Those of us who covered the watch market before the renaissance in mechanical watchmaking in the late 1990s talked a lot about the basic design elements of a timepiece, including the strap. In the middle of that decade, the advent of rubber straps, brightly colored straps, over-stitched leather, padded leather (called bombé) and various other innovations were all story topics.
Today, the lowly strap is overshadowed by the wonders of complex case designs, space-age materials, new complications and openworked dials. We simply expect the straps to measure up, to be water-resistant, well-made, colorful when appropriate, and subdued when not.
I still notice the straps, and I think the ones on these five timepieces are noteworthy. Some because of the color: the perfectly dial-matched green of the rubber strap on the Richard Mille, for example. Or the complex stitching on the Montblanc and the Hublot (and how perfect the latter looks with the carbon fiber case). And you can’t beat the authentically distressed look of the Panerai Ceramica. The rubber strap on some of the pieces in the Harry Winston Ocean series is a fine example of what can be done to texture rubber straps.
Above: Hublot King Power Juventus de Turin, the watch of the Juventus football club, with carbon fiber case and white leather strap stitched onto black rubber, with a black leather strip in the center, inspired by the team’s graphic codes.
Harry Winston Ocean Dual Time Monochrome, with zalium case and black rubber strap with diamond point finish and Shuriken motif. With a self-winding movement and twin barrels, this is limited to 250 pieces.
Panerai Luminor GMT Ceramica with a black ceramic case and a strap that is “personalized” – distressed to look worn. The buckle is titanium with a hard black coating.
Montblanc TimeWalker Voyager UTC, with a GMT second time zone and date window at 6 o’clock. The case is stainless steel, with a black embossed calfskin strap with light blue stitching and steel pin buckle.
Richard Mille RM59-01 Johan Blake, a manual-winding tourbillon with bridges made of a green anodized aluminum alloy that is perfectly matched by the color in the green rubber strap. (It just wouldn’t look the same with a black rubber strap.)