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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How To Find The Right Watch Strap

The Swiss brands of watches usually charge excruciatingly high prices for a watch band. And so they should. When they charge 29k for a watch head with a leather strap and deployment clasp then when the customer tries to dismantle the price - like an investment banker might - how much for the head? how much for the deployment? how much for the strap? what's the box worth? I'll give you 20 - you would assume that they have to inflate the value of the watch strap itself. For this reason a Cartier watch strap in genuine crocodile leather on Ebay will set you back around 450 USD (see watch strap third from left).

A chap in Miami recently quoted me on a green ostrich leather watch strap for 550 USD and another in Singapore quoted 270 AUD for a custom made crocodile watch strap. Not unreasonable considering it would be made to whatever specifications you requested but it wouldn't have a glazed finish like the Cartier but by contrast you could pick the part of the skin you wanted. However, it's still a lot of money for the average Joe looking to refurbish his vintage watch.

Ebay on the other hand offers a great deal of variety in watch straps. Ebay stores such as Holben's offers a wide variety of brands from DeBeers (which are very good for the price) and Hirsch as well as quality deployment clasps by the brand Hadley Roma. They offer very reasonable solutions from legitimate brands selling faux exotic skins (eg: stamped crocodile cow hide). Exotic skins are also offered by DeBeers and Hirsch and you only need to search a string such as "Hirsch 18mm genuine crocodile" in Ebay for you to find very reasonable exotic skins which, when coupled with a decent quality deployment clasp, will give you a very good after market watch strap.

There is however an emerging market of lesser known watch strap companies which are emerging out of countries such as Vietnam where you can purchase very excellent and well crafted watch bands which are available in exotic skins. Although they are not finished as well as a glazed Cartier watch strap they can be sourced in some really interesting skins such as python and ostrich and in a number of colours which you won't find anywhere else. Using companies such as these you can achieve an exotic skin watch strap and deployment clasp for less than $100 AUD.

Deployment clasps come in a variety of colours and shapes but so far my favourite quality has been the Hadley Roma butterfly clasp in gold. It will set you back approximately 57 USD but the make of these clasps is much better than their Chinese counterparts. Amongst the Chinese brands, one company that ships out of Hong Kong seems to make the best so far and the price varies from 8 - 40USD.

As for watch straps, my recommendation is to first purchase a DeBeers faux exotic skin watch strap in black or brown. It will last a minimum six months before it shows signs of any wear and to start with a cheaper made butterfly deployment clasp. Once you have experimented with attaching your leather strap to a deployment clasp and then to your watch head, you will be ready to pursue some more funky options. For funky options I recommend purchasing a brightly coloured exotic skin from those Ebay stores offering such items and I would then invest in a better made deployment clasp by the likes of Hadley Roma.

An example of a crocodile skin in purple with contrasting blue stitching and Hadley Roma deployment clasp

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