Welcome back to our watch strap series. We will be exploring more about the Rolex Oyster bracelet. Today, we will explore how the oyster changes and improves throughout history. Are you ready? Let’s go!!
HISTORY OF ITS TRANSFORMATIONS
The picture below shows you how the oyster changes its design. It all started with the Bonklip bracelet (left) to the oyster bracelet (right) that we know today. After the Bonklip, you can see also a metal bracelet which looks like the oyster.
The history of the oyster bracelet from left to right
This is actually an early prototype for the oyster bracelet. Instead of the traditional 3 links, this prototype has two middle links instead of one.
TYPE OF OYSTER
There is a total of 3 types of Oyster bracelet known at the market. The types include rivet link bracelets, folded link bracelets and solid link bracelets.
You can recognize this type of bracelet through the obvious rivets on the sides. These are the first generation oyster bracelets. During that time, Rolex offers two types of construction for the rivet oysters, which are fixed links and expanding links.
Vintage 1969 Rolex Oyster Rivet Link Bracelet (Source:ebay.com)
Rivet expanding link. Rolex stopped production for the expanding links because it is not as durable as the fixed link oyster bracelet. (Source:Hodinkee.com)
Tudor pre-owned folded link bracelet ref 7836 (19mm)(Source: chrono-shop.net)
Folded links are thicker and heavier and it is formed by folding a piece of metal many times. These bracelets have internal pins which means it is not obvious when seen from the side view.
Solid full links
Rolex Oyster Bracelet Solid Link (Source: chrono-shop.net)
The solid full link bracelet is the thickest among all three types of oyster bracelets. It is also the heaviest and most durable. This is the most common type of oyster bracelet we can see for Rolex watches and other watch manufacturers today.
Of course, these changes are not only to look good but it is also functional. If you noticed, the links become thicker and bulkier as the years go by. This is to provide protection to the watch in case the bracelet breaks.
Three different generations of Oyster bracelet (Source:Hodinkee.com)
The thicker and bulkier the links, the greater the resistance of the bracelet. The greater the resistance, the better the bracelet can handle shock, scratches, and drops. We don’t want a bracelet which is too thin and not durable.
Changes in end links
For 15 years, the design of the oyster bracelet did not change especially the design of the end links. Those days, oyster bracelets only have straight end links.
Oyster with straight end links (Source:ebay.com)
Until 15 years later in 1952, Rolex comes out with improvements on the design by changing from straight end links to vaunted end links as shown below. The first Rolex model with the vaunted end links is the GMT Master.
Vaunted end links reference number 7835 (Source:chrono-shop.net)
Slowly, more improvements were made to the design of the end links. And now, most Rolex watches have solid end links as well. The end links are important because it completes the look of the watch together with the bracelet.
An example of the watch which was first equipped with solid end links, Rolex Submariner (Source: Amazon.com)
Solid end links( Source: chrono-shop.net)
Rolex did not change the end links for fun. Whatever Rolex decides to do, there is always a reason for it. For the end links, the solid end links distribute the tension of the spring bars more evenly. This helps to reduce the tension on the bar and reduce the possibility of the spring bar breaks.
Changes in the Clasp
Rolex also did changes to the classic design of the threefold clasp. Traditional clasp consists of two curved blades folded on each other. The third clasp will go on top of the two curved blades and locking them in place.
Three clasp with (a) conventional clasp(Right), (b) concealed clasp/ crown clasp (middle)and (c) oyster lock clasp (Right). (Source: Bobswatches.com)
This conventional design is so simple and yet very practical. However, this type of clasp is not good when subjected to sudden shock because it will open without warning.
While the three-fold clasp is suitable for a normal dress watch, it is not practical for tool watches. Example of tool watches include divers watch, pilot watch and other watch meant for extreme environments.
For the diving watches like the Submariner and Sea-dweller, Rolex designed the clasp to have an extra additional buckle. This improves the three-fold clasp by securing the strap to the wrist better.
Submariner diver watch extra buckle clasp (Source:strapcode.com)
Other variations of the clasp include oyster lock and other new technologies like the” glidelock” and “flip lock”. There will be a dedicated post about the types of clasp in the future.
Demonstration of the glidelock technology(Source: Youtube.com)
Don’t worry if this post seems a little longer than usual. I really want to share with you the knowledge of the oyster bracelet in a simple and easy manner for you to understand. The oyster bracelet without a doubt is one of the metal bracelets which watch enthusiasts love and therefore it increases its value greatly.
If you want to try out the feel of having an oyster bracelet on your watch to improve its looks, click here to go through a list of metal bracelets from other manufacturers as well. In the meantime, stay classy.