The Short History of the Rolex President bracelet

Rolex President Bracelet on a modern Day-Date
The President bracelet was designed specially for the launch of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date in 1956.  The Rolex Day-Date was the first waterproof and self-winding chronometer to offer a modern calendar with instantaneous day spelled out and date on the dial.  Many luminaries, presidents, and leaders have adorned the Day-Date, often called the "presidents' watch" as a result. 
Rolex President Bracelet in Platinum

The President band represents the ultimate in refinement and comfort.  It is made from three-piece links.  The band has undergone stringent tests to achieve impeccable beauty and strength.  President bands are always produced with precious metals such as 18 ct yellow gold, rose gold, or 950 platinum.  Pictured above, the Day-Date harnesses the power and beauty of the President bracelet. 
Rolex President Bracelet in Rose Gold

The polished center rung is offset beautifully by the brushed gold links on the right and left of the band.  The alternating polished, brushed, polished, brushed, polished from the case through the band to the case again, gives a visual dimension to the timepiece which visually enticing to the eye. 

Rolex seems to follow the concept of the band color to the bezel and the hour markers on the case.  The fluted bezel of the day-date offers a similar light and dark lighting effect that the band naturally gives off with its links.  Of the Rolex bands, the President band is probably the 2nd most luxurious band they offer.  It is clearly not a "tool" band such as the Jubilee or to a lesser extent, the Oyster.  However, it may take a rung back to the much newer luxurious Pearlmaster band. 

However, the President bracelet never disappoints.  Wearing the President band is like stepping into the company of history with luminaries such as former President Lindon B. Johnson, or Winston Churchill.  Even President Kennedy received a Day-Date with President bracelet as a gift from Marilyn Monroe with the inscription "With love as always." 

A Brief History of the Rolex Oyster Bracelet

Oyster Bracelet with 18k gold on Rolex Daytona
Rolex initially began fitting their timepieces with metal bracelets in the 1920's and 1930's using a top Swiss bracelet design company Gay Frères.  Gay Frères was founded back in 1835 and made many jewelry creations before and after that were not related to the watchmaking industry.  However, they have designed some of the most iconic watch bands for Rolex, AP and many fine timepieces over the years.  Gay Frères was acquired by Rolex in 1998.  

Since Gay Frères created bands for many other watch manufacturers, Rolex decided to build a band of their own - the Oyster bracelet - which was released in the late 1930's and patented in 1947.  The Oyster bracelet has gone through many changes over the years, however the three-link design has remained the same.

From Hodinkee - a history from left to right
of Oyster Bracelets from oldest to newest
Hodinkee, an excellent resource for Rolex trivia, compiled a beautiful array of Oyster bracelets.  Startting from the left, you can see an early Bone style design which looks nothing like the oyster of today.  That is followed by a 4 link design, with the center links looking awfully close to the large center link of the 3 link Oyster.  The 3rd design were 3 links of the same size, but clearly not as distictive or artistic as what is yet to come.  

As you move down to the modern Oyster, you can see that Rolex began to make the links more slender as you approach the buckle, while adding the Rolex logo to the clasp.  Also, Rolex refined the bracelet as it attached to the watch case in 1952.  Curved to fit the case and reduce pressure on the lug, the bracelet started to have the appearance of being wholly designed as an extension of the watch case.  There is no gap between the lug and the watch case.
Oyster Glidelock

Rolex Oyster bracelets became the standard for sports watch bands since it provided sophisticated engineering, smooth lines and security.  Rolex knew that the band itself is essential for keeping their timepiece free from damage or loss so as much care has been put into making the Oyster bracelets stronger and more functional. 

Oyster Bracelet with Everose Gold on a Sky Dweller
The Oyster bracelet can be fitted with an Oysterclasp, the Oysterlock or the Crownclasp.  It has the optional Easylink comfort extension link system for quick comfort adjustments on the wrist.   In 1969, the Submariner and Sea-Dweller were shipped with a diver's extension system.  The Oyster comes in steel, yellow gold, pink gold, white gold and dual-color "rolesor" combining metal and gold on a single band.  
Rolex Oyster Rolesor bracelet on Submariner
The Oyster bracelet is as iconic as the Oyster case that has made Rolex famous.  The large center link with smaller surrounding links, seem to funnel beautifully towards the clasp for the most comfortable fit.  The Oyster band can also be found on several Tudor timepieces. 

Ian Flemming's Rolex Explorer 1016

Rolex Explorer Reference 1016 - Image by Hodinkee
Ian Flemming, author of the famous James Bond series, famously wore a Rolex Explorer Reference 1016.  Although in the books James Bond fashioned a Rolex Oyster Perpetual, and in the movies the Submariner was worn by the Naval Commander Bond, Flemming himself preferred the Explorer.  The Reference 1016 was in production for 30 years - a lifetime as far as timepieces go.  The steel case had a smallish 36mm size as compared to modern 39 and 42mm models.

Comparing against a modern Explorer II there are other differences.  The new Explorer has steel that surrounds the hour markers.  Flemming's 1016 has painted on hour markers.  The markers, including the Arabic numerals are also larger.  In the case of the numerals, the new Explorer II is much fatter than the early Explorer.  The word "Explorer" is also placed below the hour/minute hub and above the Superlative Chronometer on the new Explorer II dial.  Inside the timepiece, the new calibre 3132 is used, replacing the original caliber 1570 used in Flemming's Reference 1016.

The Reference 1016 has a gilt, glossy dial which was replaced later on by a matte dial
The New Rolex Explorer II 39mm Ref: 214270

However, much of the timepiece has not changed much since the release of the Reference 1016.  The hour minute and seconds hands appear to be the same size and shape although the new hands are technically slightly broader and longer for enhanced visual comfort.  The single winding crown without crown guards is off to the right of the case.  The polished steel case and minimalistic black dial are stunning and clearly legible in both daytime and in nighttime use. Both timepieces are built with shock absorbers to assist rock climbers and other extreme sports enthusiasts keep accurate time in spite of sharp movements while climbing the Himalayan mountains or other out of the ordinary expeditions.  A similar oyster steel bracelet is used with flat three-piece links.  Although the new Oysterlock safety clasp with comfort extension link is added in the newer model.

If there ever was an inspiration for a Bond character, the Rolex Explorer would be it.  Famously launched in 1953 to accompany true to life explorers of the Himalayans, the Explorer faces incredible odds and danger with dashing elegance and with reserved power.  The Explorer has a singularity of purpose.  It provides accurate time.  It is not distracted with date windows, weekday apertures or any other functions.  It is simplicity at its finest.
Explorer II in night time mode.  

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