the fascinating history of the rolex oyster bracelet
Why write a story about random stainless steel bracelets that have been around for decades?
I really believe that oyster bracelets and associated end links have played an important role in Rolex history and may even be as important as the original waterproof shell.
Oyster bracelets are a happy coincidence to celebrate the 70 th anniversary this year.
The simple design of the Rolex Oyster bracelet perfectly blends the practical lines of the submarine sailor and GMTMaster.
On the wrist, it is beautifully dressed and works perfectly with seemingly simple buttons.
However, the modern oyster bracelet we know today is a genius and it will be a mistake.
Its creation is more of a process of continuous progress;
Rolex patiently ensures that the oyster bracelet is still the most practical, almost invisible touch --
Ups over the years.
As a result, bracelets alone provide insight into the culture of Rolex, especially its obsession with important details.
For me, the cult status of vintage and modern Rolex can be seen through these seemingly-simple parts.
The history of oyster bracelets is not without a lack of irony, as the first bracelets were not actually made by Rolex, nor were they the standard options in the Rolex catalogue.
In the early 1930 s, the bracelet was indeed an expensive add-on.
On, representing sometimes almost half the price of an independent watch (
In the case of two people
The original Rolex bracelet was made by Guy Flores, the most famous bracelet supplier, and he knows more about later making the original love Royal Oak bracelet and the strange hollow bracelet
Bracelet for real time El Primero. The Bonklip (
Also known as \"bamboo \")
It is the most common shape at the time, and narrow parallel links can be seen on the left side of the family picture below.
Interestingly, many vendors produced the same type of bracelet at the time, but Rolex has been loyal to Guy Flores through 1930 and 1940.
In a beautiful twist, the prolific bracelet manufacturer that originally supplied Rolex was actually acquired by Rolex in 1998, highlighting the company\'s stable mission of acquiring suppliers to continuously and smoothly complete the production process.
This industrial strategy is totally meaningful when you reach Rolex production
And it\'s not a small detail when you have such a large cash reserve as well.
Looking at the same picture, you can also see the bracelet, which is almost a soft introduction to oysters.
Looking further down from Bonklip, you can see an unusual bracelet with a double center link, although it looks like an oyster.
But these are just the predecessors of the oyster bracelet, which was patented in February 1947 (
Patent number 257,185 if you want to know)
And first appeared in the Rolex catalogue in 1948.
However, this is not the first one.
Rolex house bracelet-
The Jubilee has this honor because it paired with the new date when it launched this iconic series in 1945.
At first, the oyster bracelet was mainly for so-
Known as the \"bubble back\" and timing, while the strap is still a more common option in Rolex\'s portfolio.
The design and construction of the oyster bracelet has barely changed in the 10 and a half years since its launch, but a breakthrough addition was introduced in 1952.
Until today, the oyster bracelet has only a straight end, but in the end the 303,005 patent has injected vitality into the bragging end chain, which completes the Rolex look we know today.
You can see in the image of the full watch that the end link is the missing \"link\", eventually closing the gap between the bracelet and the case and allowing for a clever fusion between the two elements.
It also has practical functions (
As you expect from Rolex)
, Reduce the pressure on the edge of the spring bar as it keeps these parts in place and distributes any tension more evenly.
It\'s no surprise that the first factory model
Rolex GMT with end links-
Master reference 6542, launched in 1954.
This selection highlights the athletic quality of the oyster bracelet, which is quickly equipped with the explorers and submarine sailors.
For the next 10 years, it remains the only option for Rolex sports watches until the updated Rolex GMT-
Master, reference 1675.
From the beginning of 1950, there have been significant changes in oysters, most notably by increasing the quality in order to increase their resistance, although the basic function is still in line with the original idea.
The first generation is often referred to as a \"Rivet bracelet\" because there are visible rivets on the outer edge, connecting the hollow folding links together.
Next, we got the \"fold link bracelet\" which shows the heftier link, which was created by folding a piece of metal multiple times.
For these bracelets, the pin is internal and cannot be seen on the outer edge.
The final shape is clearly the thickest and has really solid connections.
This is the configuration you found on a modern Rolex watch.
The function has always been King here-
These changes are not for surface reasons.
The more compact the bracelet link is, the more abuse it can keep over time.
One cannot forget that a broken bracelet can cause the watch to be lost or damaged.
It really shows how important the resistance of the bracelet is to the survival of the watch, which Rolex has been insisting on.
In addition, it is this attitude that explains why Rolex tends to replace parts in order to use the latest feature \"upgrade\" Rolex when you receive service (
This is very desperate for retro enthusiasts, their goal is to be completely original).
