DOXA RUBBER STRAP
© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - February 2005
Even though the new SUB 600T has a tremendous rice bead bracelet, many people asked Doxa to produce a rubber strap. Most dive watch bracelets have a diver's extension, which is designed to easily enlarge the bracelet when the watch is worn over a wet suit. The watch will be a nice snug fit on the surface, however, at depth the neoprene suit will compress due to the pressure increase and the watch can become fairly mobile on the wrist.
The original Doxa rice bead bracelet was designed to accommodate this by having spring tensioned pieces which would automatically adjust for depth. Unfortunately this mechanism, though elegant, was not particularly robust so Doxa did not incorporate it into the new rice bead design
Rubber straps by the fact that they are made of synthetic rubber will stretch and compress somewhat with changes in pressure. Some manufacturers, Seiko in particular, incorporate transverse corrugations, called vents, into their straps near the ends to further accommodate contraction and expansion. The above photo shows a typical aftermarket rubber strap which I cut to fit the SUB 300T Reissue.
When Doxa sat down to design the new rubber strap they had 2 criteria to fulfill. They had to make it better than the previous leatherette strap which was used on the SUB 300T reissue. This strap really was not up to being used for diving and was very prone to self destruct in a short period of time. They also had to make the strap cool. A rubber strap is basically just a rubber strap. Look at any of the aftermarket straps on sale. They all look pretty much the same. Doxa wanted to make theirs stand out. As you look at the photos in this review, I think you will see that they did indeed make a pretty cool strap. The words DOXA and SUB are in high relief on the 2 pieces and orientated such that anyone looking at the watch on your wrist can read the words. The strap colour is much more black than depicted in some of these photos. In order to show the lettering I reduced the contrast and some photos make the strap look somewhat gray. This is not the case as the strap is black.
The underside of the strap, rather than being flat, has a number of bumps which help grip the wrist and wetsuit. The buckle is stainless steel and has the word DOXA etched into it.
Doxa could quite easily have left the design like that, made the ends square, like just about every other rubber strap and put it on the market. And that is what they initially considered doing. But with the design finished and ready for manufacture, they scrapped it. The problem with square ends is that they leave unsightly gaps between the strap and the case. The new SUB 600T has a rounded case between the lugs and the original design of the strap just didn't look right. The redesign caused a delay of several months but the wait was worth it. The ends of the strap hug the case like a glove.
The new strap is long. When attached to the watch the whole length is almost 30 cms (11.75 inches). It is 20mm at the lug ends and tapers to 15mm near the end. It is also very soft, supple and smooth to the touch. I like it so much I think I'm going to develop a rubber fetish………hmmmmmmmmm!!!!! Seriously, though, this is one well made strap. It is a perfect fit for the new 600T and an excellent fit for the older SUBs with the curved case between the lugs (vintage 300T and 750T). As can be seen from the photos, there is a gap between the top of the strap and the top of the case on the vintage SUBs because all of the older cases are thicker than the new 600T case.
The new rubber strap will not fit the SUB 300T Reissue. However, I have no doubt that it could be made to fit. The lug width on the 300T Reissue is 14mm, the rubber strap is 20mm wide. It could be possible to perform surgery on it to reduce the width to 14mm but there are a number of things about the designs of both the strap and the 300T Reissue which may make it a difficult operation.
One of those is that there is a small metal tube insert in the strap ends. This severely limits the diameter of the pins which can be used with it. The new 600T rice bead bracelet comes with very thin pins. These fit the rubber strap perfectly. I changed the pins on my 600T to larger ones and they do not insert into the ends of the rubber strap. The rubber strap is not supplied with any pins. Not a problem if you are just exchanging the bracelet on your 600T for the strap, but frustrating if you are putting the strap on a older SUB, which, invariably will have thicker pins. It would be a nice touch if Doxa included a set of pins with each strap. This metal tube insert will also stop the thick screwed pins of the 300T reissue from being used with the strap. The pins and collars of the Seiko Orange Monster bracelet will work (that's what I use to attach the OM bracelet to my SUB 300T Reissue) and providing the strap ends can be cut to 14mm (depends on the length of the metal tube inserts), it should be possible to attach the new strap to a SUB 300T Reissue.
Initially I had problems putting the rubber strap on my 600T. It was very frustrating as I couldn't manage to get one side of the pin to locate into the lug hole. This is because the strap ends are such a good fit that it takes a little extra force to compress the rubber and align the pin and hole. Once I had done it a few times it became very easy. The secret is to do it in good light, use the bracelet tool supplied with the 600T and check out the exact position of the lug holes before you start.
The design of the strap ends, while being very aesthetically pleasing, does have a slight drawback for people with small wrists. The enlarged rubber bracing causes an increase in the radius of the strap curve as it exits the lugs. On a wrist of 7.5 inches the increased radius is not a problem. However, on a wrist like mine, a somewhat less than Arnold, 6.5 inches, the ends of the strap stick out more than normal. Nevertheless, there is hope. I have been wearing my strap on the last hole (smallest size) for the last 2 days and the radius has begun to relax a little. It is still not as snug a fit as I would like but it is getting better. People with larger wrists or who just use the strap for diving will not ever notice that there is an increase in the radius.
In April 2005 Doxa released an orange version of the rubber strap. It is a great match for the orange dial SUB 600T. Interestingly enough because the weathe at that time was very hot, the strap was much more pliable and it conformed to my wrist much better than the black one did when I first tried it back in February.
So would I recommend the strap to any Doxa owners? The answer is an emphatic yes. It looks and feels great and wears very well indeed. In fact it makes an already stand out orange dial stand out even more because of the increased contrast of orange and black. On a Sharkhunter the strap blends nicely with the dial. I am always telling people that I really don't like rubber straps (or leather ones for that matter), I'm really just a bracelet kind of guy, but I do like the new Doxa rubber strap. I'll be keeping this one on my Conquistador for quite some time to come.
April also saw the release of the yellow dial Divingstar SUB 600T. It would be great to have a yellow version of the rubber strap, but since the Divingstar was limited to 100 watches, I doubt we will see the yellow strap.