Speedy Tuesday – Hands-on with the new Forstner “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet A modern alternative to those expensive JB eBay purchases by Robert-Jan BroerDecember 10, 2019 MIN READSpeedy Tuesday – Hands-on with the new Forstner “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet
A few months ago, I pre-ordered a Forstner “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet. The Forstner brand was resurrected and started to produce those weird-looking mesh bracelets again that could be seen on the wrists of NASA’s astronauts.
These bracelets are often better known as JB Champion bracelets. JB stands for Jacoby Bender, and they acquired the Forstner brand (in 1963) before astronauts started to use their “Komfit” bracelets. Both companies were long gone already, but Forstner has recently been brought back to life again. Speedmaster enthusiasts have been responding very positively to the new Forstner company, and I have to say that I shared that excitement as well. Somewhere in October, I decided to make use of their pre-order of $100 (after this pre-order period, the bracelets retail for $125) for this “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet. The same type of bracelet that Neil Armstrong had on his Speedmaster, for example, see below.
Forstner “Komfit” JB Mesh Bracelet
Neil Armstrong examining a rock sample, wearing his Speedmaster on a JB Champion bracelet.
Just a week ago, I received my Forstner “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet, and I thought it would be nice to give it some coverage here for this Speedy Tuesday. Funnily enough, I bought a genuine JB bracelet a few months ago as well, but it wasn’t the same style as this “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet. I always had difficulties spending so much money on a JB Champion Komfit bracelet because, in fact, these aren’t the most solid built bracelets out there. NASA astronauts had their Speedmasters on these bracelets because they would be easier to break than the original Omega bracelets. If something would get stuck between the bracelet and the astronaut’s wrist, NASA rather had the watch lost (or damaged) than the wearer having to lose his hand. So instead of going for the original Omega bracelets, these Speedmasters were put on the JB Champion mesh bracelet. This is the information that Petros Protopapas (Head of Brand Heritage) shared with us more than once about these mesh bracelets. Anyways, with the high market prices of these original JB Champion bracelets, I never could get myself to purchase the “Komfit” mesh model. So the recent re-introduction of Forstner is a very welcome one, as they can offer the “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet for $125 USD.
Another good point is that the original JB Champion mesh bracelet was in 19mm (and the original Forstner Komfit in 18mm), which wouldn’t correctly fit today’s 20mm Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. For this article, though, I decided to put the new Forstner “Komfit” JB Champion bracelet on my Speedmaster’57 60th anniversary watch, which has 19mm lugs anyway. NASA never used the CK2915, but started with the CK2998 (privately bought by Schirra and Cooper). The NASA astronauts used the 105.003, 105.012 and 145.012 during the Apollo program, Armstrong wearing the 105.012 during Apollo 11 (and in the picture above).
Fitting the bracelet
The Forstner “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet comes in a long rectangular white box, with a velvet pillow and two elastic bands that kept the bracelet in place during the shipping. Also inside, you will find a little foil with eight small round protective stickers on it. I missed it at first, but my colleague Daniel (who also ordered a bracelet) pointed them out to me and asked me if I was going to use them to protect the inside of the lugs for the end pieces of the bracelet. I told him probably not, but when fitting the bracelet, I decided to use them anyway.
The end pieces of the Forstner “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet are flexible, which means they can be used for different lug widths (between 16mm and 20mm). You can fit them between the lugs without using a tool, but since they are flexible, I decided to use the lug protector stickers as the end pieces might move a bit and cause unnecessary scratches on the inside of the lugs. It is an effortless task to get the bracelet fitted, but it still doesn’t hurt to watch the video that Forstner put online with some easy and short instructions.
Sizing the bracelet
Once you put the bracelet on the watch, you need to size it for your wrist. If you are not familiar with the original JB Champion mesh bracelets, you will probably need to fiddle around a bit or watch the sizing video on Forstner’s website. It is pretty easy actually, just release the bracelet first, by sliding the small ‘button’ backward. The clasp ‘opens’, and you will have one loose end and can move the bracelet through the first keeper. Just below the lugs, there’s also one fixed part (stamped ‘JB’ on the sides), from which you released the clasp. You will find a small ‘flip lock’ that you can release with your fingernails. Now, you can move that part up and down the bracelet as well. By pushing the flip lock towards the bracelet again, you will have it fixed again. This way, you can size your bracelet quickly without having to use special tools.
Perhaps also noteworthy is that the Forstner Komfit bracelet is a mm wider than the original JB Champion bracelet (16mm instead of 15mm). Forstner did this to make it a better fit for today’s Speedmaster (Professional) watches (with a lug-width of 20mm).
The Forstner “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet is pretty light-weight and wears very comfortable on the wrist, basically as most mesh bracelets do. The quality of the bracelet is much better than I expected it to be (given the price of $125USD compared to the price of the original Omega bracelets). It is definitely not the same quality as original Omega bracelets, but neither were the original JB Champion bracelets, so in that regard, it is all fine. But I was happily surprised to see that the bracelet is actually so well-designed and thought-through. Although the bracelet can slide from left to right on the end pieces, it will not ‘hit’ the lugs, so no risk of damage there. The bracelet nowhere feels sharp or unpleasant and feels quite solid despite the light-weight. Releasing the clasp might need some practice, but also here, you won’t find any sharp parts that will hurt your fingers. The clasp and its mechanism is well designed and feels robust. In short: the bracelet is nicer and ‘more’ than I expected it to be. It is a very cool alternative to the original Omega bracelets, especially if you are interested in the NASA history combined with the Speedmaster watches the astronauts wore. It is a pity I don’t have my caliber 321 pre-Moon Speedmaster at home, otherwise, I would have fitted it to that watch, as it makes a historically ‘better’ fit than this Speedmaster’57 60th anniversary.
Price and Availability
I think the new Forstner did an excellent job with the “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet. They deliver a better product than I expected for the $125 USD price, and the price is very justified, in my opinion. I also think this price point is very smart, as it is something ‘fun’ you can add to your Speedmaster. It is something different than adding the XXth leather strap or NATO strap to your Speedy. Of course, you can also fit this “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet to one of your other watches, as some of the astronauts did as well. You can find some helpful OmegaForum threads on the original mesh bracelets here and here.
I think this Forstner “Komfit” JB mesh bracelet is a no-brainer for any Speedmaster fan out there, especially if you are – like me – not prepared to put down a few hundred on the original JB Champion mesh bracelet. There are two versions of the bracelet, a short one and the original one. The short one can be sized between 11cm and 20cm and the original one between 14cm and 23cm.
You can order yours via the official Forstner website.
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About the author
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in… read more
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