Posted on December 21 2014
Before we started Smith & Bradley almost three years ago, we were watch lovers and consumers. We would buy watches, sell watches, trade watches, and even fix and modify watches. At some point in the process, we discovered the importance of the humble rubber strap. A misnomer in that most “rubber” straps are not actually rubber at all, whether it is on a Rolex, a Nardin, or, dare we suggest a Smith & Bradley, the “rubber” watch strap involves far more research, development, trial, and error than meets the eye. (The same goes for car tires, but that's a whole other blog post.)
When we decided to make our first rubber strap to accompany the San-13, we knew we want to do something different. Rather than use a synthetic (which we do sell especially for diving and for the Ambush and Atlantis) we opted for a more expensive natural rubber. We designed the molds and the compound. In a tactical watch, we did not want the stiffness of the silicone to be an issue. Additionally, with the long period of time most people wear their tactical watches, we wanted to have a rubber strap that was comfortable out of the box and almost entirely allergy free. Finally we wanted the increase durability of a thick strap that was soft to the touch.
The first company to use a rubber watch strap on a high-end watch we believe was Hublot in 1980. This was a natural rubber strap and took years to produce. Until this time, these straps were produced almost exclusively for diving and were often stiff and could become brittle with wear. Because of this side effect, the rubber strap did not gain wide industry support and use until the quality improved and synthetic materials and processing were used. Synthetics have developed a great deal over the subsequent years, and the rubber strap market is now quite robust. Even the luxury watch makers from the other side of the pond, Cartier, are in on the action, although, they warn that their rubber straps will only last approximately 18 months. Still, the market is large now with simply straps selling for less than five dollars and higher end straps selling for hundreds of dollars.
We spent almost a year developing our TPU strap lineup, and we are sure that it will stand the test of time and provide a killer value. We agonized over the proper molds and the even the clasp. We truly own this strap. We didn’t choose TPU by mistake and we are sure that you will love it. For the Ambush and the Atlantis, we designed two straps constructed from a compound known as Thermoplastic polyurethane or TPU of you do not spend your days in a Chemistry lab. TPU is a polyurethane plastic that has remarkable durability and flexibility. In the context of a watch strap, TPU provides exceptional comfort and durability while remaining soft and supple. In that TPU is a lab-based compound, it comes at a price. TPU is generally more expensive than other plastics, however the benefits far outweigh the costs. This is why TPU makes its way into everything from medical devices, to power tools.T
The result was the Sans-13 strap which we sell today as part of the tactical bundle with a polishing cloth and extra box. The strap will last for much longer than 18 months as well. Be sure to notice the workmanship and detail that go into to every natural rubber Smith & Bradley strap, and remember to keep the strap in a dry place and maybe even sprinkle a little talc on it once in a while for good measure.