The strap or bracelet is a crucial part of a watch in order to be able to wear it. But it is also a crucial aspect of the overall look and design of a watch a well.
Over the years, the interest in straps has increased dramatically. And frankly, it’s easy to see why. Changing the strap on your watch will give it a completely new look and also allow you to mix and match your outfits and mood. Some people have a whole collection of various straps to choose from and change them daily on their watch, others don’t bother too much and simply wear the watch as it came from the factory.
A discussion and common question people have is whether you should have a strap or bracelet on their watch. And that’s exactly the topic that we are going to discuss and look closer at in this article.
Strap VS bracelet on your watch?
The choice of whether you should choose a strap or bracelet on your watch is at the end of the day completely up to you, but there are a few things that are important to know and keep in mind first.
Different types of watch straps and bracelets
Different watches have different designs and strap/bracelet options. Most watches use regular spring bars for their lugs, meaning that you remove the spring bar to remove the strap or bracelet, and then have the ability to put on a new strap or bracelet.
When it comes to changing different bracelets on your watch, people usually use the bracelet that is on the watch. Not all watches come with a metal bracelet from the factory, and in general, there are not a lot of aftermarket straps that you can buy to fit on your watch if this is the case. In addition, not all watches are designed to be able to fit a bracelet. In these cases, it’s more a matter of the type of watch you choose to begin with. If you are specifically looking for a strap watch, you don’t really have to pay attention to whether or not you’ll be able to fit a metal bracelet later on.
Therefore, if the ability to switch between bracelets and straps is important to you, make sure you consider whether or not that is possible with a certain watch you are planning to buy. For example, an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak has an integrated bracelet design which makes it more complicated to switch the bracelet. But it also means that you have a smaller selection of straps to choose from because they need to have a dedicated design to fit that exact watch. In these cases, you need to buy straps specifically for that timepiece, and if you are going to buy original OEM straps, these can be very pricey as well.
At the same time, most watches that have metal bracelets can be fitted with straps. And in that sense, bracelet watches, in general, offer a greater array of choices because you can wear them either with a strap or with a bracelet.
Furthermore, when it comes to straps, there really is an endless number of different watch straps on the market that you can choose from. Rubber straps, leather straps, person straps, NATO-straps, and much more. Then, of course, you have the ability to choose watch straps in an endless selection of different colors as well. The color choices allow you to mix and match exactly as you like.
Which is best - strap or bracelet?
There is no real answer to that question. It all comes down to taste, purpose, and preference.
In general, metal bracelets allow for a sportier look than straps. Metal bracelets are generally more versatile and can work for all kinds of different occasions. The same cannot always be said about straps. For example, if you fit your dive watch with a leather strap, it may help make it more elegant and classy, but it will not be ideal for diving and swimming. However, if you wear it on a bracelet, you’ll be able to wear it both when swimming and on formal occasions.
Choosing the type of strap for your watch
As the interest in watch straps has increased, the market for straps has exploded. What’s interesting is that many watch brands have also followed this trend as well. Some brands have designed strap changing systems to make it easier for the wearer to change straps, including Audemars Piguet with its latest Royal Oak Offshore collection, Panerai with its push-system, and many more. If you are a big fan of changing straps, you may therefore want to consider watches that have designs that make it easier to change them.
A lot of people buy many different straps so they can switch and choose however they please and based on the situation and occasion.
There are generally two things you need to think about when you are considering watch straps vs bracelets.
First and foremost, you need to think about the lug width on your watch. Different watches have different lug widths, so in order for the strap to fit, it needs to be the same as your watch.
Secondly, you need to consider the type of strap that you want. There are no real rules here and you are completely free to choose whichever strap you want for your watch, but there are a few things that may affect the type of strap that suits best on your watch. With this said, you need to think about the style and purpose of your watch, then the style and purpose of your strap. For example, if you have a dress watch, it may not look very good to put on a sporty rubber strap because it simply does not match the purpose and style of the watch. And of course, as mentioned, how you use it is also something to consider so that you choose a strap that is suitable for the occasion.
For example, if you are going diving, you want a strap that is water-resistant and can handle water. In these cases, it may be appropriate to either use a rubber strap or a metal bracelet. If you’re going to be in a situation where you’ll subject your watch to harsh conditions, it may be wiser to have a NATO strap as to not scratch or damage your bracelet. It all depends on the situation and circumstances. But this is also why it is so great to be able to change straps so you can have the perfect strap for the occasion.
The bracelet is often an important part of the design
As mentioned briefly, the bracelet is often an important part of the design on a watch. This is particularly true on some watches, for example, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak with its iconic integrated bracelet, as well as the Patek Philippe Nautilus with its integrated bracelet. Whilst you often can change the strap for these types of watches, you may want to think twice before you do. Some watches look better with straps than others, and some cannot be used with other straps than the one it was originally presented with.
But in some cases, it’s just best to let the watch be as it was meant to be when it left the factory. In other cases, it’s almost a shame if you don’t explore different strap options.
Some watches are available to buy either with a strap or bracelet when buying them brand new, for example, many Tudor or Omega watches. From a cost perspective, it’s always best to buy the bracelet version and then complement it with additional straps further on. However, if you are going to buy a strap version and then complement it with a bracelet, it will be much more expensive. In these cases, it is therefore always buy the bracelet version when you can.
Comfort - strap or bracelet?
Oftentimes, but certainly not always, a strap is more comfortable than a metal bracelet. The reason for this is of course very obvious. A metal bracelet is harder and rougher against the wrist compared to a soft leather strap or NATO strap. With this in mind, if you find yourself wearing a watch with a bracelet that isn’t very comfortable, it can actually be a good idea.
At the same time, there are some bracelets that are designed with comfort in mind and which are extremely comfortable to wear. You just have to try, test, and then make your decision accordingly.
In some cases, it may be difficult to find a perfect fit when you have a metal bracelet, and even if you size it, it may not sit perfectly. But with a strap, you’ll never have to size it, and you can just adjust the size according to your wrist which is a very popular reason for many to go for a strap.