I tend to prefer leather straps on my watches. I have some watches with steel bracelets, but I find that leather straps tend to look a little warmer and have a little more character and a little less ‘bling’. I also change my straps fairly frequently to change the look of a watch (click here for how to change a watch strap)
However, many Rolex watches were not really designed to be worn on a leather strap and were never sold with the option of leather. This does not prevent them being worn on leather, but there can be a drawback. The area of the case between the lugs on Rolex watches is where the serial number and model number used to be engraved and because this area is usually covered by the bracelet the finish is often not the same as the rest of the case and can look a bit strange when exposed when wearing the watch on leather.
These is a solution though, but it is not provided by Rolex as they never intended the watches to be worn that way. The solution is a pair of precision engineered end links designed specifically for use with leather straps being used on Rolex watches and they are available for most models.
These end-links are beautifully engineered from solid 316L stainless steel and snugly fit between the lugs of your Rolex. They don’t damage the watch in any way and are only held in place by the strap itself so fitting them in totally reversible. They have lugs on the underside to locate them and to prevent them from moving around. Ingenious little things! I find it amazing that Rolex don’t offer something like this themselves as they really make leather straps look like they always belonged on a watch.
You can see a comparison here showing a vintage 1971 two tone DateJust 1603 without the end links on the left, and with the end links on the right.
In my opinion the end links look like they belong to the watch. They don’t look like an afterthought and I also have no qualms about them being aftermarket as Rolex don’t offer an OEM alternative (I’d never use a non genuine part on a watch other than strap, end links, buckle and potentially acrylic crystal as these parts are easily reversible and are considered by many as “consumable parts” similar to tyres on a car).
The end links have a profile that echoes that of the oyster bracelet.