Rubber B Watch Straps for Rolex

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One way to bring a utility look & function to your Rolex

One of the areas that I have been always mixed about Rolex was the bracelet. For Rolex wearers who are physically active (eg. runners, cyclists) found that the stainless strap always left a black dirt marks on the wrist, as well as the watch required washing after each workout. Additionally, Rolex's utilization of polished center links (PCL's) on the GMT-C, Milgauss, Turn-O-Graph, and other updated Rolex models is a clear departure from the traditional brushed tool watch appearance.

Riding with a Rolex
Many Rolex wearers, including myself, had their PCL bracelets brushed to give the traditional tool watch look. Rolex wearers also make their watch sportier by installing nylon NATO or silicon watch straps. Each of these straps do not bring the bling or dirt collecting aspectsof the stainless Rolex bracelets, but they do bring disadvantages of their own with respects to strength and protecting the springbars that hold the watch.

Introducing Rubber B

In June 2011, I came across Rubber B watch straps on buddy Jake's Rolex Watch Magazine. These straps are specifically designed as a Rolex strap replacement that utilizes the existing Rolex clasp. Like many of the other replacement straps, the cheezy buckle did not match both the watch and Rolex's quality level.

Seeing that these straps address the shortcomings of other Rolex replacement straps, I ordered one from Rubber B in preparation for a rafting trip that I am taking to the Grand Canyon. In my last rafting trip to the Grand Canyon, the band on the Rolex GMT that I was wearing did show some slight pitting from the gritty Colorado River water. For this trip, I wanted a band that was strong enough for the 7 day trip. In looking at the website at www.rubberb.com, I went ahead and ordered a strap. I spoke with Rubber B, who explained (in English or fluent French, your preference) that these straps are made in Switzerland and are specifically designed for Rolex. Although the strap might be considered pricey for a "rubber" strap, Rubber B explained that the design work, testing, and quality are unmatched by any other manufacturer.


Rubber B for Rolex GMT

Rafting in the Grand Canyon

The problems with other replacement straps

Before explaining how Rubber B straps set themselves apart, we have to review the drawbacks of other watch straps.

Perhaps the most common strap replacement are the NATO style watch straps. NATO's are easy to install, and if a springbar pops, the watch head is still held to the strap by the other spingbar.

NATO on Rolex GMT


The drawback with NATO's are two-fold. First, the watch strap looks unfinished around the watch head, and it is obvious that the strap is not made for Rolex.

NATO on Rolex GMT
  NATO straps leave the serial number exposed and the strap looks unfinished.
The other drawbacks with NATO are that they leave the springbar exposed with no support. The original military Submariners that were designed for NATO straps had solid, permanent springbars. Fitting a NATO on traditional springbars leaves the springbars unsupported, and one of the reasons why Rolex moved to using a solid end-link on the Oyster straps to keep the springbar supported. An unsupported springbar can pop out if pushed correctly in the center. Some Rolex wearers report that the NATO strap leaves a mark on the stainless caseback. NATO on Rolex

Another option is to use a silicon rubber strap. Silicon straps are extremely comfortable and pliable, easy to clean, don't leave black marks that comes with sweat, but they bring the same problems as NATO insofar as leaving the springbars unsupported. Subsequently, if a springbar pops, the two piece strap will not save the watch. Additionally, silicon rubber becomes less durable with use and sunlight. Silicon straps also make the strap unfinished around the watch head like the NATOs.

Rubber Strap on Rolex GMT

Omega utilizes a silicon strap on their SeaMasters that is countoured around the watch head. These straps look appealing for Rolex, but the Omega straps have a pin that protrudes into the watch head, which Rolex does not accommodate. Without the pin, the strap will not fit flush onto the watch head and just pivot around the springbar.

Omega Seamaster Strap on Rolex

How Rubber B is Different

Benjamin at Rubber B developed these straps because he wanted a strap that complemented Rolex, fit correctly, and that he could take into the salt water surrounding Florida which he could not do with his leather strapped Rolex Daytona. Rubber B straps are made in Switzerland (not China), and took over 18 months to develop. Rubber B explained that there was much trial and error in the design phase as Rubber B wanted the strap to fit perfect and look like a perfect accompaniment for a Rolex watch.

There are two standout points with these straps. First, these straps are vulcanized. Vulcanization is what gives a bicycle inner-tube its strength and elasticity, which is different from a bicycle tire where the shape stays static. The difference is obvious. Rubber B's vulcanization prevents over stretching to the point of failure, and more importantly, breaking.

