The ultimate calf-cow leather strap for Apple Watch thread

Discussion in 'Apple Watch Accessories' started by mhoutman, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. mhoutman, Feb 9, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016

    mhoutman macrumors regular

    mhoutman

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    #1
    Despite The Great "Third Party Band/Strap" Thread, I miss a thread on luxury leather straps for our Apple Watch. In particular interested in bands made of calf- or cow leather so not alligator, salamander or other species.

    As a collector of vintage IWC's and Rolex’s I do enjoy the look of a leather straps on watches. Of course never compare these with the Apple Watch being a totally different watch.

    I bought my first Apple Watch steel 42 mm last september when it became available in the Netherlands. I got it with the black Sport band and additionally bought an Apple Milanese band and PRODUCT red one. As stand I got an ElevationLab NightStand. BTW this stand is really a terrible design so I ordered an Spigen 350 stand, which suits much better.

    Being an Apple evangelist for 30 years, the Apple Watch was a must have ‘gadget’, wether I would like it or not. Well, I did’t. watchOS 1 was so slow, without twisting your wrist, the screen was hard to read during running and no native apps were available. I waited for watchOS 2 which gave sone improvements on options and speed, but for me wearing the watch all day, it was not optimal. Also important was the fact that I did not wear my mechanical watches anymore. I gave the watch to my eldest son and he wears it now with pride and joy.

    Back to mechanical watches only, I needed another watch for running. I use iSmoothRun on iOS and as I know the developer of iSmoothRun for quite some time I asked him for advise. He told me to buy a Pebble Time as he also makes a native app for Pebble OS so could easily compare. Pebble OS is blinding fast with iSmoothRun so I took the plunge and bought a Pebble Time. I have it now for about 4 weeks and for my use it is a great performer.

    What a big surprise that 2 weeks ago at a sudden a parcel arrived from Germany. Inside was a watch I got as a present from business associate. It became even more pleasant when I found out it was a Hermès Single Tour version in fauve.

    Well, of course I could not refuse this present so I must admit I wear an Apple Watch again and… I love it.

    One of the advantages of the Apple Watch is the ease of switching straps. As there was only one strap with the Apple Watch I wanted to buy some others (again). The Hermès strap is of course beautiful, but not for everyday use. I keep it in a drawer for special occasions only.

    No doubt the black Sport band would be my first purchase, simply because it is IMHO the best Apple Watch strap available. The material feels like velvet and wears very pleasant indeed. It is also the cheapest Apple strap.

    What about a milanese again ? It is lovely build, relatively cheap compared to the other Apple metal bands, but IMHO not in par with the looks of a smart watch. I have some vintage milanese straps for an IWC Mk XII and XV but with the high tech Apple Watch it felt not right. That said, it might perfectly fit with the Hermès watch faces, so I have to further investigate that. If somebody has a picture ?

    No other steel bracelet Apple Watch bands for me. Sure people love them but they are too pricey for what they actually weight. Don’t shoot, I am just too much used to the heavy vintage watches.

    What about leather then ? The topic of this thread and the material which gives the Apple Watch such a different look.

    Apple has some nice ones, although I prefer the Classic Buckle type. The Modern Buckle band is too expensive for just adding this ridiculous buckle, and the Loop doesn’t look like leather and has no adapter system. A bit an odd design.

    So, if I buy leather it must feel and smell like such and after use it must look and wear as only real (natural) leather can.

    I did some initial research on the Classic Buckle and came not further than some cheap knockoffs, which almost looks the same but are so different on detail. Superphen's Tech Blog was a great help learning and discovering (http://superphen.co)

    I first ordered the Black Buckle (rev 2) because it has a nicer texture (grain) than the saddle brown one. When it arrived the next day, I was pleasantly surprised because it looks actually quite well with the stainless steel Apple Watch.The buckle is well designed and perfectly fits the watch. After I did the smell test, I felt less happy. If I should do some blind testing is also could be some cheap China made plastic object if you know what a I mean. The design of the Classic Buckle is a true Apple design and in mind for a big audience. At the end though, it has nothing to do with ‘real’ leather…

