How To Break In A Rubber Watch Strap?


At times, your watch can come with a rubber strap, and it can be hard to break into. Unlike a leather strap that you can soften easily, a rubber strap can be challenging. 

In this article, we will look at if breaking in a rubber strap is even necessary, understanding the types of rubber straps, and in the end, how to actually break in a rubber watch strap. 

How To Break In A Rubber Watch Strap

Should You Break In A Rubber Watch Strap?

Usually, you do not really need to break into a rubber strap, unless they are made of harder materials such as resin.

Rubber straps usually have tough construction. Rubber straps also tend to resist dirt and contamination much better than many other types of bands.

They are also very resistant to direct impact or tearing force.

Take a hammer and smash it on a metal bracelet, and you will break it into pieces. Try that on a leather strap, and you will probably deform it pretty badly too.

Try that on a rubber strap, and it will just… take it and do just fine. 

Rubber straps are also smooth, this avoids it catching things when you are dealing with things like flour, or powders. Which means they do well in places like kitchen.

There are schools of thought out there that by trying to break in your rubber watch strap, you run the risk of ‘weakening’ the strap – which defeats the purpose of having the rubber strap designed in the first place. 

Of course, this does not happen all the time, but it can happen.

But then we also agree that when designing the watch, the engineers would have thought deeply about the hardness vs. comfort factor when deciding on the straps. 

Perhaps instead of breaking in and molding the rubber strap, why not change into another more comfortable strap instead?

This, we leave you to decide. But if you still wish to proceed and try to break in a rubber watch strap, please read on. 

How Many Types Of Rubber Watch Straps Are There?

Rubber straps are either natural rubber (latex) or synthetic rubber, several rubber strap names that you might hear:

  • Resin
  • Silicone
  • Polyurathane (PU)
  • FKM Rubber
  • PVC Rubber

Vulcanized Natural Rubber

Vulcanized rubber was first created to produce tires but has since found its way into many things in life, including watch straps. 

In fact, vulcanized rubber straps are used in many luxury watches today – Omega, Panerai, Hublot, and Audemars Piguet are some of the known users.

Vulcanized Natural Rubbers straps are known to be soft and gently mold themselves to the wearer’s wrist over time. They generally do not need any serious ‘break-in’ procedures. 

Silicone Rubber

Silicone rubber is synthetic and is used to make watch straps as they are easily shaped and colored. 

However, silicon straps have their own problems, such as stickiness, and they tend to attract dust and lint. Silicone straps also might not stand well to frequent abrasions. 

Silicon rubber also does not need much ‘breaking in,’ as they are easily bendable. They will adjust to your wrist right on the first wear and go back to its original shape once you take it off. 

PVC Rubber

If you think PVC is a type of plastic, you are right. But they could be made to be a watch strap as well. PVC straps are known for their rigidity and flexibility.

They are tough and can take punishment without suffering much physical damage. PVC straps are also water repellent. You can clean the strap easily after getting it dirty with just a simple wipe. 

The downside of PVC straps is that they can be ‘hard and plasticky.’ You tend to find PVC straps on watches that place function over comfort – beater watches, for example. 

FKM Rubber

FKM stands for Fluoro-Elastomer. For many, their experience with FKM rubber straps starts with wearing their Apple Watch. Apple uses FKM rubber for their Apple Watch’s sports bands.

These straps are much appreciated by those with allergy issues with latex, metal, and silicone. It is soft, comfortable, and heat resistant. 

On top of that, the strap is also waterproof, UV resistant, and its high density makes it elastic but tough. 

Polyurethane (PU) Rubber

PU rubber is popular as watch straps because it is inexpensive and soft. It is also strong and sturdy to withstand abuse and abrasions. 

The downside of PU is that it can have a sticky feel when wet, and it takes a long time to dry. PU also does not stand well in cold temperatures and generally breaks down after a few years. 

Resin Straps

Resin straps are technically not made of natural or synthetic rubber. Still, we added them here since many often see them as ‘rubber straps.’ 

Resin straps are technically made of tree resin saps. Additional processed are added to further made it suitable for watches.

G-Shocks are made with a polyurethane resin, which is the common resin straps many people experience. 

The straps are extra strong and can withstand direct impact, tearing, and abrasion forces. Their surface finishing is also UV and water-resistant. 

