The problem with Rolex:
There are a lot of things that Rolex does right. Rolex’s sapphire crystals with the tell-tale cyclops, tractor-like movements, and patented water tight cases are what define tool watches. Despite Rolex’s numerous patents and technical achievements, there are aspects that Rolex completely misses. Night visibility and the amount of lume on a Rolex watch face and hands is always a criticism, and the “tuna-can” like clasp and bracelet links that are truly utilitarian and rarely failed, but were frequently criticized when matched with other brands. Many now-vintage Rolex watches do not have the original bracelet as that was the first item to wear out. For decades Rolex’s glacier-like design changes and staying true to being “evolutionary” rather than be “revolutionary,” leaves a classic watch open for improvements.
When it comes to making a Rolex watch “better,” there are two categories for modifications. The first are modifications that clearly mimic the original Rolex such as modified dials and bezels, typically inlaid with diamonds, or a modified color to make the watch face look like an original that fetches a premium among collectors (e.g. Paul Newman Daytona dials). The second and more legitimate category is modifications clearly designed to improve upon Rolex’s design and provide the owner options that Rolex doesn’t. Options such as different watch straps and sapphire casebacks give the Rolex owner more functionality than what the original factory model provides. Just as how AMG has manufacturer approved modifications for Mercedes Benz, and the M series subsidiary for BMW, replacement strap and caseback companies provide functionality to Rolex that the user can install, but unlike the car modification companies, can switch these modifications back to factory on a whim.
So what’s the Issue?
The Rolex Oyster bracelet is one of the most durable and recognizable bracelets found on Swiss watches. Its trademark Oyster look is recognized around the globe and variations of it are seen on other watch brands. The Oyster bracelet is durable, but for sport watches, there are instances when the bracelet needs to give or stretch a little bit, or be lighter – similar to the comfort a leather strap possesses, as well as be waterproof. Under conditions when the weather is hot and there is heavy perspiration, a strap needs to give while the wrist expands under heat. This is where having a silicone strap that is impervious to ultra-violet light or breakage comes into play, and one of the reasons why many sport watches are outfitted with a silicone strap. Lastly, for athletes, wearing a stainless strap while running or cycling typically yields, well, for the lack of a better term, black sweat gunk comprised of dirt and perspiration that builds up under stainless bracelets. This black gunk only comes off with soap and water.