Rubber B for Rolex
The second difference is that the strap end has a solid end link that is ground to fit the Rolex watch head precisely. Furthermore, the springbar hole aligns with the watch head's springbar seat exactly. A hole that is 0.5MM out of spec would render the band useless. Rubber B's solid end link also has a lip that fits on the underside of the watch head to keep the band flush with the watch head and not spin around the springbar, unlike the Omega band. Rubber B for Rolex

About the Rubber B Strap

Rubber B Shipping Envelope Rubber B for Rolex
I ordered a Rubber B strap for my GMT - C. The order arrived wrapped in a nice envelope in protective packaging.
The strap comes in two pieces and this particular one is designed for the GMT-C clasp. I ordered black to compliment the black face and bezel. (Note: Pictured right is the legacy M102 strap; an M103 with shorter 6:00 o'clock side is available now.) Notice in the images below how the Rubber B strap has the same contour and profile as the Oyster bands. Benjamin explained that this is one of the aspects that required many prototypes to get correct and one of the reason why the band required 18 months to design. Unwrapped Rubber B Strap

I have a little larger than a 6.5" / 165mm wrist. Normally on my Oyster bracelet, I have five links on both sides of the bracelet.

Compared with the Rubber B strap, the 6:00 o'clock side is a little longer on the legacy M102 strap, but the extra length can be adjusted by removing the serrated sections on the 12:00 o'clock side. Benjamin shared that a shorter 6:00 o'clock side is now part of the newer M103 strap that is available now.

Comparison of Rubber B and Rolex GMT bracelet

Update:The photo shows the M103 strap (right) and the older M102 strap (left) and the M103 is a full link shorter than the legacy M102.

Rubber B and Rolex

I was hoping to use the strap with my 16710 traditional GMT, but the hollow-link Oyster bracelet with tuna can clasp is setup differently. I only have four links on the 6:00 o'clock side and the Rubber B strap is significantly longer. Rubber B suggests in situations such as this is to flip the strap around.

Nonetheless, once I cut the strap for my GMT-C, I will not be able to use it on the GMT- T (16710) watch unless I use the GMT-C clasp.

GMT- T Rubber B Comparison

Installing a Rubber B Strap

Most Rolex wearers can install the strap at home with the appropriate tools. If you do not have a Bergeon Springbar tool 6111 they are relatively inexpensive. Be sure to get one with the small fork. I use a Bergeon 6825 tool for removing bracelets but this particular tool is not required. More information on springbar tools can be found here.

Also needed is a razor blade, masking tape, and a 1.8mm screwdriver. I use the SeaDweller screwdriver for Rolex bracelet screws as it fits the best.

Install Tools for Rubber B
First, remove the springbar inside the Rolex clasp using the Bergeon 6111 springbar tool. Remove Rolex pin
After separating the bracelet from the clasp, mask off the lug with masking tape. Line up the straight edge of the tape with the edge of the lug. The masking tape or electrical tape will help prevent tell-tale springbar scratches. Others have reported that electrical tape works better than masking tape. Tape Lugs

Using the Bergeon 6111 took, carefully slide the springbar shoulder inward while slightly pushing down on the springbar. Slight downward pressure will keep the tool onto the springbar and allow the springbar to drop into the case and not slide back into the hole.

* If the springbar does not want to slide easily, spray a little dry silicon spray onto the springbar. I find that a little dry silicon spray makes sliding the springbar much easier.

slide springbar

Be careful while sliding the springbar shoulder inward. After releasing the springbar from the case, repeat the same procedure on the other springbar.

There is definately a trick to releasing the springbar from both sides. Sometimes, while sliding the springbar on one side of the case, the other side slips back in. Slight downward pressure on the springbar while sliding it out will help prevent what I call the "see-saw" effect.

slide springbar
With the Bergeon 6825 tool, squeeze both sides equally insuring that the springbar is fully compressed together. Once compressed, back the watch head away from the solid end link (SEL). Keep the end link stationary while sliding the watch head away from the band. Start

And the reason why this is my favorite tool. It easily removes the Rolex solid end link without any scratches, and subsequent swear words that typically come with the Bergeon 6111 tool.

*I have discovered that a little dry silicon spray makes removing / reinstalling the springbar much easier. Just spray a little into the springbar before removing and prior to reinstallation.

