5 of the best strap monsters 5 of the best strap monsters

5 of the best strap monsters

Tom Austin

I know a few people with pretty large watch collections, perhaps even too large, but what if you were limited to only a couple? You’d need those watches to suit all kinds of purposes and occasions, right? That’s where strap monsters come in. These are the chameleons of the watch world, able to change their appearance to either hide in plain sight, or become the biggest conversation starter. With a simple strap swap, they can go from being the watch to scale a cliff face with, to suddenly being at home in your local restaurant, or even the board room as you’re stuck in that meeting, daydreaming about that next surfing trip with your buddies… which NATO strap should fit that, or perhaps a perlon? Sorry – back to the topic at hand. There are a lot of watches out there that you can whack on a rubber or nylon, but which ones are the best?

Sinn 556 A

sinn 556A

Sometimes, simplicity is key, and Sinn nailed it with the stainless steel 556 A. A pilot’s watch at heart, with a distinctive dial which highlights the characteristics of a cockpit, but functions in pretty much any situation, and fits right into Sinn’s extensive range. At 38.5mm, it’s sized suitably for most wrist sizes, and at 11mm thick can easily fit under a shirt sleeve – or if you so wish, the elasticated cuff of your G-suit. Back on Earth though, it can suit any occasion when paired with either a black leather strap, silicon sports strap, a nylon NATO, or suede buckle-up, all made wonderfully easy with drilled lugs to make strap swaps a breeze. Visible through the sapphire exhibition case back, the automatic Sellita SW200-1 movement keeps things ticking away with typical Sinn quality and longevity, meaning the 556 A is a dependable watch which is unlikely to let you down, and continue to look good in the process. Price: starting from A$1,895

Seiko Prospex SPB239J

seiko prospex spb239j1

It’s hard to pick out a best from Seiko’s line up, with almost all of their tool watches being transformative. Looking great on everything from a stainless steel bracelet to a hard wearing nylon NATO strap, they’re arguably some of the most versatile watches you can buy. One stands out to me significantly, however, as Seiko’s own design has actually leaned in towards the watch working so well with different straps. The Prospex SPB239J is a diver’s watch, capable of submerging 200 metres under water, and doing so with ’60s retro flair. The 40.5mm case is blocky, yet functional. At 13.2mm thick, it’s not a small watch, but at the same time it’s proportioned to be flexible. The 20mm lugs mean it’s compatible with practically any strap you throw at it, and comes with its own pair of earthy toned polyester straps, crafted in Japan by Seiko themselves. Powering the watch is the Seiko Calibre 6R35, an automatic movement with 70 hours of power reserve. The Prospex is available in a few different colourways, but the most versatile is the 1965 Diver’s Re-interpretation, a throwback to the Seiko dive watches of the past. Price: US$1,200

Oris Big Crown ProPilot Big Date

oris big crown propilot big date

To be a strap monster means to be versatile – you have to be able to be ready for anything, and the Oris Big Crown ProPilot Big Date is a perfect option. During the week, you’ll have a functional, understated, yet high-quality timepiece that will also fit extremely well on your weekend fishing trip, or your flying lessons as you try to live out your Top Gun midlife crisis. Constructed from brushed stainless steel, the 41mm case is confidently sized, needing to fit the large, legible dial which is available in a range of colours and finishes, with a few limited editions that are particularly stylish. The case is polished off with an angular, knurled bezel and large crown give the watch a unique finish, exclusive to Oris’ ProPilot family. The lug width is 20mm and therefore perfect for a subtle tan leather strap for those more relaxed days, or perhaps an olive green nylon strap for those weekend hikes in the mountains. The watch is powered by the automatic, Sellita-based Oris 751 calibre, capable of a 38-hour power reserve, and visible through a sapphire caseback. Sometimes it’s a challenge picking out different straps, but Oris has you covered with almost 100 different strap options to choose from, including their unique seatbelt style folding clasps. Price: A$3,100

Omega Speedmaster Professional

omega speedmaster professional moonwatch

The Godzilla of strap monsters, the Omega Speedmaster Professional is the epitome of versatility. Available in a vast range of finishes from stainless steel and gold to even ceramic, the trusty 42mm Speedy is a strap-changing wonder. When buying, people will often opt for the stainless steel bracelet, then continue to pair it with a multitude of different styles, each with their own classic appeal. For example, a black, velcro nylon style lends itself well to its space-faring missions, or perhaps taking the heritage back even further with a leather rally strap. Equally, dressier leathers and Milanese mesh look awesome on the Speedmaster, making it the connoisseur’s choice when it comes to customisation. There are a number of limited and non-limited models to choose from, each with their own nuances, meaning the decision comes down to overall needs. The traditionalist in me couldn’t say no to the Hesalite 3861 model, the original legendary chronograph. Price: starting from A$10,675

Tudor Black Bay

tudor black bay 41 nylon strap

Firstly we should nod to the Rolex Submariner here, a legend in its own right. In some vintage guises, these are excellent strap monsters, working well on their steel bracelets and equally at home on nylon straps. These days, you’ll rarely catch a modern, ceramic-bezelled Sub on any of these as it has become less and less of a tool over the years, which is just natural progression. Thankfully, Rolex has blessed us with Tudor, supposedly making up for their retail practices. The brand is known for capturing the heritage of both its own brand, and Rolex’s rich history too. Cast your mind back to the likes of the Rolex 6538 big crown, and you’ll know where I’m going with this. The Tudor Black Bay 41 line, with its vintage look and multitude of colours and variations captures the vintage charm, without the hassle and cost of sourcing and owning a vintage watch. Though not as conservative as its smaller brethren, it lends itself exceptionally well to being paired with a number of different types of straps. The Black Bay is versatile and ready for anything, all while being durable and timeless. Tudor even provides you with multiple choices, meaning this is the luxury strap monster. Price: starting from A$5,470