In the 1960s to the 70s, the first diving watches were created, ushering in the age of deep-sea exploration. And accompanying these watches were Tropic straps. For example, if you didn’t want to walk out the dealer with a steel bracelet on your Rolex Submariner after your purchase, the dealer wouldn’t fit a leather strap on your watch- they would fit a Tropic instead. 

And there was a good reason why the Tropic strap was the official strap for a watch like the Submariner. It was the perfect amalgamation of durability and comfort. Unlike leather, the strap never shrunk in size, nor did it bear odors – both above and underwater. The strap always retains its shape as well – place it on your desk and the strap will stay flat on the surface - definitely not what happens with leather. On your wrist, the rubber wraps around in a cozy loop, but also manages to give your wrist some breathing space by staying in a circular shape. With leather, the strap has a tendency to taper tightly with your wrist.

There’s a lot of fun and value in the Tropic strap, and that’s why I’ve been enjoying wearing the Joseph Bonnie Tropic strap. Among all the modern takes of the Tropic strap I’ve tried, this one takes my vote. Once I fitted my NOS Tropic buckle, I liked it so much that I thought I should offer this in collaboration with the JB team. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think it were better than the original.

So what’s good about this particular take on the Tropic strap?

First, this strap has just the right amount of curve at the watch-connecting end. It’s not curved enough to look like a bracelet endlink, but it’s also not as straight as a leather strap. Just subtle enough to emulate the real vintage Tropics and appeal to both straight-preferring and curve-preferring audiences.

Second, it addresses a common problem with vintage Tropic straps and its many modern reproductions. The original Tropic strap had square-shaped holes. So, the buckle would eventually round out the square hole after repeated use, and over time, create a tear, resulting in the end-life of the strap.

Alas, modern reproductions of the Tropic strap also faithfully recreated this feature, and unwittingly emulated the premature deaths of the rubber straps. But in the JB Tropic strap, holes that serve a practical purpose – that which that accept the buckle- are circles, while the other holes stay true to the original square aesthetics. This greatly enhances the longevity of the strap. I have found this reinterpretation to be a very good upgrade from the original.

And lastly – this version comes with an original NOS Tropic buckle from the 70s. I haven’t come across other offerings that do this.

I really believe the Joseph Bonnie team has come out with something really special, and that they too would not be doing this if they didn’t see what they can do better than the original. And I’ve got to say – their creation takes my vote over the original any day.