Historical Perspectives: The Fascinating (And Totally Geeky) Story Of The Rolex Oyster Bracelet

The basic plan of the Rolex Oyster wristband mixes consummately with the utilitarian lines of the Submariner and the GMT-Master. On the wrist, it wears extraordinary, and the misleadingly straightforward clasp works perfectly. In any case, it would be a slip-up to call the advanced Oyster wristband as far as we might be concerned today a solitary great idea. Its creation was more a constant interaction of gradual upgrades; Rolex calmly ensured that the Oyster arm band kept on being the most utilitarian around, with practically undetectable final details consistently. Accordingly, the arm bands alone offer knowledge into Rolex’s way of life, particularly its fixation on the subtleties that matter. As far as I might be concerned, the religion status delighted in by vintage and current Rolex the same can be followed through the development of these apparently straightforward parts.

Vintage advertisement for Gay Frères, highlighting a wristband that looks a horrendous part like the Oyster.

The history of the Oyster arm band doesn’t need incongruity, since the primary wristbands were indeed neither made by Rolex nor offered as a standard choice in Rolex lists. In the mid 1930s, arm bands were in reality an exorbitant extra, addressing once in a while practically a large portion of the cost of the independent watch (on account of a two-tone Rolex Imperial). The first Rolex arm bands were made by the most prestigious wristband provider around, Gay Frères, better know for later making the wristband of the first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak just as the weird empty connection wristband of the Zenith El Primero. The Bonklip (additionally nicknamed the “Bamboo”) was the most common shape at that point, with the thin equal connections you can see on the actual left of the family picture below. 

Interestingly, numerous providers fabricated a similar kind of arm band at that point, yet Rolex stayed devoted to Gay Frères through the 1930s and 1940s. In a lovely contort, the productive arm band producer that had provided Rolex in any case was really gained by Rolex in 1998, underlining the company’s consistent mission of securing its providers to continually streamline the creation cycle. This mechanical technique bodes well when you arrive at the creation volume of Rolex – and, not a little detail, when you likewise have as huge a money reserve.

A course of events of Oyster arm bands, from the pre-Oysters at left to the cutting edge strong connections at right.

Looking at a similar photograph, you can likewise see the arm band that would fill in as right around a delicate prologue to the Oyster. Following on from the Bonklip, you can see a surprising arm band with twofold focus joins, however a large part of a similar look as the Oyster. 

But those were only the forerunners of the Oyster wristband, which was licensed in February 1947 (patent number 257,185, on the off chance that you were pondering) and first showed up in a Rolex list in 1948. Nonetheless, it was not the first in-house arm band from Rolex – the Jubilee holds this honor, as it was matched with the new Datejust at the dispatch of this notorious line in 1945.

At first, the Oyster wristband was generally proposed for alleged “bubble backs” and chronographs, while ties stayed the significantly more common choice across Rolex’s portfolio. The plan and development of the Oyster arm band was left essentially unaltered for the decade and a half after its presenting, however a momentous expansion was presented in 1952. Up until this date, the Oyster wristband just accompanied straight finishes, yet at long last patent number 303,005 revived the vaunted end joins, which completed the Rolex look as far as we might be concerned today. 

The end joins permit the Oyster to impeccably coordinate into the instance of the specific watch.

One can see the end interface as the missing “connect” in the picture of the complete watch, at long last shutting the hole between the wristband and the case, and taking into account a perfect reconciliation between the two components. It additionally serves a down to earth work (as you’d anticipate from Rolex), diminishing the tension on the spring bars’ edges, as it hold those parts set up and disperses any pressure all the more equally. Obviously, the principal model to be manufacturing plant fitted with end joins was the Rolex GMT-Master reference 6542, dispatched in 1954. This decision underlines the lively nature of the Oyster wristband, which soon prepared the Explorer and the Submariner as well. It stayed the solitary choice accessible for Rolex sport looks for the following 10 years, until the Jubilee got offered with the refreshed Rolex GMT-Master, the reference 1675.

Three ages of Oyster arm bands, with the bolt on top, the collapsed connect the center, and the strong connection on the bottom.

From the mid 1950s on, the Oyster has ceaselessly gone through critical changes, most eminently acquiring mass to build its obstruction, albeit the essential usefulness has remained consistent with the first idea. 

The original is commonly called the “bolt arm band,” due to the noticeable bolts on the external edge that hold together the empty, collapsed joins. Next we get the “collapsed interface arm band,” which shows the heftier connections, which are made by collapsing a piece of metal on itself on different occasions. For those wristbands, the pins are inner and not noticeable on the external edge. The last shape is clearly the thickest, with really strong connections. This is the arrangement you find on current Rolex watches nowadays. 

The bolted joins are impressively slimmer yet additionally considerably more delicate than the cutting edge strong links.

Functionality was continually lord here – the progressions were not made for restorative reasons – and the more compact the wristband connects, the better it can support maltreatment over the long run. One should not fail to remember that an arm band that breaks can bring about a lost or broken watch. It truly shows how basic the obstruction of the wristband is for the simple endurance of a watch, something Rolex has been inflexible about. As an aside, it’s this mentality that discloses why Rolex will in general supplant parts to “redesign” your Rolex with the most recent element accessible when you take it in for administration (a lot to the give up all hope of vintage lovers, for whom complete creativity is the aim).

Each wristband type comes with explicit end joins, coordinating the profile of the case that they would be connected to.

