Are Rubber Watch Straps Comfortable?
The simple answer is - yes, rubber watch straps are comfortable to wear. But the level of comfort very much depends on the type of rubber used - for example, natural and silicone rubber are much more comfortable to wear than PU or resin straps.
The Different Types of Rubber Watch Straps And Their Comfortability
When people talk about "rubber", they don't usually specify what kind. But there are many different kinds of rubber, and they all fall into two broad types:
- Natural rubber (latex—grown from plants)
- Synthetic rubber (made artificially in a chemical plant or laboratory).
Although natural rubber and synthetic rubbers are similar in some ways, they're made by completely different processes and are chemically quite different. Not to mention some of course being significantly more comfortable than others.
Vulcanised Natural Rubber Straps
Natural Rubber is made from a runny milky white liquid called Latex that comes from plants. There are something like 200 plants in the world that produce latex, but over 99 percent of the world's natural rubber is made from the latex that comes from a tree species called Hevea brasiliensis, widely known as the rubber tree.
This latex is about one third water and one third rubber particles held in a form known as a colloidal suspension. The Latex is made of many thousands of basic C5H8 units loosely joined to make long, tangled chains, which can be pulled apart and untangled fairly easily, but they spring straight back together if you release them—and that's what makes rubber elastic.
Vulcanised rubber was first created to produce tires but has since found its way into many things in life, including watch straps, and are used in many luxury watches today – Omega, Panerai and Hublot.
Vulcanised Natural Rubbers straps are famous for being soft and gently mould themselves to the wearer’s wrist over time. They generally do not need any serious ‘break-in’ procedures because they are comfortable enough on their own from the get go.
Silicone Rubber Straps
Silicone rubber is synthetic and can be easily shaped and coloured to make rubber watch straps. However, this type of material has a reputation for stickiness, a tendency to tear and likely to attract dust and lint. If you use a rubber strap just for water and sporty purposes though, that factor shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Silicone straps also might not stand well to frequent abrasions.
Silicon rubber also does not need much ‘breaking in,’ as they are easily bendable. They will adjust to your wrist right on the first wear and go back to its original shape once you take it off.
PVC Rubber Straps
For rubber straps, PVC is typically identifiable as being ‘cheap’ and ‘plasticky’ feeling. While they aren’t the best in terms of quality, they are solid options for actually rough conditions and can take punishment without suffering much physical damage.
The downside of PVC straps is that they can be ‘hard and plasticky’, and for this reason, you tend to find PVC straps on watches that place function over comfort – beater watches, for example.
PU Rubber Straps
PU rubber is popular as watch straps because it is inexpensive and sturdy. The downside is that PU can have a sticky feel when wet, and it takes a long time to dry. PU also does not stand well in cold temperatures and generally breaks down after a few years.
Also, although they are very durable and highly functional, they are sometimes reported to be less comfortable than natural rubber.
Although they are not technically made of natural or synthetic rubber, many put resin straps in the rubber category, so we thought we’d add it to the list!
A good example of a resin watch are G-Shocks - made with a polyurethane resin. The straps are extra strong and can withstand direct impact, tearing, and abrasion forces. Their surface finishing is also UV and water-resistant.
However their downside is hardness and general discomfort to some wearers.
Our Top Rubber Watch Straps
A simple and understated design, the Pure watch strap is made entirely from soft and supple, natural rubber, and is adorned with a high-quality Catwalk buckle that strongly complements its square, parallel styling.
The strap is also waterproof, tearproof and hypoallergenic, a true marriage of bold style and complete functionality.
The ISOfrane strap is one of the world's premier diving bands, with a timeless, functional design that dates back to the 1960s. The original isoprene rubber formula that gave it its soft, strong and waterproof characteristics is intact, but has been updated for the 21st century.
Now featuring hypoallergenic, non-toxic modifications that make it exceedingly kind to the user's skin – all without using silicone, for maximal dust-resistance allowing the strap to retain its factory-fresh lustre for far longer than competing straps.
A bold new seasonal addition to the popular Hirsch Performance range, these supple natural rubber straps are superb performers for marine sports and a wide variety of other activities.
Thanks to advances in the production process, Hirsch has developed a new technique that allows for sharp multi-color patterns to be present in a single continuous rubber layer, allowing for this complex camouflage to be presented without compromise.
Written by Kate, for Watch Obsession.