Before thinking about cutting the strap to fit, be sure to fit the watch strap to the watch head first. Mask the underside of the watch head, and slide the springbar into the band. The springbar slides perfectly into the end link, unlike other silicon/rubber watch bands. Align the band into the watch head, and carefully slide the springbar back into its hole. Once one side is in, repeat with the other side. The springbar should snap in without too much redirection. It is this step that shows the Rubber B's quality. The watch hole out of spec here would render the band useless. Install the Rubber B
Rolex GMT with Rubber B Installed Rubber B
Once installed, repeat with the other side. The band fits both the GMT-T (left) and the GMT-C (right) as if they were meant to be that way out of the Rolex factory.
Once the band is installed on the watch head, re-attach to the Rolex clasp without any cutting. Fit the strap using the first hole in the bracelet clasp cover to make the strap the shortest. If it is obvious that the strap is too long, cut the strap in the serrated grooves with a razor blaze. Do this one cut at a time with the springbar installed in the strap. Keep the strap as long as possible to accommodate adjustments later on for hot weather. Cutting Rubber B to Fit
Voila Cleaned with Veraet
With the M103 strap, the clasp sits flat on the wrist. To insure that the clasp lies flat, I gently heated the strap with a disposable lighter to bend the strap around the clasp hinge, which did the trick. Use a lighter *very* gingerly. Rubber B indicated that the strap will naturally conform to your wrist with time. RubberB and Rolex
The tabs on the underside of the watch feel undistinguishable when worn. Because of the raised caseback profile, the band tabs hide underneath and keep the band sitting flush onto the watch head. Installed Backside

How it Wears

After wearing Rolex Oyster straps for over 20 years, this strap is certainly different. The strap feels rugged, looks great, and does not stretch, bend, or crack like the typical silicon straps. The Rubber B strap does not slide around like Oyster straps. I did find the strap a little tight because it did not conform like an Oyster bracelet, but after heating it to conform to my wrist, it wears much better.

Rubber B shared that the M103 is available with a shorter 6:00 o'clock side available for smaller wrists (like mine), as well as a longer 12:00 o'clock side for wrists larger than 8". Other colors such as orange, red, and Army tan will be available as well.

Rubber B has certainly hit the mark on producing a quality strap designed for Rolex utilizing the original Rolex bracelet clasp. Using any other type of clasp, looks well, like a cheap Rolex knock-off clasp. This strap looks good, wears well, and has a tough bullet-proof feel and will certainly fit the bill for the Grand Canyon trip.


Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon 2011


In July 2011, I took my GMT-C along with a Rubber B strap to spend 7 days on the Grand Canyon floor. I chose to take a Rubber B because on an earlier two day trip four years ago, I noticed pitting in the clasp from the post-monsoon rain gritty Colorado River water. On this trip, both the GMT-C and the strap weathered the trip just fine. Starting from the top left going clockwise:
  • Short runway turbo-prop plane that took us to Lees Ferry the head-end of the trip,
  • The Grand Canyon floor on a typical morning,
  • A view of Marble Canyon (upper Grand Canyon) cutting into the Arizona desert viewed from the plane on the flight into Lees Ferry
  • The helicopter that takes use out of the Grand Canyon at the Bar-10 Ranch seven days into the trip,
  • Lower Deer Creek Falls
  • A typical riffle (small rapid),
  • Upper Deer Creek Falls
  • Wading in waist high water to Mohawk Canyon Falls with my GMT shown on my wrist
  • Random shot at one of the many picturesque stops in the Grand Canyon.
If you have not spent any time on a raft at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, it is definitely worth putting on your bucket list. Although I have now spend time at the bottom of the canyon on two occasions, I see myself going for a third time. Taking the strap to the Grand Canyon was a good choice as the gritty Colorado River water does have a tendency to get things gummed up. The camera that shot these images was dried over the evening camp stove on two occasions, and the ceramic bezel on the GMT-C did not rotate very smoothly. Unlike the my traditional GMT (16710) worn on an earlier Grand Canyon trip, the grit easily washed out after running it in clean tap water at the hotel after the trip ended. The Rubber B strap did have a little less sheen after the trip, but a little Armor All cleaned the strap such that it looked like new. I also learned that the Cartier Cleaning Gel for Cartier rubber strap watches also makes the strap look as good as new. Also, the watch lume glowed all night after being in Arizona sunlight all day. There was no problem reading the watch at night as the hands and the dial glowed very brightly.

Veraet released a strap cleaner for both leather and rubber straps. According to the Veraet website, "Body salts and oils often damage straps when not cared for properly. " I have never experienced a failed rubber strap, but I do certainly notice when the strap does get dirty and dull.

I have used other rubber strap cleaners from both Cartier and, well, Armor All, and the Veraet Rubber & Leather Care works well for restoring the "new" look without the mess that Armor All brings to the strap.

More information on the cleaner is posted here.

