Straps are one of those things you likely don’t think very much about when you first start getting into watches. Sure, you might like the finish on one better than another, but for the most part you’re content with whatever came stock on your watch.
Then, as you start diving deeper into this hobby, you realize there’s a great big aftermarket out there, just waiting to help you customize your watch. Many of these services, such as changing out a dial, handset, or the finish on the case, will likely require you to send the watch off to be worked on. In contrast, straps are something you can order up, have there inside of a week, and swap it in yourself in a matter of minutes.
You have all manner of options out there on the market, and we’ve reviewed several different ones here. When it comes to a leather strap, the trend these days is towards the heavier (or double-thickness) straps paired up with massive buckles. While these work well for an appropriately large watch, what if you’re looking for something that’s not quite as built up?
Prior to coming across Cloudy Sky Leatherworks, I would have said your best bet would be a nylon strap, or perhaps some of the lower priced leather options over at Crown & Buckle. Those will get the job done, but they likely won’t last nearly as long as those aforementioned heavy-duty leather straps. With what they’re doing over at Cloudy Sky, though, you can get some really great (and high-quality) leather in a thin and supple strap.
For our review sample, we went with a Horween (link to Horween) Essex leather in walnut, as I’ve been on the hunt for a brown leather strap for my Orange Monster (review parts 1 & 2). Now, when you place your order for a strap, you get to make some additional customization options, including:
- Strap style: one- or two-piece
- Thread color (choose one of nine options)
- Buckle finish (silver, gold, or black)
- Monogram (up to three letters of your choice)
You’ll also need to provide some measurements with your order, including:
- Lug width
- Length from springbar to springbar
- Your wrist size
This all works together to create a strap that looks just like you want, and fits perfectly to your wrist. For our sample, we opted for the one-piece with a silver buckle, and brown stitching. When I first received the strap, I put it to the sniff test (as I do with all leather straps), and I’m happy to report it has that rich, leather smell (versus the somewhat plasticky smell you can get with cheaper leathers). This is due in no small part to the lack of processing done once the hide is ready – Cloudy Sky simply cuts and sews to size, and finishes the edges.
Now, on our sample, our edging was burnished, which gets the job done, but they’ve since changed to painting the edges, which will give the edges a finish that more closely matches the top. The reverse of the strap isn’t quite sueded, but it’s just about as soft. Which meant that once I had it on the Monster, it was just about as comfortable as you could look for against your skin.
Additionally, with the strap being as (relatively) thin as it is (note: the two-piece straps are slightly thicker), it conformed nicely to my wrist, without any gaps or overhangs. Along with that, I realized that the buckle was offset (not directly under my wrist), due in part to the measurements I provided, and to how I mounted the watch. And this is a good thing! If you’re like me, and spend most of your day at a desk, this means you won’t have a buckle digging into your wrist. Simply put, this is one of the most comfortable straps (leather or otherwise) that I’ve worn in some time.
With the quality of the leather (and it’s workmanship) involved, these are a little bit pricier than you might expect. That said, the $65 the Horween Essex leather goes for (Chromexcel starts at $55, shell cordovan starts at $75; going to a two-piece straps adds another $10) I feel is quite in line for what you’re getting – a quality strap that should last you for quite a long time. If you’re on the hunt for a lightweight strap for the summer, you definitely owe it to yourself to check out what Cloudy Sky has on offer.
UPDATE: If you’re thinking about picking a strap up, be sure to use coupon code wristwatchreview to get 10% off of your order.