Saturday, October 12, 2013

Watch Strap: material, Design, Price, Maintenance

 Various Type of Watch Straps

Watch Strap
Often overlooked, a strap is perhaps the least expensive but most indispensable component of a wristwatch.
Straps can be easily changed to suit moods, styles or outfits, from tactical to tasteful. While they come in a countless variety of colors, materials and styles, straps can be broken down into a few main categories.
While thick leather straps with contrast stitching are often found on beefy sports watches, such as those from Panerai, Rolex Daytona, Roger Debuis, Whilst thinner, more exotic skins are still the choice for high-end dress watches Like Rolex Cellini, Omega De Ville… AP dress watch.
The first watch straps were made of leather, a natural material that was cheap and readily available. Early wristwatches were developed for foot soldiers in the First World War, who needed to be able to quickly check the time or time enemy artillery without fumbling in a pocket for their watches. They were nothing more than pocket watches with strap bars welded on each ends, the leather strap was wrapped and riveted.

Watches continued this way for decades, but as these “wristlets” replaced pocket watches as the predominant fashion, straps evolved. They became thinner and less crude, and removable spring bars allowed for changing of straps without rivets.

Most of the straps nowadays we see have not changed much from these mid-century leather ones.

Generally, leather is more preferable as it will not cause skin allergy like those Plastic.

Now straps can be made from animal skin as the main stream like cowhide, calf leather, horsehide, crocodile, lizard, Snake skin, horse tail*,  ostrich skin, more recently, satin (Cartier and Piaget), synthetic fibre, silicon Rubber are also being used for watch strap.

We’ll call all of these “leather” straps. While thick leather straps with contrast stitching are often found on beefy sports watches, such as AP T3!  Thinner, more exotic skins are still the choice for high-end dress watches, since they tend to complement a suit with leather shoes and a belt.

NATO Strap
At the other end of the strap spectrum is the humble nylon strap. These one-piece straps, which can be bought for little more USD$10-20, were first developed for the British military. Designed to run across the back of a watch and through the spring bars, nylon straps are cheap, but they may also be the best way to save your expensive watch since, if one spring bar breaks, the watch remains on your wrist thanks to the continuous one-piece loop. The straps are often known as NATO straps because they were given a stock number by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for use by soldiers and divers.

I used to make fun on some of the people as NATO, (No Action, Talk Only!)

Ironically, NATO straps have become hugely popular with hipsters and fashionists, and are sold in a rainbow of colors and striped patterns by everyone from J.Crew to J.Press. Most noticeable sample is James Bond 007 Submariner on NATO strap. And the latest Tudor coming with Orange Grey band Nato like strap for 2013 Tudor’s diver watch.

Rubber Strap
Rubber straps have a long association with sports watches, and they lend themselves well to this use. Supple, comfortable and resistant to water and sweat, rubber straps are most often found on dive watches. In the 1960s, the first rubber straps were called “Tropic” straps, and the rubber used was stiff and often became brittle. But at the time they were a better choice than leather for obvious reasons and were cheap and easy to replace when they wore out. Now, high-quality rubber straps can be found on even expensive dive watches and can cost hundreds of dollars on their own.

Metal Strap
The last main genre of watch strap is the metal bracelet. First popularized by Rolex for its early sports watches, metal bracelets have many obvious advantages. They are very durable, resistant to anything you expose them to and nonabsorbent. They tend to be cooler and more comfortable in hot weather and can be sized to very precise fit using micro-adjusting clasps. Typically rendered in stainless steel, but also in titanium or gold, metal bracelets are perhaps the most popular kind of band on most watches
sold today.

Single or double Fold  Deployant Clasp would be equipped for more higher end watch to prevent watch drop out.
Some of the expensive Double Fold Deployant Clasp and crocodile leather can be sold as expensive as HKD$30,000 like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Roger Dubuis. Rolex has never product the single or double Fold deployant Clasp, but I sued to customer made some like the one shown below.

More expensive watch has safety buckle that prevents watch dropping out

In Short,  Rubber for lower cost watch, flexible, durable, water  and sweat friendly.
Silicon Rubber is the variety of Rubber, happened on latest  AP Royal Oak and Hublot Big Bang!
Leather, thicker and wider for bigger watch, while thinner for Dress watch.
Fine lizard leather is expensive to use as it will not last long, probably well taken care of, 1-2 years if you wear it every day.

Size of a strap is measured in mm as the width between the two watch lugs.

Genuine Rolex Crocodile strap price from HKD$1,500 onward. Some of the street shop selling Rolex leather Strap at 1/3 or ½ price but many of them are fake.
Genuine Rolex Solid 18 KT Gold Watch buckles HKD$5,000, there are a lot of fake one made of 18KT solid gold at much cheaper price.
There are also gold plated Rolex buckles selling at HKD$200. Of course Fake one, we can see a lot at SSP AP Liu Street.
Some of the branded genuine Crocodile strap selling HKD$5,000 , that is price of a Louis Vitton leather belt!
How to Choose the type of Crocodile Strap,
I always look for larger square pattern as that is more expensive area of the crocodile. And I think it can easily been told that is not Lizard which is not as durable n general as crocodile and usually cheaper.
I have seen also very expensive Lizard skin watch strap, very thin and elegant, matching with the World thinnest dress watch.
So in short the thicker the bigger works well with bigger thicker watch, while thinner one for dress watch.

Rolex Does not offer many colour other than Brown, Black, hopefully more would be offered by end of 2013 after the new BaselWorld Exposure of the latest Leather strap Rolex Day Date!

Many colour strap are now available for different size, however it has to be custom order, good quality Crocodile strap with 20mm price between HKD$600-900, three weeks delivery time.
The leather has been dipped with Water repellent liqueur and that could last longer comparing with ordinary watch strap.

After walking under Summer’s Sun, it would be good to use some tissues to absorb some of the sweat.
Leather loves to be cared and some of the leather nourish grease would be applied on the strap sparingly, especially on the thread and use some of the colon cloth to wipe off extra grease, then the leather will give you a shine of lustre for many years!

A Hi tech Bra would enhance your Balcony Construction with a Safe and Prominent look !

A elegant ultra thin Lizard Skin Watch Strap matches with a Dress watch profile properly.

I still collect a NOS genuine Rolex Horse Hair watch strap, extremely Rare.
HK Snob

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