Watch Anatomy: Straps, Bracelets & Buckles

Watch Bracelet Watch AnatomyAfter our Oscar respite from watch anatomy, it is time to continue our quest of the different parts of a watch.  Today we are going to talk about the watch straps, watch bracelets and watch buckles.  You might be thinking that a watch strap and a watch bracelet are the same thing, but they actually are not.

Before I get into the differences though, this is an important part of the watch anatomy because this is what keeps the watch on your wrist. Of course, I know you already know that, but for those that don’t, I thought I would mention it just in case!

The Watch Strap

Watch StrapI showed you my new watch strap from BJ Strap in a post the other day that refreshed my Panerai.  In fact, I was going to sell that bad boy, but since I now have the new strap, I am back in love and keeping it! But, onto the strap.

The watch strap is attached to the watch case and bound by the buckle.  The material on the strap is usually leather, but can be crocodile, alligator, nylon, canvas, rubber or any other material that is not metal. The strap will wear out and need to be replaced no matter what type of material you choose, so be prepared for that.

When fitting yourself for a watch strap, no matter what the material, there should be a pinky widths between the strap of the watch and the underside of the watch when the watch is closed.  If there is more than that, the watch is too loose and the strap will not last as long as it should and it there is less, you will run into the same issue with the strap wearing out before its time.

When replacing your watch strap you need to know the width between the lugs of the watch where the strap attaches, the type of buckle you have or want and the length of the strap. Of course, you also need to know what type of material you want, but that is all aesthetics, and we want to discuss the watch anatomy, not aesthetics.

The Watch Bracelet

watch braceletThe watch bracelet is also attached to the watch case but is made of metal or in combination with another material such as rubber. The bracelet keeps your timepiece securely attached and looking sharp.  When there is no discontinuity between the bracelet and the case, this is called an integral bracelet.

A watch bracelet has a much longer lifespan than that of a watch strap.  A bracelet can last up to 20 years and sometimes longer.  The upkeep can just be taking the watch to a shop and keeping the strap polished to make it look new all over again, and perhaps keeping the links tight.  Metal bracelets are also versatile and can be sporty or dressy and just like a strap it is a matter of personal preference as to the type of link you prefer and the color of the metal you get.

A metal bracelet can be changed to a strap or to a different bracelet, unless it is an integral bracelet, because with this type of bracelet, the bracelet is actually attached to the watch face.  Whichever you choose, whether it is a bracelet or strap, the buckle is the way that you open that and there are various types of buckles in the watch anatomy.

Types of Buckles

Tang BuckleThere are two main types of buckles.  The tang or Ardillon buckle is a traditional buckle where one end of the strap is slipped through the buckle with a pin that is used to secure the fit of the watch.  You will only find this on a watch with a strap.  The other type of buckle is the deployment buckle.  This is a fold over clasp that can be found on either bracelets or straps.  With this type of buckle there are no holes in the strap and it is considered safer to wear because if it opens up then the watch is still attached to your wrist.

The deployment buckle can be single or double with a locking clasp or with a push button and there can also be a double locking fold over for the deployment buckle.  It seems in recent years, that most watch makers have been eliminating the Ardillon buckle from their watch anatomy.

The Watch Anatomy of the Strap, Bracelet & Buckle

No matter what you choose when it comes to the strap, bracelet or buckle it is a personal choice.  When you go watch shopping ask if you can get the watch you want with what you want, and by learning all about the watch anatomy now, you will be able to clearly tell whoever you are dealing with exactly what you are looking for.

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Sergio Nuncio About Sergio Nuncio

Sergio Nuncio has been a watch collector and buyer since he was 17 years old. His fascination with all things watches turned into a business he is passionate about and has extended into buying estate jewelry and diamonds. Join Sergio on his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter as he explores watches from Rolex to Panerai.