Looking at any Rolex arm band of any age uncovers how Rolex utilizes its fixation on subtleties to help it increase to a particularly tremendous creation volumes (at this moment gauges place the quantity of watches delivered every year somewhere near 1,000,000). Nothing remains to risk, and consequently every age of Oyster arm band accompanied a particular reference number, regularly found on the last connection of the wristband, showing the age that it has a place with as well as the size of the end interfaces that it takes. For example, the reference 7206 is right for a bolted Oyster with 20mm end joins, while exactly the same arm band with 19mm end connections would be assigned as a kind of perspective 7205 (and we should not fail to remember the women’s reference 7204 with 13mm end links). 

The clasp regularly bears the area and date of the arm band’s production.

To make matters considerably more complicated, some little varieties existed in each model, regularly because of a nearby creation – to settle less in assessments, numerous wristbands were delivered in the USA or Mexico, separately bearing “C&I” and “Hecho en Mexico” on the clasp. The underlying bolt wristband likewise offered two sorts of development, one extending joins (eminently the references 6634/6635/6636, again to represent a distinction between end interface sizes). Those immediately demonstrated less tough than the standard fixed-interface arm bands as were eliminated (also the amazing depilatory properties of the former).

The extending joins were a good thought on paper, yet they demonstrated substantially more delicate on the wrist.

The new age with collapsed joins shows up in the last part of the 1960s and bears the references 7834/7835/7836 (and 9315 for the Rolex Submariner, yet more on that variation later), the end joins themselves developing to fit the new wristband and the new cases better. Once more, this particular part bears its own reference number, which permits somebody to ensure the combination of wristband and end joins works appropriately with a given watch. The careful collapsing demonstrated more grounded than the first bolt development however was at last supplanted with the full, strong connections. The new arm bands essentially took a similar reference numbers as their collapsed connect archetypes, however with the option of an extra zero toward the finish of each (78360 for the 20mm Oyster wristband, etc). The strong connection development is the structure factor we know today, either offered with a complete brushed look or with cleaned focus joins on account of the Daytona and the GMT-Master II. 

Obviously, the Oyster arm band has been replicated ordinarily, and to be reasonable its plan couldn’t be totally ascribed to Rolex. However, for as long as 70 years it has stayed the benchmark against which all other sports watch wristband is judged. It very well may be contended that a few plans demonstrated more refined – the captivating wristband of the Royal Oak comes to mind – yet it is elusive a superior capacity driven device watch arm band anyplace. That is to say, if it’s adequate for 007…

The Rolex GMT Master-II, with its supposed Pepsi bezel and an Oyster wristband with the improved clasp.

It would be out of line to stop our drill-down at the connection level, since Rolex didn’t restrict its concentration to simply the opposition of the connections, anyway significant that component was. Close by the developments depicted over, the end joins themselves additionally got thicker. Eventually, we even wound up with full, strong end interfaces as opposed to the collapsed ones from the prior arm bands. This move really began the heavier Rolex Sea-Dweller, the Submariner’s considerably harder cousin. Presently the strong end joins come standard on all Rolex wristbands, made both in valuable metals and in steel, considering the spring bar to be stunningly better kept up in the pivot of the carry openings. Like we didn’t utter a word, is managed without a genuine purpose.

The clasp is clearly endorsed with a couple of Rolex logos.

Another huge development relates to the clasps. While the collapsing of two bended cutting edges and a covering clasp demonstrated however proficient as it seemed to be straightforward, this component was nonetheless powerless to undesirable openings when a solid stun was applied. Clearly this is not exactly ideal on an instrument watch, which is by its inclination intended to encounter mileage in intense conditions (recall the jump watches commissioned for Comex and the  British Army ). So the Submariner and Sea-Dweller were given their own clasp plan in 1969, with an extra getting clasp over the essential collapsing instrument, which additionally shrouds an underlying jumper’s expansion framework . As you could derive, this change produced its own line of Oyster wristbands, the reference 9315/9316 being what might be compared to a 7836 arm band for a Submariner outfitted with a more grounded clasp (later supplanted by the 93150 with full connections). Note that current clasp presently likewise offers an extra miniature change framework (called the “glidelock”), as you would discover in the cutting edge arm band 93250 devoted to the Submariner.

The Tudor Submariner advantages from similar favorable circumstances as its Rolex cousins, getting a certifiable Oyster bracelet.

Far from being an arbitrary one-shot item advancement, the nonstop commitment put into the Oyster arm band over many years truly underscores Rolex’s attention on exceeding all expectations with each and every specialized spec that can improve its watches. One can contend that this advancement at times comes to the detriment of the enchanting little peculiarities that make us love the vintage models, however the outcome isn’t begging to be proven wrong and the watches improve apparatus watches, perpetually. 

You can perceive how the fundamental shape and feel of the Oyster continued as before more than three ages, regardless of totally different constructions.

Looking behind the sheer torrential slide of references appeared in the graph beneath, these wristbands uncover a belittled side of Rolex: the extraordinary minutia of its item plan. The accentuation put on usefulness gradually formed and reshaped the look and feels of the arm bands and watches since the 1950s, and furthermore clarifies why the cutting edge emphasess feel so associated with the first pieces.

A Full Breakdown Of Vintage Oyster Bracelets By Reference

Note: Thanks to the vendor Sheartime for giving those wonderful vintage bracelets.