When it comes to changing the look of your watch, there is no simpler modification that can be done than to change the strap out that came with your watch. We have reviewed quite a few different straps here, running the gamut from simple Nylon NATO straps, to affordable leather and canvas, and all the way up to the higher end of custom-made leather straps. That’s where our latest strap in for review hails from – the custom end of the spectrum. Let’s have a look at what is in store for you when you order a custom strap from 74 Watch Straps.
First up is the fact that there is no stand-alone web presence for the brand. Instead, Laurence New chooses to operate things via his Facebook page, which then leads into one-on-one conversations electronically. Next up comes the fitting of the strap. With many other strap makers, you are simply choosing the lug width you’re looking to fit to, and what sort of taper (if any) you want the strap to have at the buckle.
With 74 Watch Straps, things are more akin to having a custom suit made (and all the measurements that are entailed; you can see my experiences with that right here). All told, there are a total of seven different measurements that you will need to take from a strap that you like the overall dimensions and fit of. Of course, you could tweak these a bit if you want some minor adjustments (perhaps more spacing in the buckle holes, for example), and of course work with New to make those adjustments as well.
Past that, you would have your choice of leather, leather color, and contrast stitching. In our case, we opted to go with the experience and recommendation of New – after providing the measurements, we sent over some pictures of the watch it would be paired to (the Magrette Regattare 2011), and let him work his magic.
What showed up in the mail is, to put it simply, one of the best leather straps I have had cross my desk. To look at it in the photo, you might be tempted to dismiss it as simply another thick leather strap that is aiming for the Panerai aftermarket. While this strap could easily find a home on a Panny, make no mistake – this is rather unlike any other strap you have laid hands on.
This is – first and foremost – due to the leather itself. In discussions with New, I learned that it was a brown leather from SB Foot Tanning Company, which is wholly owned by Red Wing shoes (another brand I’m familiar with, due to my almost 15 year old work boots). In New’s estimation, this is one of the best quality leathers to be had.
For a strap as thick as this one is, it is surprisingly soft and pliable. You can see this in some of the shots where I’ve got the strap all but wrapped up on itself. Sure, there can be some fun in getting a strap “broken in” over time, but this just speaks to me of a softer form of luxury. This is not to say that the strap will not hold up over the long rung. Not that I have had it for years, but with a piece of leather this thick, its not likely to fall apart so long as you take care of it.
In terms of coloration, the strap is a great shade of brown, with beige contrast stitching used. Towards the edges of the strap, there is a gentle gradient towards a much darker brown, which then blends into the finishing on the edges. On the inside of the strap, the finish is the same as on the top, but without the gradient or the channel flanking the stitching. The inside is where you’ll also find the brand stamped in to the leather.
Fitting the strap on the Magrette was a fairly simple affair, as I had measured things off of the stock strap – which also meant the stock buckle got used as well. While the use of tubes in the end of the strap would have made things easier to fit (and doable, since the Regattare 2011 has drilled lugs), I was still able to get the strap on with out much hassle. For those fitting to a drilled-lug watch, though, I think picking up some springbar tubes to fit in would be worthwhile.
At this point, all that was left was to wear the watch, and the leather was just as comfortable on the wrist as you would expect. The two keepers (one fixed, one floating) did their job and really did not slide around, and the strap itself did the job it was designed to do – which is really what you would expect. Coming in at a prices ranging from $88 to $280 (depending on materials and difficulty to make) the 74 Watch Straps is – as I mentioned at the outset – one of the best custom leather straps I have experienced.
Now, if you’re not looking for a brown leather strap like we showed here, do not worry – you can get it in a variety of colors. Also, if you don’t want plain ol’ leather, you have a bunch of other options. Other materials New works with includes alligator, ostrich, cobra, python, lizard, and carp. If you would like to order your own, head on over to the Facebook page, start a Messenger conversation, and get the ball rolling.
Just bear in mind things take around 7 days to make a (cowhide) leather strap, and closer to 18 days for an exotic strap. Whatever you decide on going with, your patience will definitely be rewarded. Of course I cannot speak to the exotics, but based on the craftsmanship and attention to detail on our leather review sample, I would not have any concerns going with something else from 74 Watch Straps. Facebook page
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