic on this bracelet. But the Baltic MR01 or the Merci Instruments LMM-01 would also suit it well. Heck, even my Speedmaster would if I were feeling bold. You really can’t go wrong. Essentially any watch you’d like to give a different look and feel to could suit this latest Forstner offering.

Final thoughts

I mentioned in the opening that Forstner has firmly established itself as the household name for aftermarket bracelets. And it’s products like the latest Forstner 9-Row Beads of Rice bracelet, created with the thoughtfulness and quality that most of us have come to expect from the brand, that help solidify that position. I was always hesitant to invest in aftermarket bracelets. Still, with the vast difference in quality between cheap eBay options and the real deal from Forstner, it’s certainly money well spent. And when you consider the vitality that a new bracelet can breathe into an old favorite (as it did with my Cartier), it’s an absolute no-brainer to give it a go.

If you want to treat one of your watches to the easy-going elegance of the 9-Row Beads of Rice bracelet, it’s available for US$132 (roughly €121) plus shipping on the Forstner website. And if you have one of these bracelets already, let us know how you like it in the comments!

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