Watch rubber strap has unlimited potential in the future

- Apr 03, 2019-

There is a saying in the jewelry industry that diamonds last forever. In the watchmaking industry, it is no exaggeration to say that metal chains (mainly gold, steel, titanium and platinum) enjoy a similar reputation. But this is not entirely accurate. In recent years, rubber watchband has been developing continuously, and its high added value has made it catch up with metal chain belt. In terms of strength, durability, creativity, performance and even development cost, rubber is becoming more and more valuable materials.




In the surface world, no one can deny Biwi's central role in the gradual change of rubber. The family company in Glovelier, Switzerland, has won the respect of well-known brands in the industry. It seems prudence is one of its key attributes. We don't know the main brands Biwi supplies. But RICHARD MILLE Richard Mill has been building fruitful partnerships with the company, including transparent rubber straps, which took two years to develop.




In the surface world, no one can deny Biwi's central role in the gradual change of rubber. The family company in Glovelier, Switzerland, has won the respect of well-known brands in the industry. It seems prudence is one of its key attributes. We don't know the main brands Biwi supplies. But RICHARD MILLE Richard Mill has been building fruitful partnerships with the company, including transparent rubber straps, which took two years to develop.




Another major feature of rubber is its close connection with automotive tyres, which is also applicable to almost all watchmaking brands that seek inspiration from the automotive world. Chopard Chopin is a pioneer in this field. The most representative example is the strap with the same profile as Dunlop tires in the 1960s. At that time, Dunlop tyres were regarded as the best tyres on the market. Karl Scheufele (father of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele) used them in his car collection. In 1995, Chopard Chopin decided to recreate the fashion of the times with the Mille Miglia series.




Watch rubber strap has unlimited potential in the future




Two years later, another Geneva manufacturer, Patek Philippe, put this idea into practice. The brand specially designed the famous "Tropical" strap for Aquanaut watches. The development of this watch strap takes more than a year and requires several specific steps in manufacturing, using a variety of machines, including 150 tons of press.




The latest example of tire-strap fusion




The latest example of tire-strap integration comes from Roger Duppy. As part of the collaboration, Roger Dupper made a watch strap from the tires of the Pei Nile racing car. In this very unique series, each watch corresponds to Pirelli's seven famous color matching schemes. The series even includes an Excalibur Spider Pirelli Sottozero wristwatch with titanium alloy studs, which echoes the famous Snow Tire of Pirelli.




Rubber watchband is developing rapidly, but in view of its novelty, there is still a lot of room for exploration. One possibility is to add fluorescent materials; the other possibility is to develop a robust ultra-thin rubber strap, just like an ultra-thin wristwatch, in terms of strength and thickness. For example, RICHARD MILLE straps can withstand 20 kg of traction.




Ultimately, there is no doubt that the chain will follow another major trend: customization. We can expect to see some of the colors that have not yet been found in the common palettes of brands (depending on the customer's needs), more or less special materials embedded (Saint Bart's sand, Havana's cigar leaves, UAE crude oil), and unprecedented shapes (such as rubber cuffs). The prospect is very broad, but temporarily the production of rubber straps is still in the hands of subcontractors. Increasing relevance may change the status quo, and we may see related mergers and acquisitions in the future.