    Did I do wrong buying the black Classic Buckle ? No, of course not as it gives the Apple Watch a distinct look. Especially the adapters play a role in this. After a few days I was in love with the black Classic Buckle so I ordered the saddle brown one. It was of no surprise it looks totally different than the black one. Completely without grain and more like the Hermès strap if not identical in color. Feels smoother too and in a couple of months I hope it will develop a nice patina. Let’s see what some "skin oil" can do… of course from my own skin ;)

    If apart from the smell and leather texture, the Classic Buckle would improve for me the overall look of the Apple Watch, what would other high quality straps do ? So here’s my reason to start this thread.

    During the last days I have been busy looking for other leather straps that came in mind for purchase. Till so far I have not found many though. Perhaps I should first be more clear in my definition of an high quality strap.

    - made of 100% calf- or cow leather
    - made by hand or at least partly hand sewn
    - stitching (please read this excellent article from Mike Rundle https://medium.com/@flyosity/inconvenient-truths-about-the-apple-watch-11bafa44551b#.oasdlmk5d
    - wow effect
    - quality looks on detail etc.

    Bearing in mind the price I pay for IWC leather straps, I would not mind paying USD 100-150 for some above well crafted bands.

    Particularly in the USA but also in Vietnam and Italy, small ateliers make nice leather Apple Watch straps which fulfill a nichae.

    Let’s start with the first that came in mind as it is also the first leather straps I read about middle 2015 anyway.

    The Nomad strap. http://www.hellonomad.com/products/strap Nice natural leather with ditto stitching, awesome wear after use, a Panerai like buckle (which I don’t like for its huge size) but probably made somewhere in China so with a price tag of USD 150 overpriced. See the knockoffs on Amazon which look almost the same but with a friendlier pice. http://www.amazon.com/iStrap-Vintag...r_p_img_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1FESSA1YCWN2T53RM8W9

    Hoco make a identical Classic Buckle band which you can buy here http://www.aliexpress.com/item/2016...-Excellent-Top-Layer-leather/32589809110.html and is discussed here http://superphen.co/2016/01/30/revi...assic-buckle-15-us-itunes-gift-card-giveaway/

    But once you have seen the real thing there is no way back.

    Some Etsy mentions:

    Black Forrest Ateliers (Vietnam) this strap comes in my mind https://www.etsy.com/listing/236729589/sale-handmade-vintage-leather-strap

    Pionier1956 (Vietnam) (identical strap as above)
    https://www.etsy.com/listing/235906930/custom-made-vintage-leather-strap-incl

    AttirailStraps (France)
    https://www.etsy.com/listing/236729589/sale-handmade-vintage-leather-strap

    Some mentions if you love NATO or ZULU straps:

    Choice Cuts (USA)
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/choicecuts?ref=l2-shopheader-name

    BuonGustoItaliano (Italy)
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/BuonGustoItaliano?ref=l2-shopheader-name

    E3 Supply Co. (USA)
    http://e3motorcycles.com/collections/watch-bands-for-apple-watch

    I realize that a lot of above straps are a bit the same i.e. with NATO/ZULU look hardware. If you are looking for a NATO/ZULU strap ‘made by Apple’, it might be interesting to wait for the March 15th Apple Event were probably new straps will be announced. Sources say NATO band are among them, but as we all know Apple, they probably will come in some special material and certainly not in leather.

    Some other lovely products from you get at Pad & Quill http://www.padandquill.com/apple-watch-accessories.html but my taste says that should use a light color stitching.

    Last but not least I found a small atelier which makes really beautiful bands: Bexar Goods from Texas USA. http://www.bexargoods.com/collections/watch-straps

    There is hardly info on their bands (some on MacRumors) and most photos are with black hardware only. I contacted them a couple of day sago with some questions and hope to hear from them soon. These straps are definitely above on my shortlist.

