Watch bracelet longevity?
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  1. #1
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    Watch bracelet longevity?

    Hello everyone!

    I am hoping you all may be able to help me understand how long a good watch bracelet should realistically last, and what kinds of problems bracelets face.

    When I bought my Omega Seamaster on a bracelet, my AD told me to let them know if I ever needed to order a replacement bracelet. At that time, the most expensive watch I owned was a Citizen, and apart from scratches and dirt buildup, I never had an issue with the bracelet.

    Never experiencing a bracelet problem myself, I wondered why anyone would need a replacement apart from cosmetic reasons. I did sone searching, and I found a few claims that it was a good idea to purchase backup bracelets for higher end watches. I also heard of a thing called “bracelet stretch.”

    The bracelet on my Seamaster has solid screwed in links, and solid end links, with the usual solid clasp with diver extension. I read that solid screwed links are impervious to “stretch,” but I’m not sure how true that is.

    My questions are:

    1. How long should a good watch bracelet realistically last?

    2. What is bracelet stretch, and what causes it? How do I prevent it? Are solid screwed links really stretch proof?

    3. Other than cosmetic reasons (which I don’t care about), why would I want to consider shelling out a premium amount for a replacement bracelet? What are the chances of it actually breaking in my lifetime?

    4. Out of curiosity, how old are your oldest bracelets that are still going strong? How often have they been used over their lifetime?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    1. A good watch bracelet should last longer than you.

    2. Bracelet stretch is caused by deformation of elements of the bracelet, almost exclusively at connection points (i.e. pins/screws or joints). The metal links of the bracelet itself do not stretch appreciably. Screws are unlikely to stretch much, but one could imagine a (somewhat contrived) situation in which they would.

    3. You shouldn't. As noted above, if part of your bracelet fails, it is very likely to be a connection point, the elements of which are much cheaper to replace than an entire bracelet. An exception would be a failure caused by a damaged lug. But even then, you would need to repair the case, not the bracelet itself.

    4. I inherited a beads of rice bracelet on a 1940s Omega which was broken. It was not original to the watch, so I discarded it and replaced it with a strap. All my other watches are 20 years old or fewer and none have appreciable stretching.

    In sum, no need for an extra bracelet. Spend the money on scotch instead.
    Last edited by Tethros; 3 Weeks Ago at 22:45. Reason: Spelling.

  3. #3
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    ^ well said Tethros. I have a couple of Swiss timepieces older than 20yrs and their bracelets are holding up great. But I say buy bourbon instead :P

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  5. #4
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    Modern bracelets will last decades or more. Even if some small piece of it were to break, you'd be able to repair it. I wouldn't see any need to buy a back up (second) bracelet for a new watch.

  6. #5
    Member Foch's Avatar
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    I agree with the above points. I have bought upgraded bracelets from StrapCode over the years. Solid end links, thick screw in pins...But I think the point that is being missed here is the stress we put on the bracelet. Go to the gym and hit the heavy bag with your watch on, that is bracelet breaking stress. Lots of activities can add that stress. But if you take that into consideration, or are a desk jockey, a good bracelet will last longer than you.

  7. #6
    Member Nokie's Avatar
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    If well made, way longer than you.

    I have some that are 20 years old and in fantastic shape.
    "Either he's dead or my watch has stopped"
    Groucho Marx

    "The only reason for time is so that everything does not happen at once..."
    Albert Einstein

  8. #7
    Member MaxIcon's Avatar
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    A lot depends on the user and how they wear it.

    Bracelets that never get cleaned build up dirt in the links and connecting pins/screws over the years that can cause wear on both the links and pins. If you wear a bracelet watch regularly, it's a good idea to clean it every now and then. This can help also avoid stretch on bracelets that are prone to it - typically older ones with folded links.

    I've bought a number of used bracelets, on and off of watches, that were worn a lot by the original owner, and it took multiple passes through the ultrasonic to get all the crud out of the links, clasps, and pins. It can be quite disgusting!

    The other wear I see is on the side of the bracelet that would rub against a desk or work surface, causing flat spots on the links. I have several watches with flat spots on the bracelets. Some people care about this and replace the bracelet when the flat spots get bad, while others don't mind.

    That said, some replacement bracelets are easy to come by, and others aren't, depending a lot on how popular the watch is. Some Omega bracelets are quite hard to find and very expensive, while others are readily available both new and used. I've bought replacement bracelets for a few watches because the opportunity presented itself at a great price, and they're always easy to move on later, often at a profit.

    YMMV, as always!

  9. #8
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    I have a vintage Seiko with a coffin link bracelet. It's easily 44+ years old, and it holds fine. There's no egregious warping or play beyond what's expected. That's to say, there's play, but it's not expected to be a stiff slab of sheet metal either.

  10. #9
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    Interesting points


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  11. #10
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    Re: Watch bracelet longevity?

    Unless there is a manufacturer's defect, even a cheap bracelet will last for decades, if not centuries.

    A buddy of mine wore a watch with a cheap Speidel Twist-O-Flex bracelet for well over ten years.

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