The Tropic strap instantly became one of the most popular rubber straps for diving and sports watches from the 1960s until now. In case you missed out on what a Tropic is, you can click this link to read about its initial history.
Isofrane 1968 Rubber Straps (Source: gearpatrol.com)
Polyurethane NLD Zulu Diver Strap (Source: gearpatrol.com)
While the Tropic is no longer in production, you can still find modern replication of vintage straps from different manufacturers. In fact, modern Tropic straps retain the same features and design of classic straps which can be easily recognized. Here are a few methods to recognize a Tropic strap.
1) Basket Weave Design
Tropic Strap (Source: ebay.com)
Kouboo Laguna Rattan Basket (Source: amazon.com)
If you see from the top of the strap, you can see basket weave-like pattern on the front side of the strap. It looks like rattan baskets weave that goes criss-cross diagonally.
2) Square Holes Pattern
Square shaped holes (Source: ebay.com)
Another method of recognizing a Tropic strap is the square holes in rows of 3 as seen on the front side. The holes are squarish in shape which was rotated in a 45-degree angle. The holes run from the end of the strap to the lugs. The middle holes are where the buckle sits.
3) Waffle Shape
If you turn to the back, you can see there are diamond or waffle like shape squares corresponding for each hole. This is not only for design purpose, but it is also very functional. Early rubber straps do not provide breathability, which is why they weren’t exactly comfortable.
Waffle-like shape(Source: ebay.com)
Delicious Peanut Butter waffle (marthastewart.com)
With the waffle-like design, it allows less rubber or silicone touching the skin, allowing more water to pass through the strap. This will always ensure that there is enough breathability between the rubber strap and the wrists.
4) Two keepers
Two keepers Tropic Strap (Source: ebay.com)
Rolex Submariner with Tropic double keepers (Source: forums.timezone.com)
Traditional Tropic straps have two keepers while modern Tropic’s have one or two in some cases. This is for practicality purpose as most tropic straps are longer than usual to be able to wear over a wet diving suit.
Single Keeper Tropic from Uncle Seiko (Source: uncleseiko.com)
Single Keeper Tropic (Source: ebay.com)
Therefore, the keepers will act to hold the strap and prevent the excess length from sticking out of the side of your wrists. How cool is that?
5) Tooth-like sides
Tropic tooth-like perforations (Source:ebay.com)
From the sides, if you zoomed in carefully, you can see patterns. Conventional Tropic straps have raised tooth-like blocks and cuts from the sides. These perforations give the straps a unique texture feeling as you run your fingers across.
Avengers: Endgame poster (Source: Disney/Marvel)
Thanks to Tropic straps incredible durability, you can probably get classic vintage straps as old as 40 years which are still in good condition. However, if you are not prepared to fork out a large amount of money for rubber straps, stay tuned for our next post. We will show you a list of modern Tropic straps with more affordable which you can pair with your watch.