The downside of resin straps is hardness and general discomfort to some wearers. Resin straps could benefit from break-ins as well.

How To Break In A Rubber Watch Strap

You can break into rubber watch straps by using either hairdryer, or soaking it in hot and boiling water.

What we advise here is to approach the process with increasing intensity. Start with the least intense breaking in before moving into the harder process. 

This is because you might not be able to tell the materials used to make your strap. Therefore, if you go straight into the harder process, you risk breaking your rubber strap. 

Hairdryer

For this method, prepare the following:

  • Your watch strap, attached to your watch
  • A cloth/paper to wrap around your watch
  • A tube with a similar diameter to your wrist, made of materials that are heat resistant. Cardboard, PVC, or metal. Measure your wrist size using our guide here.

To execute the hairdryer method to break in a rubber watch strap:

  1. Strap your watch around the tube. This simulates as if the strap is worn around the wrist. 
  2. Take time to wrap and cover your watch case with paper/cloth, preventing direct heat from getting on the watch case. 
  3. Now take a hairdryer, and blow hot air straight on the rubber strap. 
  4. As you blow the hot air, take time to stop, and touch on the rubber strap. You might feel it is warmer to the touch. 
  5. Stop once you feel the strap is warm enough, and let it cool down while being strapped on the tube. You may repeat the process several times to further break in the rubber strap. 

Now once the strap has cooled down, take it off the tube. Then try to wear the watch on your wrist.

Does it feel any different? Does the rubber strap adhere to your wrist better?

If yes, you may continue to use the hairdryer method to further break-in and mold your strap to your wrist. 

If there is no difference, consider the harder approach below. 

Soak In Hot Water

For this method, prepare the following:

  • Your watch strap, detached from your watch case. 
  • A strip of long cloth, around double the length of your watch strap.
  • A strip of tape.
  • A saucepot to boil water
  • A short tube with a similar diameter to your wrist, made of heat and water-resistant materials. PVC or metal.

To execute this method:

  1. Remove the straps from your watch case. 
  2. Fasten the end of the watch strap as if you are wearing the strap. Wrap the strap around the tube. Secure the other end with tape.
  3. Now, wrap and tie the cloth around the strap. This is to fully secure the strap from detaching from the tube due to the tape deteriorating.
  4. Boil some water in a saucepot. 
  5. Remove the saucepot, and place the watch strap and pot inside the pot. Let the strap soak until the watcher is at room temperature. 

Once cooled, take off the strap, attach it back to your watch case, and try to wear it on your wrist. 

If there is no difference in fit or shape changes, you might need to hit the strap real hard with the third method.

How To Break In A Rubber Watch Strap

Dip In Boiling Water

For this method, prepare the following:

  • Your watch strap, detached from your watch case. 
  • A strip of long cloth, around double the length of your watch strap.
  • A strip of tape.
  • A saucepot to boil water
  • A ladle
  • A short tube with a similar diameter to your wrist, made of heat and water-resistant materials. PVC or metal. 

To execute this method:

  1. Remove the straps from your watch case. 
  2. Fasten the end of the watch strap as if you are wearing the strap. Wrap the strap around the tube. Secure the other end with tape.
  3. Now, wrap and tie the cloth around the strap. This is to fully secure the strap from detaching from the tube due to the tape deteriorating.
  4. Boil some water in a saucepot.
  5. Once boiling, place the tube and watch strap into the pot, and let it boil together with the strap for about 2-3 minutes. 
  6. Remove the tube and strap, and allow it to cool down. 
  7. Repeat the process until satisfied.

Wrapping Up: How To Break In A Rubber Watch Strap

To summarise, the key here is to learn your rubber watch materials first before deciding on whether it actually needs breaking in or not. 

Once you decide to break in your rubber watch strap, then you can start with the least intense method. If results are not as desired, keep going up in intensity untuk you get what you need.

We hope this guide has helped you break in, soften and mold your watch strap. If you are looking to add a hole to your rubber watch strap, you may consider checking our guide as well.

Nigel Ignatius

Nigel is the principal creator of WatchPursuits.com, a website dedicated to watches. Inspired by the dedication and effort of watchmakers now and old, Nigel has a passion for watches and looks forward to share his passion with the world.

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