REVIEW OF WILLIAM JEANS' NEW SUPER OYSTER TYPE II BRACELET
The following is a review of Will's new Super Oyster Type II bracelet (the “Type II”). I've been lucky to be one of the first to see and handle these so I'm hoping that the review serves you in some way. The bracelet is patterned after the popular aftermarket Super Oyster bracelet that has been around for a number of years and which is sold by a number of different sellers (including Will). The Type II is essentially an upgraded Super Oyster that keeps much of what made that bracelet popular and solves or enhances some of it’s less popular features. Please do not read this review as advertising or as a bash of the standard Super Oyster bracelet. I have no skin on this game and if I mention the Super Oyster, it is only to compare and contrast the differences between the product and the standard Super Oyster everyone is familiar with. I strongly believe that there is plenty of room in the market for both.
Anyhow here it goes. A few weeks ago Will was kind enough to offer a sample of his new Type II for review. I received the watch last week and have had the opportunity to spend a week observing it and getting to experience it. Now I don’t know how Will normally offers the bracelet, but this one arrived with two samples of Will’s fat spring-bars and well as a very nice set of solid end caps made to take fat spring-bars and designed to fit Seiko’s slimmed down diver cases used in the vintage 7548, Gen-2 6309 and 7002 divers (Will has not yet tested the end-caps on these other cases, but since these cases all take the same end-caps that the SKX007's 0020/0029 case takes, they should be drop in swaps), as well as all the modern Seiko SKX divers using the 0020/0029 case. The bracelet arrives in the exact same manner as the standard super oyster, completely wrapped in a tight fitting 3-part protective plastic wrapper.
The bracelet I received is a 22mm Type II bracelet with solid curved end caps, made to take fat Seiko spring-bars. Here are some pictures (mine and Will’s) of what the ends look like:
Here is what the link looks like mounted on the bracelet:
Here is what it looks like mounted on a watch, showing the underside with the spring-bar in place:
And here is a picture showing the end-cap and the first link in the bracelet showing the oversize spring-bar whole specifically made to take fat spring-bars:
Here are some pictures comparing the Type II’s solid end-cap to the open style of the one used in the standard Super Oyster:
The Type II starts out at 22mm at the end cap, then recesses from 22mm to 20mm on the outside of the first three links out from the end caps on either side. Every other link that follows all the way to the clasp is 20mm and straight. The center links are the same throughout the entire length. All the links are solid and other than their width (in a standard Super Oyster They narrow all the way down to 18mm) they appear to be of the same thickness and quality of construction. As with the super oyster, the first 3 links at either side of the clasp are removable (the rest are not), and are held together with they same type of screw-pins. Though I have not tested this, I suspect that anyone buying these should take the same care in tightening these screw pins as they did with a standard super oyster, so as to prevent striping the threads. Sadly, like the Super Oyster, the Type II can’t be fully disassembled, which means that it can’t be coated cleanly and successfully (at least not unless it is done at the factory during initial assembly). Here are some pics.
Here you can see a Type II (top) next to a Standard Super Oyster. Note the slight differences in width between the two:
And here are pictures of the screw-pins holding the removable links of the Type II together:
The clasp is another one of those differences. The Type II uses a 20mm spring loaded flip-lock clasp, which is used in one of Seiko’s Y-link bracelets. This one is probably a Chinese copy of the original, but like with the Super Oyster, I couldn't tell the two apart (and it is very well made). This essentially the same type of clasp that Seiko uses in the monster, the sumo and many of their divers, but 2mm wider, with no divers extension, and with 4 micro-adjustment holes. This is essentially the same clasp used in the standard Super Oyster, but 2mm wider. As I understand it, Will defaults to selling these with 4 micro-adjustment holes, but in the occasional case that someone wants one with 2 micro-adjustment holes, those can be special ordered.
