Why design takes us so long

We spent most of last summer designing, refining, and redesigning our first rubber strap, so we thought we'd explain why we take our time to design a component that looks straightforward.

A lot of brands look through a silicone strap catalogue, pick something, and just ask the vendor to mould their logo into it, laser-etch the buckle, and call it theirs. Job done. Nice and cheap, nice and easy.

But that wouldn't be an EB strap. It would just be a strap with an EB logo on it. We wanted to design one that was our own. And this is the result; a rubber strap with a rare level of detail and thought.

After spending a long time investigating all the different materials that we could use, we chose a rubber called EPDM that feels very natural to wear and isn't sticky, unlike silicone - the material that most 'rubber' straps are made from. EPDM is also hypo-allergenic and resistant to seawater, ozone, and UV; important considerations for EB customers.

We also took the time to mould the ends so the strap fit perfectly up to our cases, just like our leather straps, and then reinforced the ends internally with custom moulded nylon inserts, to prevent the strap-bar tearing through the rubber.

To make it as comfortable as possible to wear, it tapers from 22mm wide at the watch to 20mm at the buckle, so it's not too wide under your wrist, and from 4mm thick at the watch to 3mm at the buckle to make it as flexible and comfortable as possible whilst still remaining tough and durable.

After a lot of research, we decided on an overall length that fits the average diameter wrist with the least amount of excess strap sticking out. We could have made it longer, so that it fitted 'everyone', but that would have meant that for average (or smaller) wrists, there would be a lot of excess strap sticking out, which we loathed.

We don't think a strap should be a brand billboard (we're looking at you, Breitling...), so we moulded a debossed, subtle, EB logo along one edge of the outside of one half the strap, and an EB shield inside, and that's it. Nice and subtle. The upper edges of the strap are chamfered at 45 degrees from halfway up the shoulder of the watch all the way to the tip, to soften the silhouette against your wrist and make it easier to slide your watch under your cuff without it getting snagged.

Inside the strap, we could just have used the usual wiggly lines, which would have worked well enough, but we wanted to do something a little more 'EB', so we re-drew a set of contour lines from Tyneham Cap, a hill near Kimmeridge - one of our favourite villages on the isle of Purbeck - and moulded those into the strap, complete with the spot heights, to help the strap flex and keep water from getting trapped next to your skin.

In order to let the strap sit perfectly naturally on your wrist when it's buckled up, the holes for the buckle-tongue aren't vertical but instead are moulded at the same angle as the tongue, so there's zero pressure on the tongue, allowing the buckle and the strap to fit naturally. More complicated to design, and more difficult to CNC when you're machining the mould, but a worthwhile detail.

Even the keepers didn't escape our attention. The keeper nearest the buckle is kept in place by small shoulders on the outside edge of the strap, and to stop the other sliding off the end of the strap, the tip of the strap has a tapered ramp that allows the strap to slide through the keeper but not slide off. And every edge of both keepers has been carefully chamfered at 45 degrees so there are no corners or edges to get caught on anything.

The buckle was designed and revised four times before we were happy with the overall design and the specific curve that enables the buckle to meet the strap perfectly when it's buckled up. The buckle is secured to the strap with a screw-in pin, not a spring-bar, and we increased the diameter of the strap around the pin to add extra strength. The sides of the buckle have a subtle crosshatch texture to make it easier to hold when you're removing your watch, and it's finished off with a subtle, deep-etched EB logo.

It took a lot of time to get right, but we think it was worth it. We wore the prototypes all-day every day for six months, and this is our new favourite strap. Comfy, durable, great for messing around in the water, and looks every bit as smart as a leather strap.

Available in black, gunmetal grey, white, dark blue, olive drab, and vintage orange, with beadblasted gunmetal grey, beadblasted matt black, or brushed 316L buckles to match our watches.

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