A Guide to Metal Watch Bracelets: 14 Types to Know
Metal watch bracelets are a classic and timeless choice for watch enthusiasts, and they come in a variety of styles, materials, and finishes. From the iconic Rolex Oyster bracelet to the sleek and modern Mesh band, metal watch bracelets offer both durability and style. However, With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your watch. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at 14 types of metal watch bracelets, their unique features, and the benefits they offer. Whether you’re looking for a sporty or dressy option, this guide will help you find the perfect metal watch bracelet for your style and needs.
Note: The bracelets we will be discussing are commonly crafted from stainless steel, although they are not exclusively limited to this material. It’s important to note that watch bracelets can also be made from various other metals such as gold, titanium, and even luxurious precious materials.
Before we dive into each type of metal watch bracelet, let’s first discuss some basic terms related to watch bracelets for better understanding.
- Some Terms Related to Watch Bracelets
- 1. The Oyster Bracelet
- 2. The Jubilee Bracelet
- 3. The President Bracelet
- 4. The Pearlmaster Bracelet
- 5. The Milanese Bracelet
- 6. The Shark Mesh Bracelets
- 7. The Beads of Rice Bracelet
- 8. The Engineer Bracelet
- 9. The Bonklip Bracelet
- 10. The Ladder Bracelet
- 11. The H-link Bracelet
- 12. The Integrated Bracelet
- 13. The Expansion Bracelet
- 14. The Rally Bracelet
Some Terms Related to Watch Bracelets
In a nutshell, watch links are individual small metal parts that are connected together to form a bracelet, acting as the foundation of a watch bracelet. The links vary in design and size, which will be further discussed as we delve into the different styles of watch bracelets.
The end links are the links at the end of the watch bracelet that are designed specifically to connect the bracelet to the watch case. Each bracelet has two end links.
There are two kinds of end links: hollow end links and solid end links. The hollow end links are made of a thin and hollow piece of stamped or formed metal that is connected to the bracelet by a spring bar. Due to its less precise fit, a hollow end link may produce a slight rattle and have less physical contact with the watch as compared to a solid end link.
A solid end link or SEL, on the other hand, is made from a single thick and heavy piece of metal and in general, is permanently connected to the rest of the bracelet. A Solid end link will connect to the case with a more precise fit because of its inherent and larger contact point. Solid end links are more durable, quiet, and elegant, and the bracelet appears to ‘merge’ with the watch.
The choice between hollow and solid end links is purely personal. In general, hollow end links tend to have a more vintage feel, while solid end links tend to fit better.
The Clasp is a bracelet closure that is used to open or close the bracelet. It is an essential component of the watch band, providing a secure and comfortable fit. They come in different designs depending on the type of bracelet and the overall appearance of the watch.
Related Article: Types of Watch Clasps
Now we will explore the different types of metal watch bracelets, starting with the most common and popular type, the oyster bracelet.
1. The Oyster Bracelet
The Oyster is a three-piece link metal watch bracelet, with two rows of smaller links on either side of a middle row of large flat links. It was first used by Rolex and is still considered the most iconic of the bracelet types due to its uniform size and simple yet formal appearance. A link can be removed or replaced at any time, so wearing it for years is not anything out of the question.
They come in two types. The first is the super oyster and the second is the regular oyster. The difference between these two is that the super oysters generally have thicker screw-in pins and solid end links, making them heavier and more solid than regular oysters.
2. The Jubilee Bracelet
Unlike the oyster bracelet’s 3-link design, the jubilee bracelet is created with a 5-link design. It consists of three small center links flanked by larger links on either side. The jubilee bracelet was first introduced in 1945 by Rolex on its 40 anniversary. It was designed specifically for Rolex Datejust.
The jubilee bracelets are the second most popular bracelets in the watch world. You’ve most likely seen them on Rolex and Seiko watches. They have a dressier appearance compared to other metal bracelets, due to the intricate and decorative nature of the design. Additionally, they are known for their comfortability and flexibility, thanks to their many smaller links.
Two-tone (Gold & Silver) jubilee bracelets are also popular in the market. Basically, they are made of stainless steel with a gold PVD coating on the middle little links.