    Well I hope you didn’t mind my thoughts and I am looking forward to all comments and contributions
     
  2. Qqueenie macrumors regular

    Qqueenie

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    #2
    Thanks for this write-up! I've got a couple leather bands (mostly cheap leather, but one nice leather band from Arrow & Board) and they give the watch a great look. I'm eying a few bands from Black Forest, Pad & Quill, Lucrin, and Combat Straps.

    And wow, if I had a Hermes single tour I'm not sure I could limit myself to wearing it only on special occasions! I'm sure it's on another level.
     
  3. doubleshot23 macrumors newbie

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    Feb 8, 2016
    #3
    I think using the oil might spoil the saddle brown classic buckle band. I saw many pictures of Hermes apple watch instantly gets dirty when leather oil was applied. Saddle brown classic buckle can also do the same result
     
  4. mhoutman, Feb 9, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016

    mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    #4

    Sorry, I just meant my own skin which has natural greases too* ;)

    *Just an experiment but rub about 10 minutes with your finger on natural leather and see what happens ....
     
  5. Thai macrumors 6502a

    Thai

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    Location:
    Colorado
    #5
    I did that "test" and my Classic buckle saddle brown has gotten slightly darker shade...i feel the saddle brown almost every hour! I love the smooth texture of the band.
     
  6. mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    #6
    then lets go hunting for better bands :)
     
  7. Thai macrumors 6502a

    Thai

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    #7
    So, with frequent rubbing and thus your skin oil on leather, it should not get slightly darker? This Apple classic buckle leather is no good then?

    Yeah, for me, i am done with leather straps...for me, the only one that would get me to buy is Hermes band.
     
  8. mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    #8
    Hermès IMO overhyped but is has true heritage.

    There is always better but to a certain price. Sure the Apple saddle brown's will wear but it takes time ...and patience :)
     
  9. ftlum, Feb 10, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016

    ftlum macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2011
    #9
    You'll find a lot more options by searching for straps that are not specifically supposed to be for an Apple Watch. I got some nice adapters from Clockwork Synergy and put on a Di-Modell Oregon strap. I replaced the buckle with a 3rd party deployant clasp and am happy with the outcome.

    For a 42mm watch, look for straps that are 24mm wide. Mine tapers to 22mm at the buckle end.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. ftlum macrumors regular

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    #10
  11. Mac2me, Feb 10, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016

    Mac2me macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Have you checked out this thread yet (happened to have started it a while ago)? http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/high-end-watch-bands.1895448/

    I plan to order a band from Lucrin (Swiss company) this spring. Link to it is 3rd post down on page 1. So many colors, stitching, leathers to choose from and they now have two different colored adapters. I said I originally never had any plans to do a double tour band but find theirs interesting since I have a 42mm watch and Hermes doesn't offer one in that size. Haven't narrowed down my color yet and will probably request a color swatch before making a final decision.

    From the sounds of your leather comments maybe their smooth cowskin leather would be appealing to you. Suppose you could get a sample of the leather and "feel and smell" it out to see if it's what you like. https://www.lucrin.com/color-swatch.htm
     
  12. mhoutman, Feb 10, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016

    mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    #12
    I really love the band and especially the deployment buckle. Theses are so comfy to wear and are bette for your leather bands. Yet I in this thread I try to discuss bands which are not factory made but handmade and in smaller quantities. I do hope for your understanding :)
    --- Post Merged, Feb 10, 2016 ---
    Sorry, did not read or know your thread. Here I try to talk about calf and cow only and not about leather of some exotic species ;)

    Lucrin has Swiss roots but they are a very big company and my guess is that they make a lot of their straps in the far east. Their quality is fine but than you will also like a Hirsch strap. Companies like Hirsch als make OEM straps for IWC and other premium watch manufacturers. If I would make a comparison: Lucrin and Hirsch are like a Porsche, butI am looking for the Ferrari :)

    Excellent idea to buy a premium strap in spring so you have some more time to see how this thread develops... Mind you, a high end strap could be cheaper than a Lucrin's and if made in a small atelier I would know which one to pick
     
