From Watch Fan to Watch Strap Maker, in 2 Years

From Watch Fan to Watch Strap Maker, in 2 Years


It all started in early 2021 when Philip Chuah, a watch enthusiast in Singapore, asked some local artisans about the cost of a custom alligator strap for his Omega Speedmaster Racing model.

They said 400 Singapore dollars ($290). “I was only earning about 1,000 a month, so that’s almost half my pay on just a watch strap,” he said. “And I thought, ‘I’ll just make it myself.’ And somehow it got to the point where it is today.”

Now Mr. Chuah operates Atelier Kai (Kai is part of his Chinese name). He primarily makes leather watch straps, as well as some wallets, a crossbody clutch bag and a few small leather-goods items. And while he would like to expand his line, he said, “right now I don’t really have the time to experiment with other items, with the straps orders that I have.”

This year Robin Wong, a watch collector in Singapore who posts as @watchthebin on Instagram, has purchased five straps from Mr. Chuah. “His straps are special because he has a vast range of colors and leather to choose from,” Mr. Wong wrote in an email. “I especially like his bold colors on his exotic leather, many of which are uncommon.”

Before he started the business, Mr. Chuah, now 28, had no experience with leather work. “In Singapore’s education system, you don’t actually have that many opportunities to express yourself creatively and work with your hands,” he said. “Sometimes it feels quite surreal that I’m able to make straps like this.”


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