Strapping Up: A Guide to The Right (and Wrong) Watch Strap for Your Favorite Watch

Strapping Up: A Guide to The Right (and Wrong) Watch Strap for Your Favorite Watch

Paul Altieri

Under the broad umbrella of leather straps, there’s a lot to digest. On the more dressy end of the spectrum, thin-cut straps made of alligator, crocodile, stingray, can add just the right punch of texture and sheen to a watch—especially one whose case is primarily polished. From there, the semi-matte finish of Horween, calfskin, pebble grain, and even suede leathers provide a more muted aesthetic for slightly more casual watches with brushed steel cases. This grouping is also generally more supple, and very comfortable on-wrist. Strap thickness will make a significant difference here, and depending on the case and lug profile of your watch, you’re going to want to select your strap accordingly.

Things like an IWC Big Pilot will be better suited to a thicker pebble grain leather, likely with contrasting stitching, whereas something more slender like the Pilot Mark XVIII will be more suited to a thinner strap, possibly with a slightly distressed finish to it. Speaking of pilot watches, the classic Bund strap can be a fantastic choice, though not one we would recommend for those living in warmer climates. Given the broad swath of leather it uses, sweating can be a legitimate concern with those. Last but not least, the beloved Rally strap, recognized by its round cut-outs is a must have for any motorsport-inspired chronograph, whether old or new.

Generally speaking, rubber straps are entirely best left to the many dive and sport watch options out there. Yes, you can get the Oysterflex rubber for the Daytona, and this is a respectable route to pursue, but fitting a rubber strap on a dress watch or pilot’s watch is simply out of the question. Once again in this category there are ample options. For a modern utilitarian dive watch, the classic Isofrane rubber strap is one of the best options on the market in terms of quality and comfort. For more compact and vintage-inspired divers, a thinner Tropic rubber strap will be a better fit without compromising comfort whatsoever. If you’re chasing Rolex options, the ample offerings from Everest Bands offer model-specific straps that are perfectly fitted to align with your Rollie’s case. Last but not least, those of you with an interest in loud colors and camouflage patterns will want to have a look at Miami-based Horus Straps, who are making a range of straps, primarily to fit Audemars Piguet and Panerai watches, among others.

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