Do you want the best mesh watch bracelet for your budget? Here’s how to tell the difference between the best Milanese mesh and cheap watch bands...
Are you seeking the best mesh watch bracelet you can afford to upgrade a timepiece or complement a new watch? Or a watch strap replacement? Or maybe you just love mesh bracelets and want another? Unfortunately, not every mesh wristband displays similar quality. Here’s how to tell the best from the rest…Whatever your reason for buying a mesh watch strap, you want the most for your budget. You can pay hundreds for a luxury German Milanese mesh bracelet. Alternatively (caveat emptor – buyer beware) mesh wristbands can cost only a few dollars! With a quality stainless steel mesh watch strap starting around $40 (£31), you might be tempted to ‘go cheap’. Even when your $5 bracelet arrives, first impressions may be positive.
You get what you pay for
Unfortunately, looks and feel can deceive. Different types of watch band have different characteristics and appeal to different tastes. When you buy a mesh Milanese band, you really do get what you pay for. Mindful of the price differences between cheap mesh bracelets and higher-quality equivalents, here are some things to look for...
1. First impressions matter
Comparing bracelets is hard without one of known quality for comparison – so all the more reason to buy from reputable brands. The best mesh bracelets have denser weave and more metal for a given length, which can mean a 10–15% weight difference. It’s also worth holding the mesh up to light, as it’s harder to see through denser, better-quality weaves. The same applies if you try to curl a mesh bracelet watch band in your hand. Looser woven cheap meshes bend more tightly.
2. Not all stainless steel is the same
When new, bracelets made from different stainless steel grades may appear identical. However, there’s an important difference between lower-grade 304 steel meshes and those of the more corrosion-resistant 316L stainless steel (containing Molybdenum). Better suppliers, including Geckota, pay extra for the latter.
3. Let’s twist! Or not!
No, we’re not revisiting the 1950s, although your steel mesh watch strap may be destined to adorn a watch from that period.
This twist refers to your mesh strap’s alignment. It’s interesting when what initially appears to be a similar quality metal mesh strap clearly hasn’t been woven with equal precision. Well-made bracelets align accurately with their clasp and look (and feel) straight. You shouldn’t need to twist it into shape.
4. Straight talking about mesh
Twisted mesh weave is one indicator of an inferior Milanese watch bracelet. Another is the alignment of the locking bar and clasp. When you attach the mesh to your watch and attempt to fasten the bracelet, the hooks and clasp should engage with precision and fasten firmly without needing manipulation. Again, having to bend components to make the clasp secure firmly indicates inferior quality.
5. You buy workmanship as well as metal
Your bracelet’s steel (it is stainless steel, isn’t it?) may look similar to quality mesh, but the workmanship, machining, assembly and quality control clearly isn’t. With a stainless mesh watch band you aren’t just buying metal. You’re buying a certain standard of manufacturing, assembly and quality control. It’s the same for simple mesh bracelets or premium German-made Milanese mesh.
6. A great finish
Interestingly, a Milanese mesh isn’t woven in long ‘belt-like’ lengths, but in sheets that are cut to size and finished. Finishing quality is critical for the bracelet’s edges to feel smooth and avoid the roughness of cheap mesh. The higher selling price of quality mesh bracelets also reflects better plating processes, greater plating thickness and thorough abrasion testing.
7. Count on customer support…
Customer service and support also differentiates quality suppliers from purveyors of inferior, cheap watch bands.
Unfortunately, because retail price is low compared to the time and cost of making returns, many disappointed buyers probably put their mistake down to experience and discard the inferior mesh.
On the other hand, reputable suppliers will stand by their products. In the rare event of problems, you can expect a prompt resolution with a refund or replacement. Maybe also a modest thank you gift for bringing the issue to their attention.. Do you think you’ll get a similar response from the supplier of your ‘$5 bargain’ metal watch bracelet?
Buy the best mesh bracelet you can afford
Now you know what distinguishes the best mesh watch bracelet from others, there’s no excuse for putting yourself through the disappointment and wasted money of a bad buy! You deserve the best mesh bracelet you can afford. Go on and treat yourself!
*Originally published in 2018