Rolex watches come in a wide variety of designs and functions, sizes and materials – and many series have become iconic. However, not only the collections but also their bracelets have found devoted admirers. Initially, most Rolex bracelets were developed for specific models. Today, Rolex customers have the option of choosing different straps for their selected model. To give you a better overview of the available options, we present a detailed overview of the different Rolex bracelet types below.
Rolex bracelets at a glance
The Rolex Oyster braceletThe Oyster bracelet is probably the oldest Rolex bracelet apart from the leather strap, but was not originally created by the company itself. Before creating its own bracelets, Rolex had the famous manufacturer Gay Frères supply it with high-quality watch bracelets. There were two reasons for this: In the early days of the wristwatch, it was uncommon for watchmakers to sell their timepieces with mass-produced bracelets. Instead, people bought the wristband separately. In the past, the price of a special bracelet could be half the value of the timepiece itself. Moreover, with Gay Frères, Rolex did not use just any supplier, but the most renowned manufacturer of metal watch bracelets. The second reason again shows Rolex's commitment to using only the best products and materials for its timepieces.
The design of the Gay Frères bracelets anticipated much of what was later to be appreciated about the Rolex Oyster bracelet. It is a three-piece link metal bracelet with wide, flat elements that has a particularly robust and sporty look. It was introduced in the late 1930s and patented in 1947. Initially, the Oyster bracelet came with straight lugs, but a few years after it was patented, the hollow, curved "flush-fit" end links were presented, which perfectly fitted the case. It was only decades later, around the turn of the century, that the solid end links, which are still in use today, appeared.
The Oyster bracelet can be combined with all Rolex clasps. However, the Oysterlock clasp equipped with a safety bar is particularly popular. Especially sporty models like the Submariner or the Explorer are fitted with the solid Oyster bracelet, but also more classic models such as the Datejust, the Daytona or the Sky-Dweller come with this popular Rolex steel bracelet. Due to its versatility, this Rolex bracelet is suitable for men and women.
The Rolex Jubilee braceletThe Jubilee bracelet from Rolex, which appeared in 1945, is just as iconic and popular as the Oyster bracelet. Originally developed for the Oyster Perpetual Datejust, it now appears on other models in the Oyster collection as well and is worn by both men and women. The visual appearance of the five-piece link metal bracelet is characterised by flowing contours, and it is equipped with either an elegant concealed Crownclasp or an Oysterclasp. It is considered particularly comfortable and elegant.
The Rolex President braceletThe President bracelet was introduced in 1956 with the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date. It is still almost exclusively used for this model, with the exception of some versions of the Datejust in precious metals which also come with the iconic Rolex presidential bracelet. It is made only of precious metals and always equipped with a concealed Crownclasp. The three-piece link bracelet is visually distinguished by the semi-circular shaped links giving it a particularly harmonious appearance. In the United States, the Day-Date is most commonly known as "Rolex President", a reference to the bracelet and the long list of presidents who have worn this luxury watch.
The Rolex Pearlmaster braceletAnother Rolex watch band that became famous with one particular model is the Pearlmaster bracelet, which was launched in 1992 along with the eponymous watch series. Today, the famous bracelet is not only available on Rolex Pearlmaster ladies' wristwatches, but also on special versions of the Datejust and Day-Date. Similar to the Jubilee bracelet, the Pearlmaster watch bracelet also consists of five-piece links – but unlike the Jubilee bracelet, its links are rounded. The flowing design and the concealed Crownclasp make the bracelet look particularly elegant and discreet, turning it into the ideal Rolex bracelet for women.
The Rolex Oysterflex strapThe latest Rolex strap came onto the market in 2015 and was presented on the Yacht-Master: the robust Oysterflex strap. The characteristic feature of the sporty-looking watch band is the highly elastic metal blade covered in black elastomer. In addition to the high wearing comfort, the strap has a particularly stable fit on the wrist, which is ensured by special pads attached to the inside. The sporty-looking Rolex rubber strap is also equipped with a secure Oysterlock safety clasp, making it just as reliable as any metal bracelet.
Rolex watches with a leather strapEven though stainless steel bracelets are much more common on Rolex models than leather watch straps, the latter should not go unmentioned. The first wristwatches produced by Rolex were almost exclusively fitted with a leather strap – usually equipped with a luxurious folding clasp. Even today, there is a wide range of fine Rolex leather straps to choose from. For example, not only Cellini watches, but also some models of the Rolex Day-Date come with a leather strap.
The bracelets in detail: Dimensions and number of links
Especially when buying a second-hand luxury watch online, the question of whether the chosen wristwatch will fit is very important. Apart from the precise adjustment of the clasp, the number of bracelet links is a crucial factor. It is often possible to remove or add Rolex links to adjust the length of the bracelet to perfectly fit the circumference of the wrist. But what if the previous owner of the watch has already done this and now, in the worst case, you are missing one or more links?
How many links does a Rolex come with?In general, it is helpful to know how many individual links a Rolex bracelet consists of and how these links can be counted properly. Counting the links is quite simple: Just count all the links except for the lugs, the extension clasp (Easylink or Glidelock) and the half-link in the clasp.