They are also classified into two types. The first is the Angus (regular) jubilee and the second is the Super jubilee. The difference between the two is that the Angus-j has a larger clasp than the Super-j and the second major difference is the size of the links. The Angus-j links are much larger, much thicker, and even much heavier than the super-j links. Simply said, the links in the Angus-j are hollow whereas the links in the Super-j are solid.
3. The President Bracelet
The President bracelet is somewhat similar to the Oyster bracelet in that it is a three-link design. But It has semi-circular as opposed to the flat links of the oyster bracelet. The links gradually increase in size as they approach the center of the bracelet, with the middle row of links being larger than the outer two rows.
The President bracelet was first introduced in the 1960s by Rolex. It was designed specifically for the President of the United States. The President Bracelet is one of the most popular styles because it is versatile and can be worn with a variety of outfits. It is also one of the most comfortable to wear because of its semi-circular links.
4. The Pearlmaster Bracelet
The Pearlmaster bracelet is a five-link bracelet with a single row of large middle links and two rows of tiny links on either side. All links are slightly rounded and the center links of the bracelet are decorated with exquisite diamonds, which give it a stunning and sophisticated appearance.
Image Source: Watchesofswitzerland.com
The Pearlmaster bracelets are a popular choice for women’s watches because it is comfortable to wear and looks good with a variety of outfits. It is only made from precious metals like yellow, white or rose gold, or platinum. The first Pearlmaster bracelet was introduced in the 1992s by Rolex and was designed specifically for the Rolex Lady-Datejust Pearlmaster watch collection.
5. The Milanese Bracelet
The Milanese Bracelets are made from metal wires that are twisted together to form a bracelet. The Milanese Bracelets give an elegant and sophisticated look to any outfit. They were produced in the late 1800s by the Milanese watchmakers. And then German watch strap manufacturers Staib and Vollmer began making Milanese or Mesh watch bracelets in the 1920s, which appeared on many classic timepieces. Nowadays Milanese bracelets are commonly seen on fitness trackers and smartwatches.
6. The Shark Mesh Bracelets
Shark Mesh Bracelets are similar to Milanese bracelets in that they are made from twisted metal wires. However, the shark mesh bracelets have somewhat larger and looser links than the Milanese bracelets. The bracelet gets its name from the shark-like pattern of the mesh, which creates a distinct texture and appearance.
Shark Mesh watch bracelets look sleek and stylish on the wrist and provide excellent grip. They are also easy to clean and maintain. The first mesh watch bracelet was introduced by Omega in the 1970s. It was designed specifically for Omega’s Seamaster line of watches.
Note: Milanese and Shark Mesh Bracelets come in various sizes to fit different wrist sizes. Some manufacturers provide bracelets with removable links, allowing you to customize the length of the bracelet for a perfect fit. It is important to ensure that the Milanese or Shark Mesh Bracelet you purchase can be adjusted to your wrist size.
7. The Beads of Rice Bracelet
The Beads of Rice bracelet was originally introduced in the 1940s and has since become a popular choice for vintage and dress watches. Its unique design of small, rice-shaped beads strung together creates a classic and timeless look. The bracelet’s construction follows the natural shape of the wrist, providing a comfortable fit and making it a great option for everyday wear.
The Beads of Rice Bracelet comes in two different styles: one with two rows of large flat links on either side of the beads, and the other with only oval-shaped (rice-shaped) beads and no additional rows of large links.
8. The Engineer Bracelet
The Engineer bracelets are made of five rows of equally sized links. Each link has a hexagonal shape. The thicker links make these bracelets feel heavier on the wrist. It was once common to see these bracelets on Seiko dive watches. The Engineer bracelet is suitable for watches with heavy cases and large dials.
9. The Bonklip Bracelet
Walter M. Krementz, a jewelry specialist based in New Jersey, invented the Bonklip Bracelets in the late 1920s. During the 1950s and 1960s, these bracelets were widely used on British military watches. Their popularity spread from the United Kingdom to the rest of the world.
