Are you an Osyter fan or a Jubilee fan? Lucky for you, the 1016 came on both and looks great on either. Though each has it’s merits, I’d advocate for having both and changing back and forth, the experience makes you think you have two different watches (without shelling out for another).
Below is a breakdown of the different bracelets that came with the 1016. I have yet to have a lot of personal experience with the smaller market bracelets that were outsourced by Rolex (the Mexican and South American bracelets, for example) — so don’t consider this list exclusionary but more of a starting point.
- 7206 rivet with 58 end links (EL) (non-expandable; 1960-1972)
- 6636 rivet with 58 EL (spring links; 1960-1972)
- C&I rivet with unlabeled EL (non-expandable, for watches from the USA; 1960-1977)
- 7836 folded-link oyster with 280 EL (1967-198?)
- 78360 solid-link oyster with 580 EL (1975-end of production)
Introduced in 1954, the 7206 and the 6636 are Swiss bracelets that are favored for their fit over the C&I. The C&I was purportedly made by Rolex USA because of the import duty associated with importing the Swiss versions. All three bracelets come with 12 links (7 on the adjustable side and 5 on the other). As of 1964, the reference numbers (7206 and 6636) are stamped on the center link closest to the EL on the side with 7 links. The rivets on the 7206 and 6636 are solid whereas the C&I bracelet rivets have holes in them. The unlabeled ELs on the C&I are also flatter and longer than the 58 ELs, leading to a less flush fit than their Swiss counterparts.
One note about the rivet ELs — while parts catalogues had 58 ELs for Explorers and GMTs and 80 ELs on Submariners, bracelets were often attached at the time of purchase and sometimes switched in the process. If you’re buying a new bracelet, I’d look to get the ‘proper’ links, but if it’s a period correct bracelet with 80 ELs, it may very well have been bought that way.
Like the dials, model bracelets appear to have been made with significant overlap. The folded-link 7836 was introduced in 1967 but the Swiss rivets have date stamps as late as 1972 and the C&I rivets have date stamps until at least 1977. The 7836/280 date stamps stopped in 1972 so it’s hard to know exactly how late into the 1980’s these were made. The 78360/580 solid-link was introduced in 1975-76 and is seen on 1016s until the end of production, again having a large overlap with the folded-link bracelet. There are lettered date codes on bracelets after 1975 that correspond to their year of production. A number of websites have charts to tell you what letters correspond to what year(s).
With any date stamp / code, do not expect an exact match to the case back date stamp or the serial number “year.” The parts are made separately, at different times, the serial number-year link are inaccurate estimates, and many watches were attached to their bracelets at the time of sale. A 2-3 year range between bracelets and watches is considered appropriate.
- 6251 jubilee bracelet with 50 end links (Hecho en Mexico can be seen)
- 62510H jubilee bracelet with 550 end links
There’s not as much to say about the jubilees, despite them being just as great an option as the oyster. The 6251 jubilee is Swiss made and has open sides to the links (i.e. folded metal), whereas it’s replacement, the 62510H, has solid links. The 6251/50 also began in the 1950’s and can be seen on early 1016s until the mid-1970s. I am not sure how late the 6251/50 goes (please let me know if you have valid information to share). The 62510H was introduced in 1976, which corresponds to an “A” stamp on the clasp, so it was at least until that time. The 62510H is then seen on 1016’s until the end of their production run. Here’s a site with clasp codes and which years they correspond to.
I would advise you to look out for fakes of both types of bracelets – they are rampant and I would do your homework and ask around. There are small tells that you can find for each bracelet to see if they’re aftermarket. If you’re in the market, buy the seller and head to the forums to see what I mean, they’re extensively discussed there.