Reviews of watch straps have slowed down here a bit, but one of our more recent discoveries from last year is back with a new style for your consideration. If you recall, the last time we took a look at Cloudy Sky (here), we covered a one-piece strap that is custom fit to your wrist, and we came away impressed. This time around, we’ve got another one-piece strap, with something a bit different.
When you go for a custom strap, you’re obviously providing your wrist size, as well as some consideration (generally) of what watch it’s going to be going on. For a one-piece strap, that’s a bit less of a concern, as anything other than lug width isn’t going to impact things as much. For the review sample we got in this time, I measured off of the prior Cloudy Sky strap to get the exact measurement, and built up the strap.
For this time around, I opted for one of the nice Horween Chromexcel (verify what I actually picked) leathers they have on offer, in a dark brown, alongside a chromed button stud. And that’s all there really is to the process – pick your leather type (and color), and the finish on the button stud, and put the measurements of your wrist and lugs in. Then, you just wait for your custom strap to arrive.
I will admit, going in to this, I was a touch concerned how the fit would end up being with the button stud strap, since you’re not adjusting the length through the standard tang buckle. Why was this? Well, everyone has their own preference for how loose or tight a strap should feel on their wrist, and I thought that perhaps with the fastener arrangement you have, that you’re locked into a single size, and it is what it is.
As it turns out, I need not worry. Cloudy Sky ends up placing four holes in the button stud end of the strap, meaning that you’ve got some adjustment room to get the fit that you’re looking for. This is something you’ll probably play around with, especially as you get used to the strap, and it “breaks in” a bit (due to the thinner nature, it may end up stretching a touch for you). Adjusting the button stud is pretty simple, with just one flat head screwdriver necessary.
Once you’ve got the size you’re comfortable with, just make sure things are snugged down tight, perhaps even with a little bit of blue Loc-Tite on the threads for extra security. Then, you’re ready to head out into the world. As with the previous Cloudy Sky strap I reviewed, this one was instantly comfortable. The unfinished back of the strap is soft against the skin, and the thinner leather conforms well to the wrist, and doesn’t add any bulk on the underside – a nicety for those of us at a desk most of the day.
I did fiddle around with the orientation of the strap here and there, to figure out what was the most comfortable. With that, it really is deciding which side of the wrist (and where, exactly) you want the button stud sitting. I started off with it on the inside of my wrist (so, facing me), but I found that the back of the stud was chafing my wrist, due to how the watch pulled on the strap. A quick reversal of strap fixed that up, and ultimate comfort for the strap was found.
In the swap (and in the picture above) you can see how supple the leather is – even from the brief amount of wear, the surface of the strap had picked up indentations from the watch case. For me, this means a few things. First, if you’re of a mind to swap straps frequently, you’ll have an indicator of where to place the strap when you put it back on the watch. Second, it means that you should have a strap that wears well over time, and will pick up some character that’s unique to you and your watch.
With a starting price of $45 (chromexcel in blue, green, brown, or burgundy; Essex is a $10 premium), this is a very affordable strap, especially when you consider the high quality leather being used (for more on this, check out our writeup on Horween’s leathers here) (link). What’s nice is that, for those who are looking for a one-piece strap, you’re getting more options. Cloudy Sky presents a nice alternative to the NATO-style strap (link to our B10 article), with a choice in the type of closure being used (buckle or button stud).
Time will tell how well the thinner leather holds up with the stresses from the button stud, but for now, I’m pretty happy with the results. As before, Cloudy Sky is coming to the table with comfortable straps that you can customize to your own tastes, and they’ve likely got something in their affordable mix that will appeal to you.
For all you WWR readers, that affordable mix gets even more affordable – use the code “wristwatchreview” (without the quote marks) to knock another 10% off the final price. cloudyskyleatherworks.com
For those curious, the watch this strap was tested on is the Michelsen Arctic Explorer