Last year we published an article titled “Getting into Rubber” where we undertook the most comprehensive review of Rubber straps for watches comparing 13 straps from 8 manufacturers on 6 watches.
One of those companies was Vanguard Speciality Straps who while they were a relatively new company producing straps for the Tudor Black Bay, were keen to hear feedback on their product as they were well aware that this was their first offering in the space. The strap was priced competitively as a luxury strap. The design and fit of the strap was great however in our opinion there were two areas that let the strap down. Firstly the tang buckle provided with the strap was certainly not commensurate of a quality strap, and while it was possible to pair the strap with Tudors deployant clasp, not all Tudor owners would have one of these as they were only provided on a Black Bay purchased on a leather strap. Secondly while the silicone rubber that the strap was made from was indeed soft, it was certainly not of the quality that compared to other premium straps. However the design, fit and comfort of the strap were excellent.
Since then, Vanguard have been working hard to address these two issues and provided us with one of their newer MK2 rubber straps.
Firstly Vanguard have changed their packaging to create a smaller and more slender box. This may well help with international shipping and is certainly kinder on the environment using less materials.
The new buckle Is a substantial improvement. It is 316L forged with a brushed finish and is much more substantial than their last buckle. The underside is grooved to allow the strap to recess into it helping it sit well on the wrist and the top features the Vanguard logo etched into it.
The change of rubber to FKM Vulcanised Rubber is also a substantial improvement. The newer matt finish still feels soft and supple but certainly looks and feels more of a premium texture. As you might expect, it’s dust & UV resistant and anti-allergenic. In addition we found it far less susceptible to attracting lint and fingerprints caused by oils and grease on your skin leaving a much improved experience for the wearer.
Overall it would be easy to assume that these two changes are relatively insignificant but the impact they make is more substantial than you might expect. The newer strap feels a substantial improvement delivering a high quality strap that pairs well with a premium watch at a competitive price.
Vanguard have been working hard to increase the diversity of watches they manufacture straps for and currently include Submariner, Daytona, GMT Master II, Datejust, and Explorer II amongst others. Vanguard are also working on a variant for the Black Bay 58 which we think will be in high demand. In addition we also know that they are prototyping straps for the Omega Seamaster range which we think will be a big hit among the watch community.
You can tell the measure of a company by the way it listens to and values its customers and their feedback. We have been impressed with the engagement of vanguard and their approach. While vanguard are not the first to offer premium fitted rubber straps in this space, they are interested in feedback and listen to their customers.
After having had the opportunity to wear this strap on a Tudor Black Bay for a few months we can attest to how well its made. In our opinion it’s a great choice for those wanting a rubber option that will be both comfortable and durable without compromising quality.
Vanguard Straps are available direct from their website – www.vanguardstraps.com for $130
Links to items in this article:
Vanguard integrated rubber strap for Tudor Heritage Black Bay