Without a band of some type, you’d have a pocket watch (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with that). But today’s watches are primarily wrist watches, bound to your wrist with a strap made of leather, rubber or fabric, or a metal bracelet. Save for a few activity-specific guidelines, your choice of band comes down to personal preference.
A leather strap is suitable for everyday wear. Finer grades of leather, ranging from alligator to patent, are a great choice with dress watches. However, if you are planning on wearing your watch during water sports, you might prefer to go with a rubber strap instead. Leather straps are not as durable as metal bracelets, but they are easier to replace. Finally, leather straps are typically connected using a standard buckle, but you can also find some that are joined by a deployment buckle (or a butterfly clasp), which opens symmetrically.
Metal bracelets are typically composed of individual links and are joined by a metal-hinged clasp, such as the aforementioned deployment, as well as a fold-over or jewelry clasp. The bracelet attaches to the watch case at the lugs, usually with spring bars, which enables you to easily switch to a leather or rubber strap. However, some higher-end watches have an integrated bracelet, where the watch case and band are designed as a whole, and it usually can’t be replaced by a strap.
Sizing a Metal Bracelet
While leather straps are pretty easy to fit around your wrist with its buckle and punched hold, a metal bracelet can be trickier as one or more links may need removal to correctly size to your wrist. While this can be done on your own using a bracelet tool accessory, we recommend taking your watch to a local jeweler for precise sizing, which can usually be done for $10 to $30. Be sure to keep any links that are removed in case you need to replace a link somewhere down the line.