Newspaper article International New York Times

Where the Rubber Meets the Wrist

Newspaper article International New York Times

Where the Rubber Meets the Wrist

Article excerpt

The go-anywhere band has evolved into a haute fashion statement; it's like wearing sneakers with a Thom Browne suit.

Let's get one thing straight: That rubbery, straplike thing that holds the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master Everose gold to your wrist is not, according to Rolex, "rubber." Nor is it a "strap."

It is, in the company's description, an Oysterflex, a "technical bracelet" consisting of a titanium and nickel-alloy blade covered with "high-performance black elastomer," featuring a "patented longitudinal cushion system."

Unveiled with fanfare at the Baselworld watch fair in March, Rolex's foray into rubber was greeted as a feat of engineering to rival some futuristic iPhone with a holographic screen. "One of the most overengineered, overly complicated, and probably unnecessary watch accessories ever," Bloomberg's Stephen Pulvirent wrote. "But that's kind of why it's so awesome."

As the he-man sports watch continues its ascent into luxe territory, the go-anywhere rubber strap (in some minds, the province of $100 Swatch watches and Fitbits) has evolved into a haute fashion statement, embodying stealth wealth at its finest. Elegant yet sporty and unpretentious, it is the horological equivalent of wearing a Thom Browne suit with sneakers.

As a strap material, rubber has at least one obvious advantage over traditional metals and hides: It can be rendered in any color or shape.

Consider the rainbow on display at Baselworld. Tudor unveiled a Pelagos diver's watch (about $4,400) with a rubber strap in a blue as inviting as the Aegean, and Oris countered with its Aquis Depth Gauge watch ($3,500), with a yellow rubber strap seemingly bright enough to read by. Sinn showed off a limited edition EZM 7, designed for fire brigades, featuring a rubber strap in three-alarm red ($2,730).

Watch geeks looking to take a further spin around the color wheel may explore the fashion possibilities of the Apple Watch Sport ($349 to $399), whose aggressively futurist fluoroelastomer Sport Band (in pink, green and blue, besides black and white) is a form of Jetsons- esque jewelry, as well as a gym-friendly timepiece accessory. …

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