The bracelet or band is an important part of a watch’s personality, look, and fit. The market for aftermarket Rolex straps and bracelets has grown a lot in the last couple of years due to an increased interest in changing straps but also because more people have discovered both the benefits and practicality of aftermarket Rolex watch bands.
Changing your Rolex band
Rolex watches, when they come from the factory, are fitted with a specific type of strap or bracelet. Unlike some other watch brands, Rolex doesn’t offer different strap options for the same model (with one exception, the GMT-Master II, available on Oyster bracelet and Jubilee since 2021).
There are a few primary reasons why people opt for an aftermarket strap for their Rolex:
- For design and style purposes
- To protect and preserve the original bracelet
- Because the original bracelet has lost its quality and perhaps been worn out
The fact of the matter is that you can buy new Rolex bracelets from official Rolex retailers, but from our experience, the main reason why more and more people are looking for aftermarket straps is because of a few different reasons. In general, you cannot just go to a Rolex store and buy a Rolex bracelet for your watch. Normally, the process is more complex than that. And in addition, the price for buying Rolex bracelets separately is often really high.
The main reasons why people turn to aftermarket Rolex bracelets are
The complexity of buying an original Rolex bracelet
It may be surprising for a lot of people, but the fact is that buying an original Rolex bracelet from a Rolex store can actually be quite complex. But worth mentioning is that some stores will always be exceptions.
In general, in order to buy a Rolex bracelet, you need to have the watch for which it was originally intended. With that said, you will in most cases not be able to buy a bracelet that was not original for your model.
In addition, you will rarely be able to buy a Rolex bracelet separately. A common practice, at least if you have the watch serviced by Rolex is that they offer you to change the bracelet on an exchange basis, meaning they replace your bracelet with a new, and then give you a cheaper price.
If you are able to buy a bracelet, they will normally have to fit the bracelet to your watch as well.
Again, we want to highlight the fact that the store policies have proven to vary across the world, even though Rolex’s policies and directives are the same which is quite interesting. But that’s a topic for a different article.
Furthermore, for the most part, Rolex retailers do not have all bracelets in stock. This means they have to order the bracelet from Rolex. This may take days but it can also take months.
Most people are shocked and surprised the first time they hear the cost of buying a new replacement bracelet from a Rolex retailer. For example, a Rolex President bracelet in gold for an older model starts at around $15k. Some gold bracelets can cost closer to $20k.
For a regular (modern) steel Jubilee bracelet, you can expect to pay somewhere around $2000 dollars.
With that said, it is easy to understand why people are looking for more affordable alternatives when the cost of a bracelet is essentially as high as the cost of a new watch!
To protect the original bracelet
Over time, your bracelet will become scratched and subject to wear and tear. To preserve the original bracelet, a lot of people, therefore, opt for an aftermarket bracelet. Using an aftermarket bracelet, whether that is a rubber strap, metal bracelet, or perhaps a leather strap, will keep your original bracelet in a good condition. This will both help increase the value of your watch, but will also keep you from having to polish your bracelet time and time over.
A good way to preserve your Rolex bracelet is therefore to opt for an aftermarket strap. This makes sense if you consider the cost of replacing one, as discussed above.
For style and purpose
Your standard Rolex bracelet may not be ideal and suitable for any occasion and situation. In some cases, your watch may be more suitable with a rubber strap, and in other situations, a leather strap may be more suitable. In this article, we looked closer at choosing a watch strap for the occasion in detail and the conclusion in that article was that different watch straps are suitable for different occasions. In some cases, a leather strap may be the most suitable, whereas, in others, an aftermarket metal bracelet may be better in order to preserve your original one.
Let’s have a look at the most important things you need to consider when buying an aftermarket strap.
Buying an aftermarket Rolex watch band - things to consider
One of the biggest challenges with aftermarket watch brands for Rolex watches is the fit. This is particularly true if it is a metal bracelet. In order to have an aftermarket bracelet with a perfect fit, it must be designed for a particular Rolex model. Different Rolex models have different lug designs and so the aftermarket bracelet needs to be made with great precision in order to fit well.
Usually, the maker of the aftermarket strap informs you which model a particular band is made for which helps make the process much easier. But at the same time, it is important to know that a band that may fit one watch may not fit another one.
One thing that differentiates different aftermarket Rolex straps is the fit. In order for a bracelet to look and feel good, it needs to have an excellent fit against the case. The best aftermarket straps on the market have been designed and developed to provide a fit that is just as great as the original.
If you are opting for a leather strap or NATO strap, the only thing you need to think about is the lug width, but for the straps that have ”curved-ends” with end links that are meant to integrate perfectly into the case, precision is everything.
At the same time, lug width will always play a role in ensuring a perfect fit. Make sure you know the lug width of your Rolex and then choose the aftermarket strap accordingly.
When you fit an aftermarket strap on your Rolex, you should not take for granted that you can use the original spring bars. Many aftermarket bands come with spring bars to ensure it fits, but in some cases, you may need to find particular spring bars. With that said, don’t worry if the band doesn’t fit your watch because it may just be the spring bars that need to be changed.
Can you buy a Rolex rubber strap?
One of the most popular aftermarket Rolex straps is the rubber straps. You can find aftermarket rubber straps for most Rolex models in endless of colors and styles. This is a nice strap option that is durable, stylish, and long-lasting.
Rolex only makes one rubber strap themselves and that is the black Oysterflex bracelet. Not only is this quite expensive, but it is also sometimes difficult to acquire. This brings us to the next point.
Can you buy the Oysterflex strap separately?
It depends… In general, you can buy an Oysterflex separately, but like with a bracelet, the Rolex store will usually have to fit it on your watch and will not sell it separately.
In addition, there are only a few models that come with the Oysterflex and if you have a model that does not come with the Oysterflex bracelet, some stores will not sell the Oysterflex because it is not meant for your watch.
In this case, your option is to buy an original Oysterflex bracelet secondhand or just opt for an aftermarket rubber strap, which is what a lot of people do. It is also more affordable than buying an original Oysterflex.
Who makes Rolex rubber bands?
The popularity of Rolex rubber straps has exploded in recent years. Not just for Rolex watches but for the watch industry as a whole. And when an orthodox brand like Rolex adds rubber straps to its standard collection of watches, you know that the rubber strap trend is likely here to stay for a long time.
With the increased popularity of rubber straps, many different aftermarket rubber strap brands have popped up on the market. The most popular today are Horus straps, Crafter Blue, Everest bands, and RubberB.