The history of diver watches and their straps is a fascinating journey that has evolved significantly over the 20th and 21st centuries. The early days saw rudimentary leather and metal bands, but as diving technology advanced and the needs of divers grew, so did the materials used for watch straps.
In the mid-20th century, TROPIC rubber straps emerged as a game-changer. Made in the 1960s and 70s, these straps were often the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standard issue and commonly found paired with different brands of divers, including Rolex, Enicar, and Jenny Caribbean, among others. Their design, durability, and comfort made them a staple of both leisure and professional divers. If you were to look at just about any photo of a diver with his/her watch in the 60s, you would almost invariably find it paired with a TROPIC strap.
The immense popularity of vintage dive watches led collectors to seek out original TROPIC straps to complete their watches. However, due to their popularity, vintage TROPICs can command very high prices, and while there are many original examples out there, time and wear-and-tear have made them harder to find in wearable condition. As a result, a number of companies today have produced their own interpretations of the TROPIC strap with varying degrees of success.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and we see the rise of vulcanized rubber straps. These straps are durable, flexible, and do not attract dust like silicone straps. They are also more comfortable to wear, especially in hot weather, as they allow the skin to breathe.
One microbrand that has been making waves in the industry with their high-quality vulcanized rubber straps is Borealis Watch Company. Borealis offers a range of vulcanized rubber straps that are not only durable and comfortable but also affordable and vintage-looking.
Take, for example, the Borealis Vulcanized Rubber Strap 20mm Black. This strap is the result of over a year of work developing a new vulcanized rubber formula. It's flexible like a silicone strap but without the dust-attracting properties. It's also durable, making it an excellent choice for diver watches.
Another standout product from Borealis is the Boavista 20mm Black Vulcanized Rubber Strap. This tropic styled strap has an underside with a waffle pattern, making it extremely comfortable even in hot summer days as it allows perspiration of skin. It's also made of vulcanized rubber, ensuring its durability and flexibility.
These straps from Borealis are perfect for vintage watches like the Omega Ploprof and Panerai. The Omega Ploprof, a classic diver watch from the 1970s, is known for its robust and unique design. Paired with a Borealis vulcanized rubber strap, it becomes a perfect blend of vintage style and modern functionality.
Similarly, Panerai, with its rich history of producing diving watches for the Italian Navy, is another excellent match for a Borealis strap. The vintage aesthetic of Panerai watches combined with the modern, durable Borealis vulcanized rubber straps creates a timeless piece that is not only functional but also stylish.
In conclusion, while silicone straps have their place in the history of diver watches, the future belongs to vulcanized rubber straps. They offer the best of both worlds: the flexibility and comfort of silicone straps and the durability and dust-resistance of traditional rubber straps. Brands like Borealis Watch Company are leading the way in this new era of diver watch straps, offering high-quality, affordable options for both casual wearers and serious divers alike.
So, if you're in the market for a new strap for your diver watch, consider making the switch to vulcanized rubber. Your wrist will thank you.