Straps and bracelets

Ball Engineer Master II Pilot GMT on leather strap and on bracelet.

Have you ever heard the joke about the guy who buys a Ferrari one piece at a time? He can only afford a steering wheel so he just buys himself a piece of the car as he can afford them. You can do the same thing with watches!

All joking aside, the “wheels” of a timepiece are like the strap or the bracelet. One must not underestimate the importance of the strap or bracelet when choosing a watch to wear. The strap really gives the watch a personality and sets the tone. The strap can totally change the look and feel of a watch and sometimes just changing the strap on your watch can feel like getting a whole new piece. Let’s discuss further.

The two-tone bracelet of the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial

I actually organise my entire collection around strap selections. Typically, you match your shoes to your belt and to your watch strap. I would rarely wear brown shoes with a black watch strap. With brown shoes, I would wear a stainless steel bracelet (which complements anything), a brown strap or a blue strap if my suit is blue. With black shoes, I will choose a watch on a black strap or a bracelet. Black rubber is a wild card because it’s really sporty and can break the rules. But generally, I pick the strap to complement the outfit. So I like to have different types of straps in my collection at all times. If I REALLY feel like wearing a particular watch, I will find an outfit the compliments it and the strap colour is a driving factor. So I pay a lot of attention to straps.

TimeCaptain’s PAM00540 on a custom made strap.

Panerai is brilliant in selling watches with easy-to-change straps and including alternate straps. As most of you know, strap-swapping and strap-collecting is an entire sub-culture among Paneristi. But other brands have caught on. Check out the accessories on the Linde Werdelin website or the new quick-change system on many Hublot models. I know lots of guys who buy a watch and immediately order an alternate strap for when they get bored of the original strap. A mere change of a strap can add an entirely new feeling to your collection.

Unfortunately, straps don’t come cheap. A Montblanc Timewalker strap can set you back 450 bucks. A new Panerai strap can easily cost 400 bucks and I’ve seen some over 600 smackers. That’s serious dough. In the interest of economy and originality, many guys go to custom strap makers for bespoke creations. We have reviewed a few on WatchPaper. But even an after-market strap cost can cost a couple hundred dollars. Of course, it’s cheaper to spend $200-600 every couple of years on a new strap than to buy a new watch each time!

Bracelet and clasp of the Breitling SuperOcean

If you’re going to wear one watch all the time, you should go with a steel bracelet. It can get wet. It looks good with anything. It can dress up or down. And you never need to change it because it never really wears out. The scratches can be polished off when it gets serviced and it can look like new again. Bracelets certainly age- look at some pictures of old Rolex. The bracelets get sort of stretched as the pins and bars bend over time and this doesn’t look nice. But a steel bracelet is basically good for life. As you probably know by now, I cannot wear one watch all the time…

Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM00359 on a Greg Stevens Design strap.

I have a couple of watches on bracelets, others on different leather straps, a “summer strap” on a Seiko and my Linde Werdelin is on a supreme rubber strap, which I love having for casual wear as well as certain office days. If you’re starting out and building a collection, try to diversify your straps. I see guys with Rolex collections- a Sub, a BLNR and DSSD… those are nice watches, but they don’t offer any different looks. For a while, I had two Panerai Luminor and I would always change their straps at the same time so that one was always brown and one was always black or even rubber. That way, I could dress in any suit in the morning and grab a Panerai that would match it. Now, is that living or what?

Linde Werdelin HB III BD

Linde Werdelin HB III BD

Lately, I have been nuts about my Linde Werdelin and, despite its rubber diving strap, I have been sporting it at the office. These days, you can get away with that sort of thing. The watch was not made for an office environment, but I can pull it off. And when I need to dress more conservatively, I go with a classic piece on leather. The fun part is having the choice. It’s all about that scene in Iron Man 2….you know, the scene that ruined my life! In case you are wondering, I am writing this while wearing my Linde Werdelin on rubber. I think this weekend’s casual activities will require this sporty-on-rubber combo each day!

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ultra Slim

Remember that straps are often are often easy to change, so you should focus on watches you like and change straps afterwards if need be. But I still think that you need to have a variety of straps and bracelets in your watch box. This is how you cover all of your different outfit options. And when budgets are small and you need a treat, you just add a new strap to an existing piece. Is there a particular strap option missing from your collection? You need to remedy this quickly. Enjoy. As always, the fun is in the search…

Yours truly,


TimeCaptain is a self-confessed timepiece junkie.  He spends nearly all of his spare time buying,  selling,  trading,  researching, admiring and trying different timepieces. He's also a fanatic Formula 1 fan, having followed every single Grand Prix since 1991.  He switches to NFL football in the fall and roots for the Green Bay Packers. A child of the 1980's, TimeCaptain is mad about 80's music,  TV, cinema and pop culture.  Another interest of TimeCaptain is space exploration and the study of distant planets and galaxies. When asked about his favorite watch,  TimeCaptain remembers Enzo Ferrari's answer as to his favorite car- "the one I haven't built yet."