Veraet Leather & Rubber Cleaner

Updated Rubber B with Carbon Fiber for Rolex DSSD & Glidelock

RubberB for Rolex DSSD

After spending time wearing the Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller (DSSD), I decided to obtain a Rubber B strap.  My last Rubber B strap was a successful experience on my GMT-C so I thought a Rubber B for the DSSD was in order. 

RubberB for Rolex DSSD

This particular Rubber B strap has three different design characteristics that separate it from the standard Rubber B strap shown above. 

RubberB for Rolex DSSD

The first significant difference between the original Rubber B and the model designed for the DSSD is that the newer version is designed for an Oysterlock clasp.  Rather than selecting a large or small size strap, then cutting the strap to fit as is the procedure for the older Rubber B's, the Carbon DSSD strap is available in specific lengths such that the strap utilizes the bracelet screws on an Oyster clasp.  The biggest advantage is that there are not any extra adjustment holes in the strap and the strap can be fitted precisely.

RubberB for Rolex DSSD

The second significant difference is that the strap end links are not based on the same lug profile as the original Oyster bracelet.  With the DSSD strap, the edge of the strap flares to the outside of the case, creating a seamless line from the side of the case to the bracelet clasp. 

The rubber is thick, substantial, and does not flap around partially due to the "strength infusion technology" described below.

RubberB for Rolex DSSD
RubberB for Rolex DSSD
RubberB for Rolex DSSD RubberB for Rolex DSSD
The newer Rubber B end link design creates a smooth line from the side of the case to the clasp making it appear that the strap is specifically designed for the DSSD (which it is) and not a watchstrap bought at the local Kmart.   The strap lengths are purchased in sizes based on the number of links the DSSD Oyster bracelet had when fitted to the owner's wrist.  The strap on the left is designed to replace five (5) links, and the strap on the right is designed to replace four (4) links. The Rubber B website has a chart showing which corresponding length to purchase.
Like other Rubber B straps, the end link is designed to fit a Rolex exactly, and the carbon infused Rubber B for DSSD is no different.  The solid end link molded inside the strap slides seamlessly into the watch lugs as smoothly as the original stainless 904L end link.  The springbars are well protected  from being bent, and there is plenty of space for a springbar tool for easy Rubber B strap removal. RubberB for Rolex DSSD
Also separating this strap from other vulcanized rubber straps, including other Rubber B straps, is the Strength Infusion Technology whereby “carbon fiber molecules” are fused inside the strap during the vulcanization process increasing lateral and vertical strength, something needed for a heavy watch such as the DSSD.  I don’t really notice the strap being any more stiff with carbon molecules than the original Rubber B, but Rubber B indicates that the carbon is necessary to keep the strap strong for a heavy watch. RubberB for Rolex DSSD
Rubber B shared that Strength Infused Technology was initially designed for Richard Mille's RM11 wrist watch. The RM11 incorportes thin, louvered slats that would have been too soft and floppy for a normal vulcanized strap. Carbon fiber is infused into the rubber to reinforce the strap making the louvers much stiffer. According to Rubber B, the infusion is at a molecular level invisible to the human eye. This process is also used by Chanel on their J12 Black Ceramic Marine watch. Looking at the strap intricacies on the RM11 and J12 Marine shown below illustrate the need for stronger, but not necessarily stiffer rubber strap.
Rolex Rubber B - Richard Mille R11 Rolex Rubber B Chanel

Both the Richard Mille RM11 (left) and the Chanel J12 Marine (above) utilize Strength Infused Technology in their rubber straps.

After wearing a Rubber B strap for a couple of weeks, I can safely say that a Rubber B strap makes the Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller a different watch to wear. The Rubber B strap prevents the DSSD from sliding around like a stainless Oyster strap does. Rubber B's rounded strap edges make the strap comfortable to wear. The Rubber B strap is easily adjusted because it incorporates Rolex’s stellar Glidelock clasp, and the rubber does give and flex somewhat when needed.  The Rubber B black strap picks up the matte black finish and black bezel insert making it appear that this strap belongs to any DeepSea SeaDweller  Every DSSD wearer should consider wearing a Rubber B strap as part of the Rolex DeepSea SeaDweller wearing experience.    

Rolex Oysterflex
After the popularity of rubber straps installed on Rolex watches, Rolex introduced a rubber "bracelet" on the latest Everrose Yachtmaster. Rolex considers Oysterflex a bracelet because of the titanium insert inside the strap that is "overmoulded" with elastomer. Additionally, there is a solid tube to reinforce the springbar holding the strap to the case. Like Rubber B, the strap sides are available in various sizes as there are no links to remove to adjust the strap.