It is no secret that Rolex makes one of the best, if not the best sport watch bracelet in the business. Yet, as an enthusiast there is always an underlying curiosity of how your watch might look on a different strap. While NATO and leather are popular alternatives, it seems there has been an significant uptake in rubber straps across the entire industry.

Kindly provided to me for review is the Vanguard rubber strap which exceeded my expectations from an aftermarket offering. The packaging is simple yet well executed, a bold red box containing the 2 piece vulcanised rubber strap and spring bars for my 214270 Explorer. Even before fitting, you become acquainted with how supple and tensile the rubber is, while retaining all the robustness associated with the material. The fit and finish is highly impressive, the strap nestling between the lugs with just about perfect tolerance. The Vanguard signed tang buckle feels of high quality and is finished with a fine straight grain, a very welcome touch. While other manufacturers may offer rubber straps that are compatible with the Rolex clasp, I much preferred the no-nonsense approach of the tang buckle, keeping the heft of that strap to a minimum and getting the best out of the Explorer in terms of wearability. Impressive hardware on a strap separates the fantastic from the mediocre and the Vanguard is undoubtedly the former.

While I had no intentions of changing the oyster bracelet on the Explorer, I am glad I had the opportunity to affix the Vanguard strap as it brought a totally new ownership experience to the watch. The black of the rubber compliments the matte dial, highlighting the polished finishes of the bezel and white gold surrounding the indices. During day to day wear, the Vanguard strap removes the stress of accidentally scratching the oyster bracelet while desk diving or otherwise. It dresses down the timepiece to its tool watch origins and while the Explorer is a watch that generally flies under the radar, the rubber strap makes it even quieter. This, coupled with the durability of rubber creates a fantastic way to enjoy your Rolex on holiday or during lifestyle activities, easing concerns you may have about wearing your prize possession. Objectively, rubber is a superior alternative to leather or NATO straps. It does not absorb moisture or fray over time while providing supreme levels of comfort, it is entirely life proof and won’t let you down.


If you own a Rolex or Tudor and want to try something new, Vanguard straps offer a product on par  (if not better) in terms of quality compared to the big players in the rubber strap game, at a significantly lower price.Visit to browse their catalogue of Rolex and Tudor straps. The rubber strap featured in this review is the black rubber strap made for the 39mm Explorer 1 and is listed at $130USD. 

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