Your luxury watch is an investment. That makes your watch strap as essential as a pair of fine leather shoes to go with your bespoke suit. As if they were tailor-made, the best straps meet in the middle with an ode to your style while being strong enough to protect and enhance your timeless investment.
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So you want the best strap for your watch, but how do you know you have found high-quality leather that is most suited to your needs? At Jack Mason, we offer only the best quality leather to accent our watches, and in this post, we will get down to the nuts and bolts with all you need to know to identify the utmost quality when it comes to leather watch straps.
Like an oak barrel cask of single malt bourbon, a leather strap accents your watch face without being too forward, flashy, or bulky. Leather is one of the hottest trends in watches in 2020. leather adds a smooth, sophisticated air of rugged craftsmanship paired with age-old decadence of luxury watch faces. Only the best will do.
How Can I Identify Quality Leather?
From smooth to suede finishes, gunmetal accents, or gold clasps, the world is your oyster when choosing the style of your leather watchband, but how will you know if this watchband will hold up your timeless investment?
A band of the utmost quality will be durable and beautiful. It would be a shame to invest in a gorgeous watch face to only have it slip from your wrist due to a low-quality band. A high-quality band will be immediately noticeable and will magnify the look and feel of your watch on your wrist while protecting it by keeping it there.
Use these five steps to categorize, identify, and sniff out the fakes when it comes to leather watch bands.
Inspect it. Look closely and check for pores. Genuine leather has inconsistent porosity, known as the grain, because it is natural and no two sections will look or even feel alike. Imitation leather contains a repeating pattern. Imitation leather is printed using a machine or press and is manufactured to look like leather at a glance, mimicking the leather's pores and texture.
Read the label. Looking for brands or labeling is a great start, but genuine leather stamping isn't enough. The highest quality of leather is full-grain leather. It is the best that money can buy. With full-grain leather, you can see all the tiny imperfections, and the natural marbling and coloration of the hide will come through. Check out our Moores & Giles Specialty straps to see first hand what high-quality full-grain leather straps look like.
Smell it. Natural leather will have a distinctive smell of leather, animals, or even an oaty grassy smell, while vinyl will have a plastic chemical smell. If your watch band has a chemical smell, the chances are that it is not full-grain leather.
Wet it. Remember those pores we talked about above? Real leather is porous and absorbent. Test your leather by wetting a small section. Authentic leather will absorb the water after a little time, while fake leather will not.
Touch it. The final test is the feel. Real leather generally has a smooth side known as the grain and coarse side, known as the suede. The same pores mentioned give it an inconsistent texture, which you can quickly feel with your bare hands. If it feels too smooth on both sides, then chances are too good to be true, and a fake. The same goes for too rough. If the grain and the suede sides are both rough, chances are you've got your hands on an altered hide.
Leather Characteristics to Pay Attention To
The Grain. The grain is the top layer of the hide. The grain layer is the most durable layer of the hide due to its fibers being very dense and tightly woven. Our highest rated watch, the 42mm Halyard with its White Dial and its tan top grain leather strap, is the perfect example of this durability. This makes perfect sense if you think about a cow and how it needs its outer layer to be tough to protect against its environment.
The Junction. The junction is where the split and the grain meet. The fibers start to loosen up, and the grain transitions to the split/suede part of the hide.
The Split (Suede). The split is the rough, suede part of the hide. It is generally considered the weakest part of the hide and makes up the bulk of the leather on its backside with its soft, loose fibers. It is often shaved down or split, but when this is done, it does not alter or weaken the grain or the top layer of the hide, it simply thins it out.
Altering the Hide
Any modifications made to the top layer of the hide deem it altered, and it is no longer full-grain leather. Genuine leather is an all-encompassing term for the many different types of alterations that could be done to the hide. These alterations can be sanding, pressing, or embossing the leather.
- Full Grain or Top Grain Leather – Top Tier – the Rolls Royce Phantom SUV of Leather
- Corrected or Embossed Grain – 2nd Best – The Bentley Flying Spur of leather
- Split Suede – functional and inexpensive leather hides - The Compass Sport of Leather
- Nubuck Sueded Grain – Very fragile and susceptible leather – look but don't even think about touching – The Vintage Model T of Leather
- Reconstituted, Bonded or Fibre Leather – Usually made with Recycled materials and particleboard – The junkyard PT Cruiser of Leather
Full Grain or Top Grain Leather. Top grain leather refers to the top layer of the cow-hide that is very minimally altered if altered at all. Some lesser quality leathers may seem smoother or more uniform, but sanding weakens the hide and full-grain leather with little bumps and bruises. Scrapes and scars not only add character, but it also means the leather is durable. Full-grain leather has a breaking in period, it can seem stiff at first and will need time to meld with your wrist providing the ultimate customization, naturally. Check out this write-up by The Adult Man Blog on our Halyard Sport Watch and Leather Strap to learn more about the wearing and aging process of our straps.
Corrected Grain Leather. Corrected grain leather is much more altered than top grain leather. Starting with sanding, corrected grain leather is often buffed, resurfaced, or embossed to "improve" it's top hide appearance, but at the end of the day, it's just a cheaper leather trying to pass for the real deal. You can tell if you've got corrected grain leather if the leather has a uniform extra smoothness and will feel thinner to the touch.
Genuine Leather. The catch-all term for anything that could have been altered but is still considered leather is genuine leather. This could also mean other leathers besides cow-hide, like pig-hide, goat-hide, or even chicken leg leather. The most common being pig-hide that has been sanded to smooth it down.
Leather - The Perfect Band Choice of the Everyday Icon
If you are looking to add that smooth finish to your watch face akin to the demeanor of James Bond or look no further than our Moore & Giles genuine top grain Italian leather. Moores & Giles was established in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1933. They are an American Leather Industry Leader that only believes in providing the best and utmost quality for its customers. To read more about Moore & Giles, check out their website here.
We have created unique, beautiful, and sturdy straps for the everyday man combining dedication with value and affordability through our partnership with Moore & Giles. The straps are available in a variety of millimeter sizes, styles, and accent metals so that you can find that perfect band for you.