By counting the links of Rolex Oyster bracelets this way, you will find that most of them consist of an average of 13 links. However, this number varies between eleven and 15 links. Current Submariner models such as the ref. 126613LB or the ref. 126610LN, for example, come with eleven and a half links when they leave the factory. As part of the Oyster bracelet's overhaul, one of the links was removed and replaced by a half-link in the clasp. A complete Jubilee bracelet features 22 links – without counting the end links. The prestigious President bracelet of a Day-Date also has a total of 22 links, not counting the two end links. The Pearlmaster bracelet comes with a total of twelve links.
|Bracelet type||Bracelet reference||Number of links||Width||Extension||Example|
|Oyster||77210||12 (of which 6 are removable)||21 mm||5 mm (Oysterlock, Easylink)||Explorer II (ref. 216570)|
|President||83208||22 (of which 7 are removable)||20 mm||No (Crownclasp)||Day-Date (ref. 118238)|
|Jubilee||63600||22 (of which 7 are removable)||20 mm||No (Crownclasp)||Datejust 36 (Ref. 116234)|
|Pearlmaster||72845||12 (of which 3 are removable)||17 mm||No (Crownclasp)||Pearlmaster (ref. 81315)|
The different bracelet clasps by Rolex
Every Rolex bracelet comes equipped with a matching clasp. Depending on the model, these may have other additional features apart from serving as a fastening system. For example, some Rolex clasps enable the bracelet to extend by several centimetres in just a few seconds without the need for tools. Other clasps are integrated into the bracelet in such a way that they are virtually invisible and can only be identified by a small crown emblem. These bracelet clasps blend in elegantly and harmoniously with the overall design of the watch and fade completely into the background.
Here is a summary of the various clasp types that are currently available in a table.
|Oysterclasp system||Sporty bracelet clasp that opens via a lever|
|Oysterlock clasp||Security clasp with an additional clasp to protect against accidental deployment|
|Crownclasp system||Elegant, concealed clasp in the style of the corresponding bracelet (Jubilee or President), only recognizable by the applied Rolex crown)|
|Pin buckle||Classic clasp for leather bracelets|
|Pearlmaster clasp||Clasp designed exclusively for the Pearlmaster Collection that discreetely blends into the bracelet's design|
The different types of clasps can also be equipped with a variety of locking systems. For example, models like the Submariner (ref. 116613LB) are equipped with an Oysterlock safety clasp and the Glidelock system. It's recommended to take a closer look at the clasp on your personal Rolex, because you might be surprised by an additional feature.
|The easiest way to extend the bracelet by three extra fold-out links|
|Bracelet can be extended by up to 20 mm (and in the case of the Deepsea, by an additional 26 mm using additional Fliplock links) by means of sliders|
|Bracelet can be extended by up to 5 mm using a fold-out half-link|
You will notice whether the folding clasp of your Rolex is securely closed in that it can no longer be opened easily and makes a clearly audible click upon closing. Of course, the pin buckles on the Rolex leather straps are an exception in this respect.
Overview of serial numbers for Rolex claspsThe following is an overview of known clasp codes and their years of production, so you can check whether the clasp matches the production year of your watch or was replaced during servicing. The clasp codes can be found on the inside of the clasp as well as on the end links of a bracelet, as well as occasionally on other parts of the bracelet, and do not provide any information about the type of clasp.
The majority of Rolex' clasp codes are composed of one or two letters and a number between 1 and 12. The letter refers to the year of production, while the number at the end provides information about the respective month of production. As is often the case with Rolex' systems, all information is compiled to the best of our knowledge and belief, but we cannot guarantee that it is completely accurate.
|Production year||Clasp code||Production year||Clasp code|
|1993||R||Since 2011||Arbitrary three-digit combinations|
In 2011, Rolex changed their numbering system for clasp serial numbers by switching to an arbitrary three-digit code consisting of numbers, letters, or a combination of numbers and letters. Since these combinations don't appear to follow any pattern, the new clasp codes no longer provide any information about the year of production of a given timepiece.
How do I change a bracelet?
Would you like to change the bracelet on your Rolex? Whether from Jubilee to Oyster or vice versa, Rolex bracelets can be interchanged as desired, just like with almost any other wristwatch. To do this, first, open the bracelet by carefully loosening the screw on one of the bracelet's links to more easily access the lugs. Be sure to keep the screw in a safe place, because due to its small size, it's possible to lose this quickly.
Next, take a suitable tool for changing a Rolex bracelet, ideally "spring bar pliers", and set the correct width using the screws on the pliers. Then, on the underside of the lugs, insert the pliers into the provided recesses and press the spring bar together on both sides. This may take a few tries. Be careful not to scratch the lugs during this process. Once the bracelet is released, repeat the process on the other side, but before doing so, be sure to close the detached wristband again so as not to lose the screw that was removed.
Likewise, place the spring bars in a safe place, for example in a small plastic bag with a zip seal, because the pins from Rolex bracelets are different and cannot be interchanged 1:1 with others. This is why it's best to store them together with the bracelet. To install the new bracelet, proceed as follows: open the bracelet, mount the lugs onto the case using the spring bar pliers and then close the bracelet. When screwing it together, be sure to tighten the screw firmly, but not too tightly because it is possible to cause damage by overtightening.
Furthermore, it is also important to make sure that the bracelet is fitted in the correct direction. The Rolex crown should point left toward the bracelet's clasp when looking at the underside of your left wrist, or to the right on the right wrist.