Looking at any generation of Rolex bracelets, you can see how Rolex uses its obsession with detail to help it achieve such a huge output (
It is now estimated that the number of watches produced every year is about 1,000,000).
Nothing is accidental, so each generation of oyster bracelets has a specific reference number, usually found on the last link of the bracelet, not only indicating the generation to which it belongs, also indicates the size of the end link it occupies.
For example, for a rivet oyster with 7206 end links, the reference 20mm is correct, while a very identical bracelet with 19mm end links will be designated as reference 7205 (
Let\'s not forget Lady reference 7204 with 13mm end links).
To make things more complex, there are some minor changes in each model, usually due to local production
In order to pay less taxes, many bracelets have been produced in the United States or Mexico, with \"C & I\" and \"Hecho en Mexico\" on the bracelets, respectively \".
The original rivet bracelet also provides two structures, one is the expansion link (
It is worth noting that the reference is 6634/6635/6636, again explaining the difference between the size of the end link).
Those who are soon proved to be more fixed than the standard
Links such as bracelets are eliminated (
Not to mention the excellent hair removal performance of the former).
A new generation of folding links appeared in late 1960 with references 7834/7835/7836 (
Rolex submarine 9315 but more about this variant later)
, The final link itself is constantly evolving to better adapt to the new bracelet and the new box.
Again, this particular section has its own reference number, which allows people to make sure that the combination of the bracelet and the end link works properly with the given Watch.
It turns out that the surgical folding is stronger than the original rivet structure, but is eventually replaced by a complete solid link.
The reference number of the new bracelet is the same as the folded one --
Link predecessors, but add an extra zero at the end of each (
78360 oyster bracelet 20mm, and so on).
Solid link structure is the shape factor we know today, whether it is to provide a full brushed look or to provide a polished center link in the case of Daytona and GMTMaster II.
Obviously, the oyster bracelet has been copied many times and, to be fair, its design cannot be fully attributed to Rolex.
But for the past 70 years, it has remained the benchmark for judging other sports watch bracelets.
It can be said that some designs have proved more sophisticated
Charming bracelet from Royal Oak comes to mind-
However, it\'s hard to find a better feature --
Watch bracelets for drive tools anywhere.
I mean, if it\'s good enough for 007. . .
It\'s not fair to stop our exercise.
Because Rolex does not limit its focus to the resistance of the link, no matter how important this element is.
In addition to the evolution described above, the terminal link itself becomes thicker.
Finally, we even got the full, solid end link instead of the fold link on the early bracelet.
This move actually started with a heavier Rolex Sea --
The cousin of the submarine is more tough.
Now, the solid end links on all Rolex bracelets are standard, made of precious metals and steel, making the spring Rod better maintained on the axis of the convex ear hole.
As we said, there is no real purpose and nothing can be done.
Another important evolution is related to the classification.
While folding two curved blades and an overlapping Buckle has proven to be simple and effective, this mechanism is still susceptible to unwanted openings when a strong impact is applied.
Obviously, this is not ideal on the tool watch, because its essence is to experience wear and tear in harsh environments (
Remember the diving watch commissioned by Comex and the British Army).
So the submarine and the sea
In 1969, residents got their own buckle design with an extra fixed buckle on the basic folding mechanism, which also hides a built-in
In the diver\'s expansion system
As you can infer, this change produces its own oyster bracelet range, with reference to the 9315/9316 equivalent of a 7836 bracelet for a submarine sailor equipped with a stronger clasp (
Later replaced with 93150 of the full link).
Please note that the current buckle also provides extra micro
Adjustment system (
Called \"glidelock \")
, As you will find in the modern bracelet 93250 designed for submarine sailors.
Far from being random.
Lens product development, decades of continuous investment in oyster bracelets really highlights Rolex\'s focus on going beyond every technical specification that makes watches better.
One can argue that this progress is sometimes at the expense of engaging little quirks that make us like retro models, but in the end
The result is no dispute, and the watch will indeed always be an objective and better tool watch.
Behind the vast array of references shown in the chart below, these bracelets reveal the underrated side of Rolex: extreme details of its product design.
Emphasizing functionality, slowly shaping and reshaping the look and feel of bracelets and watches since 1950, also explains why the modern iterative feel is so connected to the original parts.
Note: Thanks to the dealer for providing these beautiful vintage bracelets.
Hodinkee is an outstanding resource for fans of modern and vintage watches. Through in-
Hodinkee strap to 21 years old with in-depth reviews, live reports and dynamic videos
Audience of the century