Watch Strap Inspiration: Seiko "Rolex Bubbleback" Homage

Seiko "Rolex Bubbleback" Homage Watch Inspiration

Welcome to the next in this series of Watch Inspiration blogs where the founder of The Thrifty Gentleman, Jonathan, shares his thoughts on which of our watch straps perfectly matches a watch from his personal collection.

In the first in the series, Jonathan looked at the Casio AE-1200WH, also known as the "Casio Royale" and how he came to pick the James Bond Marine Nationale watch strap to go with it. This time we're going for something a little bit different.

That's enough for the intro though, let's hear from Jonathan on this week's watch and the watch strap he has chosen.


Firstly, I hope you enjoyed last week's blog. It was fun sharing some of my own thoughts on how my mind works when matching a watch strap to one of my watches. Hopefully you took some inspiration from the article. This time around we have something a little different in store.

Those who have followed me for a while will know that a personal hobby of mine is building my own watches. A short caveat here is that I'm not talking about anything too complex, moreso taking the separate elements (case, dial, hands, movement) and putting them together into a fully functioning automatic timepiece.

1940s Rolex Bubbleback

I love taking inspiration from the classics and emulating something, often with my own twist. I also only build these watches for my own personal enjoyment.

One of my first attempts at a watch build / modification was inspired by a lucky internet search, which guided me towards a truly delightful cream dialled, vintage Rolex which had been paired with black outlined mercedes hands.

A little bit of research online and I realised the watch I had found was a 1940s mechanical Bubbleback from Rolex. The original watch had a 31mm width case - a small watch now-adays but perfectly proportioned.

After undertaking some searching online to find a homage watch or kick starter watch brand that emulated this gorgeous timepiece, I quickly realised that I would, for sure, remain disappointed. Therefore, the idea to "do-it-yourself" came to mind.

The case and the movement I knew would be relatively easy to source, but to find a dial and hands that truly did this build justice would be slightly more difficult.

Fortunately I was able to find a set of aftermarket mercedes watch hands in a similar style and luck was on my side - I was able to find an original Seiko dial on an extremely beaten up second hand watch that gave me enough of the elements to be the base of my build. A couple of DIY hours later and my Bubbleback homage was complete!

Nowhere near as beautiful as the original of course, but I was extremely happy with the end result. But watches aren't just for looking at in a watch box or on a bedside table - I wanted to wear it. One thing was now missing - a strap!


This time my considerations were a little different to the Casio as this was a self-built watch. Whereas there is a lot of inspiration that can be found online for most watches, with this one, I was starting with a blank sheet of paper.

However I already had an idea in mind and I had 2 straps I thought would pair nicely with this watch build. The hardest thing might be choosing between them. So, what criteria got me to these 2 choices?

Design Specs

One thing I wanted to honour when choosing my watch strap was the basis of the watch build - the 1940s Rolex Bubbleback. We're talking about an exquisite vintage watch from the 1940s here. My watch would never be as luxurious as the original however paying homage to the tradition of the original watch seemed almost a non-negotiable.

The Rolex Bubbleback that inspired this watch build was complemented by a vintage brown leather watch strap and so this heavily influenced one of the options that came to mind.

However, I was falling in love... in love with the beautiful cream dial with accented black mercedes hands. I just couldn't get the black and cream combination out of my head. Vintage brown leather strap? Sure. But was there also another option?!

How It Wears

I mentioned earlier that the original watch that had influenced my build had a 31mm case - a perfectly standard sized watch in the 1940s but on the smaller side these days. My watch, although with its similarities, has a 40mm diameter case. I haven't seen the original Rolex Bubbleback in person, but I can only imagine is featherweight in comparison to my homage.

Although bigger than the original, my watch build is a very standard size and weight and with its resilience, I thought a leather watch strap would be a great option for this watch.

Additionally, with its polished stainless steel case, there were no design elements / intricacies that need to be taken into consideration. Therefore, from my perspective we had very few elements limiting our watch strap style options.

Technical Specs

I have already talked about the case size but what of the watch's lug width? Fortunately my watch build has a very standard lug width. This time around it is 20mm.

We previously assessed at The Thrifty Gentleman which sized watch straps were the most popular and sold the most and it was our 20mm straps. Therefore, although we have watch strap options in a huge variety of sizes, if your watch has a 20mm lug width, you will find more options at The Thrifty Gentleman than any other.

Good news for this watch - loads of options!


Now, before I start looking into watch straps, I am fully aware that the watch I have picked today is close to a one-of-a-kind. Therefore, you may be asking, "what use is this to me?". Good question!

The basis of my choices have been based on 2 key things - the colour of the dial (cream) and the style of the watch (traditional / vintage). The watch strap I have chosen below is one that I think would be a fantastic choice for any watch in these categories / stylings, as well as for many others.

As I mentioned previously, this time around I really struggled to choose between 2 watch straps. So, rather than immediately showing you the final strap choice, I am going to show you those options:

Firstly, we have the Smooth Grain Vintage Leather watch strap in Medium Brown.

When I was thinking of a watch strap that would truly reflect the origins of the watch, this was the strap I had in mind.

Next to that watch strap, we have the Smooth Grain Leather watch strap in Black. The black and off white stitching combination of this strap was exactly what I had in mind for the elegance and colour of the dial and the black mercedes watch hands.

This wasn't going to be an easy choice and to be perfectly honest, I think both watch straps would have looked fantastic. But a choice had to be made.

Well, without further ado - the final choice!

Heart won over head this time. Head was telling me to stick to the origins and choose the vintage brown leather strap, but my heart won with the strap that highlighted the colourings of the watch dial and hands.

And it is therefore my delight to share with you the final result.

Seiko Bubbleback Homage with black leather watch strap with off white stitching


I hope you have enjoyed the first two blogs in our Watch Inspiration series. As this series continues we will be sharing a variety of watches and strap choices to hopefully give you some inspiration for when you're next picking out a watch strap.

We would also love to hear from you. What did you think of today's watch strap choice? Would you have picked this strap, the vintage brown leather strap, or a completely different watch strap instead? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

With so many watch strap options available and so many different watch styles we know it can sometimes be a daunting task picking a new one.

Therefore, if you ever want some advice on your next watch strap purchase from The Thrifty Gentleman you can also contact us.

We would be delighted to help!

Back to blog

Leave a comment