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STR-R51: Black Textured Rubber Strap with Deployant Buckle
STR-R51: Black Textured Rubber Strap with Deployant Buckle
Originally available through the '60s and '70s, the iconic textured rubber strap was offered by many mainstream watch manufacturers as well as being a popular alternative to the metal bracelets and leather straps that dive watches of the time were usually supplied on and is probably one of the best loved styles of strap ever made.
The chic iconic design, durability, and comfort made them a favourite of both professional and leisure divers; look at just about any photo of a diver from that era and chances are they'll have one on their wrist.
When we set about designing our version, we didn't want to slavishly copy the original; we wanted to take everything we loved about it but make it our own. The end result being a strap you cut down to fit, with a gorgeous deployant buckle that opens at the squeeze of a button. It starts off much longer than our standard rubber tongue buckle straps too.
We kept the iconic 'basketweave' texture on the upper surface but redesigned it from scratch using a pattern made from the pointed horizontal bars from the EB shield, with a moulded stitch detail around the edge.
We weren't fond of the original sawtooth detail along the edge, so we changed that to a smooth 'wall' that acts as a finisher for the convex profile, but kept the signature punched diamond holes that stop water from building up between the strap and your wrist.
The original textured straps were fitted with a tongue buckle and were heavily tapered, typically starting at 20mm at the watch and tapering to 10mm at the tip of the strap. We felt this degree of taper would look unbalanced on our watches, as they're larger than the divers watches of the '60s and '70s so ours only tapers by 2mm - from 22mm at the watch to 20mm at the buckle.
We have smartened this strap up and moved away from the usual tongue buckle and keepers - the little rubber loops that hold the excess- as they're always the first part to wear out. This strap is cut-to-length, with the cut ends hidden inside a double folding deployant buckle with three micro adjustment holes on each side. That way, even if your cuts aren't perfect, you're not reminded every time you unbuckle your strap. Lines moulded inside the strap show you where to cut to keep the chance of mistakes to a minimum.
Continuing the concept we started with our original rubber strap, we wanted to have some fun and create a local story around the breather lines moulded inside the strap. Our original rubber strap used hand-traced contour lines from Tyneham Cap; this one is even closer to home and was inspired by the mooring ropes we see in the boatyard outside our office windows.
Marrying this embossed detail with the cut-lines, vent holes, and spring bar holes for the multiple attachment sizing zones was not the work of five minutes but it has resulted in one of most satisfying pieces of design we've ever turned out.
After trialing numerous different materials, we decided on a specific EPDM rubber that was mixed and moulded specifically for this strap to create a 'handle', texture, and gloss level that mimicked the original. The end result is a slightly firmer-feeling rubber than we'd usually use with a hint of sheen to bring out the basket weave texture. It's flexible and comfortable without being stretchy or soft, and durable without being stiff or brittle and suits the design perfectly.
True to its diving roots, EPDM is unaffected by seawater, ozone, or UV. It’s also hypoallergenic, non-sticky (so it won’t pick up fluff from your garments) and is beautifully neutral to wear.
In some of our early design mock-ups we sketched this strap with straight ends where the strap meets the watch, like the originals, but fitted straps have become an EB trademark because they close up the triangles where a straight strap fits up to a curved watch case, making the overall look seem much more 'complete', so we changed them to moulded fitted ends with internal reinforcements that mate up perfectly to any EB gents watch.
The low profile double-folding 316L deployant buckle is simple and functional with a polished and beadblasted acid etched EB shield spanning the closure and three micro adjustment holes to fine tune the fit or help centre your watch in the middle of your wrist. Viewed from underneath, the buckle is a shallow three-sided box, meaning the cut edges of the strap aren't visible from the top or the sides; the strap just flows into the buckle and no keepers to wear out.
Much like a metal bracelet that starts off at its longest, your rubber strap starts long and is designed to be adjusted to fit.
Allow yourself plenty of time, and try your watch and strap on your wrist before you start cutting to work out how much to shorten the strap by.
Having looked at the strap length on your wrist, if you need to shorten the strap, take the watch off, place it on a soft surface and remove one strap end from the buckle using the pointed tool (included) to push into the holes in the sides of the buckle to release the spring bar. Be careful not to lose the spring bar.
With a sharp knife or scissors, carefully cut just one section from the free end, cutting neatly and carefully along the centre of the first guide groove on the inner surface of the strap at the end nearest the buckle. Don't be tempted to cut two sections at once.
Now refit the strap end back into the buckle depressing the spring bar to locate into the hole position nearest the centre join of the buckle. Use your fingernail or a spring bar tool if you have one.
Now try the strap on your wrist again - it’s surprising how much removing just one rubber section changes the size.
If the strap still needs to be smaller, repeat the above steps, alternating which side you cut down until the strap is the perfect length.
Each time, re-attach the strap using the holes nearest the centre of the buckle so you can always increase the size a little just in case.
The attachment holes in the buckle are half the length of the strap sections so if you end up a tad too tight or a tad too loose, adjust which set of holes the strap attaches to in the buckle until it’s perfect.
It pays to be patient so you don't end up cutting your strap too short. Remember as your body temperature increases, your wrist size will increase too.