Here is a picture of the clasp closed:
and here is the Type II (left) next to the clasp used in the standard Super Oyster (right):
My intended victim for the 22mm bracelet is my SKX173 which I've had on a standard Super Oyster for a long time. I’ve given the watch a lot of wear with the standard Super Oyster and thought that this would be a great opportunity to note the difference. Installation of the curved Solid end-caps onto this case is not nearly as easy or straight forward as it is with the open end-caps that are standard with standard Super Oyster. The reason is that the Solid end links don’t allow you to straddle the lugs during installation. This means that the opposite end of the spring-bar can’t be installed in its lug hole prior to installation, which means that you have to apply back pressure to it in order to get the opposite end in place. It takes a bit of doing, but you’ll get it eventually. Once in place, the solid end-caps fit the curvature and inside space of the lugs perfectly, leaving no gaps. Sadly in order to ensure a balanced fit with the links, the end-caps have been designed to slightly overshoot the length of the lugs making them look as if they don’t fit quite perfectly in that end. This is a minor issue, one which I doubt many will care about, and one which doesn’t detract from the overall look of the piece. Some, however, might prefer a perfect flush fitting piece.
Here is a picture of the end-cap fit I’m describing above:
And here are some pictures of the end-cap mounted onto my SKX173, so you can see the final result and judge whether the fit is to your liking:
Now it was time to adjust it. My wrist is 7.5 inches and I had to remove 3 links, and not shorten the clasp’s micro adjustment, to make it fit. I wear my watches close but not overly tight and definitely not floppy.
What I know and don't know:
The following are a handful of things I did not know so I asked Will to provide some info on. Questions are in black and Will's replies are in Blue:
- Is the Type II offered with a straight end?
"Straight end version coming out soon - next 30 days (mid to late January 2010)"
- Is the Type II offered in 20mm’s either straight or with a curved end cap?
"Currently looking at 20mm, however market maybe limited. Possibly making a generic 20mm curved end - however may not fit a lot of watches without modification. Currently reviewing cost / benefit of developing a 20mm bracelet. Will try to market to the 22mm tuna watches which takes fat spring bars. See pic for straight end"
- Is the Type II offered with the standard open super oyster end-caps, or do they only come with the custom solid end-caps?
"Only ships with the solid end-caps and fat bars (included). Type II's are not shipped with any open/hollow/folded end-caps."
In addition, I do know that Will also carries Swedefreak’s awesome open end-caps made for the first generation 6309/6306 divers cushion cases. That end-cap will take fat spring-bars and will fit this bracelet. As for price, ask Will as we have not discussed what his ultimate price will be in different configurations.
I'm very happy with the final result. It took me a bit to adjust it simply because it was my first time with it. The final fit is very comfortable, and it fits much like the standard Super Oyster bracelet. However the bracelet is heavier (I didn’t weigh it so I can’t tell you exactly how much), but not much. The extra width of the links definitely helped distribute the weight of the watch and bracelet a little better, which made it more comfortable than the standard Super Oyster when worn with this watch. The same is true of the clasp. I find it especially nice that Will’s standard clasp has 4 micro-adjustment holes and the one with 2 is optional. All sellers should sell theirs in this way. The end-caps fit nicely and other than their length they make for a lovely higher end touch to the watch.
To recap the main differences between the Type II and the Super Oyster are:
- the Type II starts at 22mm and tapers down to 20mm, while the Super Oyster tapers down to 18mm;
- the Type II uses the same 20mm clasp used in the Yobokies Anvil bracelet which is essentially a 2mm wider version of the same clasp used in the Super Oyster;
- because of the links and solid end-caps, the Type II is a little heavier than the Super oyster; and
- it is offered with solid end-caps and designed to take fat spring-bars.
Overall I'm very happy with it and thankful to Will for letting me try one so early on. I really like the fact that it so closely resembles the Super Oyster, but enhances some small things in such a way as to make it notably more comfortable and visually better balanced. I think that for larger watches, such as the divers mentioned in this review, going forward, the Type II will become the preferred option, while the standard Super Oyster will remain a popular option on other smaller watches and vintage pieces.
I hope this review helped anyone interested in the Type II bracelet. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll answer with what I can see on mine. Anything more specific, ask Will. You can contact Will via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ; or through his eBay store under the eBay name wjean28.
As a parting shot here is a final picture showing my SKX173 with the Type II (right) next to one of my 7002’s which lost its Jubilee in favor if a standard Super Oyster (left) :