  13. Simche macrumors member

    Simche

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    #13
    I also order the Sadel Brown Classic Buckle (v2) that was reviewed at Superphen's Tech Blog!! I'm really looking forward to it :D

    Btw GREAT post, I appreciate the knowledge and detail you wrote about the bands and other watches etc. :)
     
  14. mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    #14
    Thank you :) Let us know how the Hoco is. Be careful you have ordered the two tone one
     
  15. Simche macrumors member

    Simche

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    #15
    Well the 2:nd Gen classic Buckle from Apple IS two-toned, so I don't mind :)
     
  16. mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    Feb 8, 2016
    #16
    the story continues..

    As written in my initial post, some of he Bexar Goods straps were on my list but as I did not get any reply on two e-mails I wasn’t very eager anymore to bring them my money. Jeez, what is wrong with so many websites not responding at all.

    So, I had to find an alternative which is both premium crafted but also with an affordable price. I knew already about the Pad & Quill products and did some research on different variations etc.

    I contacted Pad & Quill and got immediate and kind response by email.

    Pad & Quill have both an Etsy Store https://www.etsy.com/shop/PadandQuill and a P&D store http://www.padandquill.com/apple-watch-accessories.html and as I also wanted the Classic band in galloper black it found out it was only available on Etsy Store.

    At first I did not understood this but at the end I got the info that they recently modified the Classic Band.

    If you want to see the differences have a clear look at the Brittish Tan one:

    Old Style: https://www.etsy.com/listing/242296711/the-classic-apple-watch-band-by-pad-and
    New Style: https://www.etsy.com/listing/255497696/the-classic-leather-band-for-apple-watch

    The old style is ONLY available as discontinued model on Etsy in British Tan, Wiskey and Galloper Black.

    The new style is both available on Etsy and P&Q’s in British Tan, Wiskey, French Grey and Deep Blue.

    I was only told the leather of the new style is softer and me the strap seems IMO longer. (also more strap holes) I don’t know about different hardware but the new style is only available in silver.

    Last but not least the price of the old stye is a tad lower but keep in mind that some items are almost out of stock.

    So if you want a black band or black hardware visit Etsy, otherwise P&D themselves.

    I ordered the old style in British Tan, Wiskey and Galloper Black. Can’t wait to receive them as they look marvelous.
     
  17. Mac2me, Feb 12, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016

    Mac2me macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Not sure if these will be to your liking but I'll mention these bands from StrapsCo for your consideration. If you are open to using a 3rd party spring bar adapter, I think these bands are great, use nice quality leather and reasonably priced. I have noticed that StrapsCo are starting to carry some bands with the Apple style adapters on them but not a big selection yet. http://www.ebay.com/itm/StrapsCo-Vi...m-42mm-/151798725782?var=&hash=item69016580d9 I've been using my bands with a 3rd party spring bar adapter and have been very pleased.

    1) I own all 4 colors of the Dassari Heritage Soft Vintage Italian Leather bands and absolutely love them. All of the bands have that "leather" smell, which I know is something you said you are looking for. Of the 4 in this series, only the Dune Beige one is a smooth leather which I haven't had long enough but am pretty sure it will patina. The other 3 band colors have a soft nap feel on the top leather. I actually enjoy running my fingers on the soft nappy feel of these. I'm not a fan of the Pre-V buckles either (too large on my wrist I feel) and I liked that his line has the thumbnail buckles installed.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/DASSARI-Her...hash=item25969179db:m:mF3i0EY0p_A1dYa3bAO2SBA

    I don't own any of these yet but believe they will also have that leather smell you seek. Alicia at StrapsCo can probably verify this for you. I have messaged her through the ebay site on a few occasions to ask questions and she has always gotten back to me in a day or two. I recently had a band shipment get "lost" in USPS somewhere between MA and CA with no updated tracking. After a few weeks I asked if she would be willing to send out another shipment which she did and of course a week or two later the first package showed up. She sent me a RMA label to ship back. So in general super happy with their customer service.

