Vintage Metal Watch Bands

These days, watch buyers feel a bit overwhelmed when they have to choose metal watch bands. The reason is simple: there are numerous options to choose from. However, there are several classic options that have always been popular. This post is about vintage metal watch bands.

Some of these bands are associated with specific brands, and some of them are not. In the fascinating world of watches, all of these bands have been able to maintain their status. If you are a watch collector, you are probably familiar with some of them. Let’s take a look at the bands.

The Bonklip

This band was developed in the 1930s, and the British military began to use it just after World War II—in the 1960s. These stainless steel bands were mass-produced in a short period of time, and soon they became wildly popular, partly because of their easy adjustability.

If you look at the history of stainless steel bands, you will notice that the Bonklip is one of the first successful ones. In the earlier years, Rolex watches were sold without bracelets. But in the 1930s, Bonklips were sold with Rolex watches. Bonklips are now sold separately and watch enthusiasts are familiar with the brand.

The Jubilee

In 1945, Rolex celebrated its 40th anniversary and introduced this bracelet. In the world of watches, this bracelet has become ubiquitous. Throughout the years, it has not changed much. Initially, the Jubilee watch band was available in Gold only. Steel versions were offered later. After that, many sports models are paired with this band. It looks dressy.

Although it is often compared with Oyster, most enthusiasts think that it is marred better than Oyster.  Now let’s learn a bit about Oyster.

The Oyster

The Oyster bracelet was patented in 1947, by Rolex. In the 20th century, it was one of the iconic bracelets. Throughout the years, it underwent many iterations, and now it is among the best vintage metal watch bands. It began with riveted links. Then came folded links. The present form, solid links, came much later. 

Throughout the decades, the design of the clasp evolved significantly. As a result, the bracelet is perfectly attached to the wrist. No matter what type of activities you engage in, be it scuba diving or sporting activities, you will never have to worry about the bracelet falling from the wrist. 

The Beads of Rice

Over the years, this bracelet has been produced by many companies. But Gay Freres is particularly associated with this band. In the 1950s, Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe got the supply from Gay Freres. 

Many versions of this band were produced by Gay Freres. The versions included bands for Pilot watches, sport versions, and dress watches. Today, you can easily find both modern and vintage versions of this watch band. The vintage version is one of the best vintage metal watch bands today. Watch manufacturers have long been fascinated with the Beads of Rice.

The Milanese

The history of this bracelet can be traced back to the 19th century. The band was first manufactured in Milan, Italy. In the 20th century, it was manufactured in Germany. Both tools and dress watches were paired with this band. It was quite popular in the 1940s. Then, in the 1970s, it saw a new level of popularity.

Shark Mesh, a heavier form, was introduced in the same decade. This bracelet remains highly popular to this date with watch enthusiasts. Later, Apple Watch has also been paired with this band.

The Ladder

The design was first premiered at the Zenith El Primero, and it is a Gay Freres design. In this band, between the links, there are spaces. As a result, the band looks very much like a ladder. It is one of the popular Zenith designs.

There are few vintage watch bands that are as iconic as this one. There was a time when most expensive watches were paired with bands similar to this one. One of the most iconic vintage metal watchbands, the Ladder will make you happy.  

The Royal Oak Bracelet

This bracelet is made of steel, and it was specifically manufactured for the use of the Audemars Piguet, Royal Oak. Gay Freres provided the design for the original development. The bracelet soon became an icon.

Four years later, a similar design was launched by Patek Philippe. Gerald Genta, a famous watch designer, designed both the watches. Precious metals such as gold and platinum are now used to manufacture the bracelet. However, steel and two-tone versions are also available. Both are vintage metal watchbands, and both are decently popular.

Shinola 24mm Stainless Steel Bracelet

If you loot at any list of vintage metal watchbands, you will most likely find this bracelet. This amazing watch band is not only visually appealing but also extremely durable. If you use this watch strap, people around you will pay attention to it.

It comes with a butterfly clasp that is very smooth and very easy to use. Unlike cheaper options, the clasp does not jam. The sheen will remain intact, thanks to the polished and brushed steel. The weight is not too much, but it is not too light either. It is also important to notice that this band is not cheap; it is a premium pick.

Steel Mesh

During the 1940s, Steel Mesh watch bands were hugely popular. Those were the early days, and there were few competitors of this band. The bands became slightly less popular in the following years but grew in popularity again in the 1970s. Since then, Steel Mesh has been able to maintain its decent popularity.

Without Steel Mesh, a list of vintage metal watch bands is incomplete. “Shark Mesh” and “Milanese” are two of its varieties. While Shark Mesh is loose and chunky, Milanese is tight and fine. If you are using a slim and dressy watch, you should get Shark Mesh. And if you are using a dive watch, Milanese is a better option.  

President

The name came from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1956, Rolex offered a chronometer to the president. It was a token of respect. The president gladly accepted the gift. This watch band has a similarity with the Oyster, especially in terms of the widths of the links. However, in terms of the number of links, it is significantly denser.

The band has no issue with stiffness, but it is not very durable. But it is not a great concern, because the band barely has any breakpoint. After extensive wear, you may notice a little bit of stretching. But it will certainly not happen in a short period of time.

Conclusion

There are numerous brands of metal watch bands. But if you just consider vintage metal watchbands, there are not really many options. We have discussed some of the best ones that have remained popular over the decades. If you choose any of these bands, you will not be sorry for your choice.

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