Rolex Becomes World’s Most Expensive ESD Strap

Anti-static ESD straps are de rigueur in lab settings for those working with sensitive electronics. They’re a simple protective device, and one that generally doesn’t warrant a second thought. However, [Daniel Bogdanoff] figured they could stand to be a little more fashionable, and set to work on a fancier design.

The first step was to take a look at a regular ESD strap. Typically, they consist of a band that fastens around the wearer’s wrist, with a metal stud for connecting to the earthing lead. The earthing lead contains a high resistance to limit the discharge current to avoid ugly high-energy shorts when wearing the strap.

The metal stud is attached to a replacement link on the ROLEX’s strap, making the modification neat, tidy, and reversible.

With a good understanding of the basics, [Daniel] set about modifying a CASIO calculator watch for practice. After soldering a metal stud to the watch case failed, a second attempt with conductive epoxy worked great. The watch could be connected to the earthing strap, and an ESD tester confirmed the device was doing its job.

But unfortunately, permanently modifying the borrowed ROLEX wasn’t an option. Instead, [Daniel] limited his work to a single replacement link which could be inserted into the watch band. Hooked up to an earthing strap, the luxury watch also passed a basic ESD test successfully.

[Daniel] notes that while this is a fun experiment, using properly rated safety equipment is best. Additionally, he points out that the ROLEX is likely to do worse than the CASIO for the simple fact that a metal-banded watch is more likely to cause shorts when working on electronics. Of course, if a watch isn’t your thing, consider a ring instead. Video after the break.

26 thoughts on “Rolex Becomes World’s Most Expensive ESD Strap

  1. I think a collar around your neck is the ideal solution. Who wants some metal thing that can short against whatever you are working on on your wrist, eh? A ring would be even worse in that regard, and would quite frankly annoy the heck out of me. Maybe get one of those shock collars for a dog and modify it. This idea is pregnant with possibilities.

    1. Some just wear a normal ESD wrist strap around their legs right above a foot with the other end fastened around a table leg or something.
      You just need the discipline of always remembering to reconnect it when returning to the desk.

      1. I’ve done that much less annoying than a wrist- but don’t tend to bother with the connecting/reconnecting stuff anymore – just have it on the floor and step on it (rather thick carpet usually – so its well sprung into the foot but not as uncomfortable as on the hard floors). Obviously requires bare feet, but who needs shoes at your ESD work area? Also perhaps less wise if working with higher voltages – should you screw up its going to earth through more of you not just your hand, one is a very bad day, the other quite possibly lethal…

        I did try using potent magnet in place of the usual pop stud for automatic reconnecting – works well enough at grabbing the band round the ankle, but to be that effective its a big ol’ NdFeB so hits with quite a snap, tricky to engineer in a way that will be durable, comfortable and you need to really upgrade the earthing cable to take the rather large separation forces. So after the proof of concept and a slightly bruised ankle never went back to it, fun but probably never practical.

  2. I used an ESD wrist strap as a watch band for many years.

    I had a nice looking Casio. I wore it all the time.

    Rather than take the watch off at work, I just threaded the ESD strap between the watch band pins and the watch housing. That way, I could leave the watch on while working.

    The ESD band was the most comfortable watch band I ever had.

    1. Remember the ads years ago? What a Rolex says?

      At the time it said “I have so much money I don’t care what time it is”

      I think the reliability has improved. I hope so, at least. My old man’s was in the shop at least once a year, and was good for a couple months after that.

      I don’t have the money to find out, myself.

    1. That probably depends what your work is. It sounds like your work might involve machines that move under their own power. My keyboard is unlikely to grab any of my rings though, and my mouse probably won’t throttle me with my necklace.

      1. I do electronics and mechanical. But rings are just a bad idea. Even people that dont deal with what I do have issues with rings getting caught and fingers degloved (Seriously, dont search for that) or smashed requiring them to be cut off.

  3. I doubt that people wearing a Rolex, or any other watch with a metal bracelet, wear it tight enough to ensure that it will “Pass” when subjected to the test their supposed to take each time they affix an ESD bracelet to their wrist. There are much better ways to use a watchband in conjunction with an ESD strap that aren’t invasive.

    1. Surely it doesn’t have to be tight. The whole strap is made from conductive metal. I don’t know if you’ve ever had static shocks, but one of the notable things about them is that you don’t need to grab on tightly to the thing you touch to be shocked.

    1. Hey, if you kids won’t wear a smartwatch then that’s your loss. There are a few specific uses for which they are very nice. Not usually the ones they are marketed for though. But yeah, I don’t really get the fascination with expensive devices that only tell time in an age where more than satisfactory accuracy can be had in a watch that costs pennies. Also, my own smartwatch is a couple generations behind b/c I didn’t get it to show off anything.

  4. “Additionally, he points out that the ROLEX is likely to do worse than the CASIO for the simple fact that a metal-banded watch is more likely to cause shorts when working on electronics.”

    I so wanted to point out that a metal watchband isn’t a good idea when reaching into an electronic device then you beat me to it in the very end! I’ve heard some bad stories about wedding rings and high voltage too!

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