    2) Dassari's Salvage Distressed Vintage Italian Leather series has some interesting colors that might appeal to you. I'm actually waiting for the Faded Tan to come back in stock again. All have a contrasting stitching which you indicated you liked the look of. They do come with the Pre-V buckle installed and not sure if they would or could switch that out for you with a thumbnail buckle but worth asking. Of course you could switch out the buckles on any of these bands on your own.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/DASSARI-Sal...hash=item2596922ef2:m:mx0diHPSV3dNXzA72IDWhkA

    3) A third possibility might be the Dassari Bentley Italian Leather Hand Stitched series which come in several colors and stitching options. Pre-V buckle.
    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/DASSARI-Bent...61?pt=US_Watch_Bands&var=&hash=item2595e7100d

    Probably not something you'd be interested in but for point of reference I have several of the Diloy Vintage Distressed Edge Canvas Denin bands which I ordered from StrapsCo. They have a soft brushed bottom leather (that BTW smells like leather) and they came with the same Pre-V buckles as the series above. Nice quality buckles on all. Each band has come with spring bars. Their installed Pre-V buckles have no side holes but come off with a forked spring bar tool and are just a bit more challenging to change out since you can't visualize where the holes are on the inside when reinstalling.
     
  18. mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    #18

    Thanks so much for your contribution :)

    Once and for all it is clear that one should decide himself what price is acceptable. If You pay USD 100 or USD 20 for a knockoff or look al like.

    Some of your straps really remind me of bands that can be found on Etsy and made of Horween leather. Also one is very close to the Nomad strap.
     
  19. jasie02 macrumors 6502a

    jasie02

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    #19
    All Di-Modell are hand made in Germany. Quality is, well german like, super precise and clean clean clean, specially with stitches. The precision of clean stitches put a lot of mom/pop hand stitches band I seen in shame.

    I have a Di-Modell Jumbo with RHD deployant, see thread below. Waterproof to 100-meter, of course hand made in Germany. It will definitely last longer than next couple generations of AW I will be buying.
    http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/apple-classic-buckle-durability.1902951/#post-22403557

    Add: Di-Modell quality link: http://di-modell.com/QUALITY/quality-enaid-8.html
     
  20. Thai macrumors 6502a

    Thai

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    #20
    On eBay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odk...umbo+24.TRS0&_nkw=Di-Modell+Jumbo+24&_sacat=0

    Good prices.
     
  21. jasie02 macrumors 6502a

    jasie02

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    #21
  22. mhoutman, Feb 14, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016

    mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    #22
    Thanks for the link. Perhaps we should better define what "hand made" is. A strap of EUR 32,00 (USD 36) can only be machine stitched otherwise it would bring no profit....or it is made in China or Vietnam etc. where labor cost is much lower. FYI , I pay EUR 106,00 excl. 21% VAT per hour for my Audi garageman to fix my car.... (just to give an idea on labor costs in the EU except probably Rumania)

    Again there is nothing wrong with their claim, but I have my doubts on 100% hand made.... :)
     
  23. jasie02, Feb 14, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016

    jasie02 macrumors 6502a

    jasie02

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    #23
    Had you ever have your hand with any Di-Modell watch band, if not, you are missing German precision hand made band.
    It is really a shame not to feel it 1st before made your decision a German hand made watch band is not worth your money.

    If "handmade" is not define as "hand" made, not sure what else it means.

    Please read my link from Di-Modell, also quote below, and feel free to suit Di-modell for false advertisement.

    MANUFACTURE


    Di-Modell leather straps are handmade and only precious materials are used.
    By the way, you pay too much to fix your Audi, or high end VW, or low end Porsche.
     
  24. mhoutman thread starter macrumors regular

    mhoutman

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    #24
    You are too kind
     
  25. Thai macrumors 6502a

    Thai

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    #25
    I wonder how they make it water resistance. If so, then do these calf leather achieve patina over time? I just showed my brother this...thanks, he will get one for his LG Urbane.

    The Apple Classic Buckle saddle brown patina is quite nice...mine is ever getting it. :)
     

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