The Bonklip bracelet is made of two separate rows of links that are connected with a closed-end link. Both rows are made of flat, thin loops that are connected by tubular links. One of the rows slides into the other through a slightly bigger loop at the end. The small L-shaped clasp that looks like another link at first glance can be positioned along the entire wrist length. It can be tucked in between any of the two links along the entire row. The main advantage of the Bonklip Bracelet is that it can be infinitely adjusted to fit any wrist size.
The design of the Bonklip bracelet is very unique and has been used on all sorts of watches, from Rolex to Patek Philippe. It is especially suitable for watches with small cases and (In our opinion) looks perfect on women’s watches. However, It’s also popular on men’s watches.
10. The Ladder Bracelet
The Ladder Bracelet was first introduced in the mid of the twentieth century by famous bracelet manufacturer Gay Frères. It was prominently paired alongside the famous Zenith El Primero watch. Now the well-known American company Forstner has recreated its own version of the Ladder Bracelet.
The ladder bracelet is similar to an oyster bracelet but has larger gaps between the center links. The gaps lighten the bracelet and make it more flexible and comfortable to wear on the wrist. The ladder Bracelets are the perfect choice for vintage watches because they give a vintage look to the watch.
11. The H-link Bracelet
The H-link bracelet is a type of metal watch bracelet that features a design of links in the shape of an “H.” The links are typically wider than those found on other bracelets, giving the H-link bracelet a more substantial and heavier feel.
The H-link bracelet was popularized by luxury watch brands such as Cartier and Rolex. However, it is now commonly used by many other watch brands due to its versatile design. The bracelet is suitable for both dress and casual watches, and its sturdiness makes it a popular choice for sports watches.
12. The Integrated Bracelet
The integrated bracelet is a unique type of metal watch bracelet that is designed to blend seamlessly with the watch case, giving the watch a more cohesive and streamlined look. Unlike other types of bracelets, the integrated bracelet is specifically designed for a particular watch model and is often an essential element of the watch’s design.
The integrated bracelet is crafted from the same materials as the watch case and is usually attached directly to the case with screws, rather than using traditional spring bars. This ensures a more secure connection and prevents the bracelet from accidentally detaching from the watch.
Many high-end luxury watch brands, such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Richard Mille, are known for their integrated bracelet designs. However, the integrated bracelet is not limited to high-end watches and can be found in a variety of watch styles and price points.
13. The Expansion Bracelet
The expansion bracelet, also known as a stretch bracelet, is a type of watch bracelet that is characterized by its elastic design. It is made up of numerous small metal links that are connected by tiny springs, which allow the bracelet to stretch and contract as it is put on or taken off the wrist. The expansion bracelet was first introduced in the early 20th century and quickly gained popularity due to its convenience and ease of use.
One of the benefits of the expansion bracelet is its adjustability. It can fit a wide range of wrist sizes, making it a popular choice for those who have difficulty finding a bracelet that fits comfortably. Additionally, the absence of clasps or buckles means there are no metal parts that could potentially irritate the skin. However, due to its elastic properties, the bracelet may loosen over time, resulting in the watch moving around on the wrist.
14. The Rally Bracelet
The Rally Bracelet features circular cutouts or perforations in the links. These cutouts resemble the holes found on the steering wheels of rally cars, which is where the bracelet gets its name. Its circular design adds a unique and sporty look to any watch it’s paired with. The Rally bracelet is often seen on chronograph watches or sports watches, complementing their dynamic and adventurous aesthetics.
In conclusion, choosing the right bracelet for your watch can have a significant impact on both its appearance and functionality. There are various types of metal watch bracelets available in the market, each with its own unique design, style, and features. The choice of bracelet largely depends on personal preference, the type of watch, and the occasion.
Some of the popular types of bracelets include the Jubilee, Oyster, President, Beads of Rice, Shark Mesh, Milanese, Engineer, H-Link, and Expansion Bracelet. It’s important to consider factors such as comfort, adjustability, durability, and style when selecting a bracelet for your watch. By understanding the characteristics and benefits of each type of bracelet, you can choose the one that best suits your needs and complements your watch collection.
We hope that the information we’ve provided here will help you decide on the best type of watch bracelet for your watch. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. We will try our best to answer all of your queries.