Tuesday, September 6, 2016

OMG Moment: Seiko Prospex Emperor Tuna SBDX011 Catastrophic Rubber Strap Disintegration Incident – Strap Replacement / Alternatives

On Sunday, I took out my Seiko Prospex Emperor Tuna SBDX011 (http://easternwatch.blogspot.com/2013/12/seiko-marine-master-professional-1000m.html) from storage to wear it. I wanted to take it out for a hike at a park in Putrajaya. I got this watch directly from Japan in December of 2013.

As usual, I would take some customary wrist shots as a memento of the occasion. Suddenly, I felt the watch going limp on my wrist. It was a good thing that my other hand was free and I quickly, without thinking, caught the watch. It dawned on me that the strap has failed and the watch was just about to take a one meter fall straight down to my car park’s concrete floor. A definite #OMG moment for me and I broke into a cold sweat.

The strap broke clean off without warning. The sudden and complete failure of the rubber material was very disconcerting to me. In fact, you can start to see bits and pieces of the strap starting to break off.

I brought up this issue with my friends on the Malaysia Watch Forum (http://www.malaysiawatchforum.com) where I found out a number of them also suffered the same problem like mine. I guess I was luckier than some as I was able to catch the watch before it could smash on the floor.

This got me thinking. There must be a way to design a rubber strap to help eliminate such a catastrophic failure. Actually there is. Embed a mesh of threads inside the rubber is one of the simplest method to stop the strap from completely detaching itself. How come Seiko did not incorporate this design into their rubber straps?

Anyway, this is one feedback that I hope Seiko listens to and takes action.

My friends also told me (confirmed by reports on the internet) that Seiko’s rubber strap usually last about two years. This sounds about right (mine lasted at least from December 2013 when I got it via Higuchi Japan right up to September 2016).

As a collector, I usually make sure my collections are kept stock. I am not into swapping straps or bracelets as a form of styling. Because of this incident, I am now forced to change the strap. However, I am at lost at what I should get.

Keeping strictly to my collection philosophy, I should be looking at a replacing it with an original Seiko strap. Instead of rubber, I would choose the SEIKO Parts Silicon Strap 22mm "Titanium Buckle, holder" R01X011N9. This is more consistent with the original rubber strap on the SBDX011 (the reference code for the standard strap is DFL3EB). However, this strap cost USD199! Eventually I will need to get it so that I can maintain the ‘stock standard’ of my collection.

In the meantime, most of my friends suggest Isofrane or silicon straps. Some also suggest I get a jubilee style bracelet for it. When I went to the internet to check, I was stunned by the amount of options available for the SBDX011.

The options were too plentiful for me to make a quick choice. While foraging in my drawers of spare parts, I happened to come across a canvas Velcro strap which was given to me as a gift a few years ago. I decided to plop it on the Emperor Tuna to see how it would look.

I was presently surprised to see how well it turned out. It made the watch look smart. I was actually pleased with it. The Velcro 'clasp' is non-distinguishable from other parts of the strap. This symmetry appeals to me.

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