The Top Three Overlooked Rolex Bracelet Types
Often when inspecting a watch the bracelet is the most overlooked feature. This might lead one to underestimate the bracelet as a mere accessory accompanying the case, however, to apply this perspective to Rolex bracelets is to completely undervalue their crucial role in Rolex history. Indeed, upon close inspection Rolex bracelet’s have played almost as crucial a role as the cases in their history, from their practical function to their iconic design.
If we are discussing Rolex bracelets, we can’t go on without mentioning Gay Frères, the most acclaimed bracelet designer and supplier in the industry. Not only was he the original and long-lasting supplier of Rolex bracelets, until being acquired by Rolex in 1998, but he was also the master behind the Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak and Nautilus bracelets, and the Zenith El Primero bracelet.
The Rolex Oyster Bracelet
The most iconic Rolex bracelet is the Oyster bracelet, and it is no coincidence that it is the bracelet which is available on more Rolex models than any other Rolex bracelet. It is also the bracelet which is offered in the most variety of materials, from Stainless Steel, Stainless Steel & 18k Yellow Gold, 18k Yellow Gold, 18k Rose Gold to 18k White Gold. The extensive variations offered on the Oyster bracelet reflects the practical nature which was intended for the Oyster bracelet upon conception. Indeed, initially designed to further fortify sports watches, it demanded more from practical functions than aesthetics, and as such developed the simple flat three-piece link construction that we know today. This perfectly suits the utilitarian design of the sports cases for which it was intended and appears alongside today, like the Submariner, Daytona, GMT, Explorer, Datejust and Oyster Perpetual.
The Oyster bracelet, that has become a cult icon, wasn’t an immediate conception. Today’s Oyster bracelet is the result of years of minor adjustments that Rolex have made to the initial Oyster design that was first patented in 1947, and later available in 1948 when it appeared in a Rolex catalogue. Not only has it’s outer construction been developed over the years, but also it’s insides, with the previously hollows links being replaced with solid links. It is minor adjustments like these which are testament to continued efforts by Rolex to advance their designs and ensure they remain at the forefront of watch engineering. As such, it would be naive to assume that today’s Oyster bracelet design will remain the same in the years to come.
The Jubilee Bracelet
Though it is not as distinguished as the Oyster bracelet, the Jubilee bracelet was, in fact, the first in-house bracelet produced by Rolex. It was released in 1945 on the Rolex DateJust for its launch celebrating Rolex’s 40th anniversary – hence the name. Until the launch of the President bracelet in the 1950’s, the Jubilee bracelet was marketed as the more formal and premium bracelet, and was therefore solely produced in prestigious solid gold. Once the President bracelet assumed this role, the Jubilee was then made available in two-tone Stainless steel and Gold, and later Stainless steel. Like the Oyster bracelet, the Jubilee has also been subject to minor changes over the decades but still remains faithful to its robust 5-piece link design and endures as a premium bracelet option on the market today.
The President Bracelet
The President Bracelet was first introduced with the inaugural Day-Date in 1956 and succeeded the Jubilee bracelet as Rolex’s premium watch. As such the President Bracelet was only ever produced in prestigious 18carat gold or platinum. The bracelet design is somewhat of a meeting between the Oyster bracelet and the Jubilee bracelet, uniting the 3-piece link design of the Oyster bracelet with the semi-circular links of the Jubilee bracelet. Upon its release in the 1950s, the President Bracelet featured an oysterclasp, but in the mid-1980’s underwent an update, and was then onwards fitted with a concealed crownclasp design, creating the appearance of a seamless effect throughout the band, adding to the prestigious look of the watch.
The Day-Date was frequently worn by heads of states and political figures over the years, which led to it becoming known as the Rolex President watch, named in part due to its appearances on the wrists of political figures, and in part due to the President Bracelet, which featured alongside it for so many years. Other than the Day-Date, the President bracelet has only ever been fitted to certain 18carat gold versions of the Rolex DateJust model since its inception, echoing it’s exclusivity.
Each bracelet plays a clear role in Rolex’s selection of watches and has a crucial part in the history of the brand’s development over the years. The aesthetics of the individual bracelets are perfectly suited to the watches they are available with and remain very similar to their design since inception.