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Tips for wearing your Rolex bracelet

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Roger Waters of Pink Floyd wears his Rolex very loose.
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd wears his Rolex very loose.

One of the popular questions that new Rolex owners ask about their watch is how to fit and wear them.  Rolex watches are designed to be water resistant to at least 100 meters and the reason that most Rolex watches have minimally a stainless steel watch bracelet.  Unlike other brands that may utilize a rubber, cloth, or thermoplastic urethane strap, Rolex utilizes a durable steel bracelet complete with a well-engineered clasp. Because Rolex watches have a watch head that is heavier than the watch bracelet, adjusting the bracelet requires a mix of variables including personal preference, the height of the watch head, and diameter of the wearers wrist.

Until these last 10 years or so, Rolex bracelets were considered a weak spot in a Rolex watch.  Rolex moved from utilizing stainless steel bracelets that were riveted, to bracelets that were constructed of rolled and compressed stainless steel, to present day use of solid bracelet links, solid end links and milled clasps, making adjustments somewhat easier and the strap much more durable.

Before considering making adjustments, the wearer has to decide whether they want the watch on the tight side, or on the loose side.  There are advantages and disadvantages for each.  Firstly, most Rolex sport and dress watches are designed such that the watch head is square on the outside of the wrist, and the watch clasp is centered on the underside of the wrist, with enough slack for a finger to be slipped underneath the bracelet clasp. Utilizing the “slip one finger under the clasp” rule, the watch is loose enough to slide on the wrist and allow for the wearers to expand and contract with the day’s heat and the wearer’s activity level.

Example of bracelet stretch
Example of bracelet stretch

From this point, some wearers will have the bracelet one notch in the clasp tighter because the top heaviness of the watch head found with some of the diving watches (DeepSea, SeaDweller), or precious metal watches such as a gold DateJust or platinum Daytona that have a fair amount of watch flop causing the watch slide around the wrist or onto the end of the wearer’s arm such that the crown digs into the wearer’s hand.  The other advantage of wearing a Rolex slightly tighter prevents what is known as “bracelet stretch.”  Rolex bracelets do not actually physically stretch, but as the pins holding the links together wear and elongate, the bracelet loses lateral stiffness. Wearing a Rolex slightly tighter helps prevent bracelet stretch.  Rolex wearers with smaller wrists (smaller than 6.75 inches) may wear the watch slightly tighter such that the watch stays centered on the wrist and not hanging over the edge.  Check out Jake’s Rolex World Magazine for images of people who wear their Rolex using the “one finger” rule.

Sophia Loren wearing her Lady DateJust like a bracelet
Sophia Loren wearing her Lady DateJust like a bracelet

Rolex refers to the watch strap as a “bracelet” because Rolex bracelets are designed with the same care and detail as a watch movement. Despite being called a “bracelet,” a Rolex watch is typically not worn loose like a bracelet.  The weight of the watch head flying around and loose bracelet links contributing to bracelet stretch are typically not a good idea, but there some who prefer to wear their bracelet very loose.  Many women who compliment their Rolex with other bracelets are known to wear their Rolex loose as well as others who don’t mind flipping their watch around with their other hand to read it such as Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. An advantage of wearing the bracelet loose is that it does not require any more adjustment in warm and humid weather when the wearer’s wrist expands.

Adjusting a Rolex by removing links and making adjustments using the notches located in the clasp is easy to perform with the correct tools.  See Beckertime’s Previous Rolex bracelet article – September 2012 for a tool listing.

The key to a Rolex fitting well is having the watch centered on the wrist with the clasp centered on the bottom of the wrist.  Many Rolex wearers move links around (from the 6:00 o’clock side to the 12:00 o’clock side of the clasp), and experiment with different clasp settings in order to get everything centered. Once the fit fiddling is done, a Rolex will wear like no other wristwatch.

  • Mari

    Hi there! I saw this post and thought you’d be a great person to answer a question for me. I’m very seriously considering buying a pre-owned ladies 18k gold president, the bracelet is fairly loose, leading me to assume it was likely worn loosely by the previous owner. Will this threaten the durability of the bracelet? Simply, is it more likely to somehow break? Also, I do realize it will affect the resale value somewhat…will it effect it a lot? Thanks so much for your time and answer!

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