Strap Bandits approached us not long ago with an interesting proposition: they would send us all a bunch of cloth straps to try and we agreed to all review them in one big review. The resulting mayhem – straps flying across the country, a document of massive size containing all of our thoughts, and a destructive weekend holed up in a hotel debating the merits of nitrous oxide – has been boiled down into a nearly 1,000 word review of a set of straps that look like something Mr. Bean’s lawyer would wear while defending his client on charges of assault. In other words, we had a lot of fun, we love these straps, and John has finally ceded that cloth straps aren’t truly the stink traps that he originally thought. Read on to find out more.
Patrick: The thorough one
For my part of this group review, I had two different straps come in from the Huddersfield collection. One was a black-and-white houndstooth pattern (or at least, that’s what I’m calling it), part of the pattern collection, and then the other was from their white line collection, had very much the look and feel of a suiting fabric. When we get into this middle ground of aftermarket straps (in the $40-$60 range, as these are) you’re strolling into some uncertain territory. With the sub-$20 straps, you know you’re likely to be making some compromises, and with the over-$100 set, you’re going to be getting exactly what you want with some heavy-duty leather likely in the offering.
With these straps from Strap Bandits, I was really pleasantly surprised with two things. First up, the look and feel of the fabrics used for the top of the straps is quite nice. The “suiting” one, as I’m calling it, looks like it’ll stay nice and smooth over time, and pairs nicely with (what else) dark suits. The patterned one, on the other hand, has some texture to it (and I’m not just talking of the pattern) and will likely develop some fuzzier character over time, which gives it a more casual feel.
The second thing I rather liked with the straps is just how thin they are. Many aftermarket straps – particularly if they are leather backed, as these are – tend to be rather thick and chunky affairs. Here, things are kept tidily slim. This doesn’t lead to a flimsy feel. I’m not going to tell you that you can hang off a rock face with these straps, but short of that, I think they’ll stand up quite well on your wrist, and keep your watch in place.
Those are the big details that set these watch straps from Strap Bandits apart. The materials used are rather unlike what I’ve seen from other makers, and the construction is compact quality. Past those items, I do rather enjoy the fact that quick-change spring bars are included with the straps. I know, using a springbar tool is nothing too difficult to do, but these quick change ones do make life simpler, and it’s a quick thing to swap stuff around to get the strap that fits your mood, clothes, or even the day. Pair all of this with some reasonable prices for what you’re getting, and I think that the Strap Bandits crew has something that will be of interest to you.
Victor: The color lover
The straps that I sampled from StrapBandits were made from Huddlesfield fabric, which allows them to create the patterns that make the fabric unique. I received a blue and black houndstooth pattern, and a strap in sort of a black and gray polkadot pattern.
It’s the blue and black houndstooth that ties it all together for me. It’s a dark strap, the material is soft, and above all, the leather backing doesn’t make it too stiff. It’s light, and comfortable. The fabric of the gray polkadot is much less soft to the touch, although the strap is just as pliable. Each strap is $39.99 to $49.99, depending on whether or not you require it with an adapter suitable for use with Apple Watch.
There are some very cool options available: The gray with red and black strap is very nice, and flexible. I’d expect it would go well with any watch. The Pattern strap is a houndstooth on light gray, which works really well. If you were looking to dress up a watch with something a little unique, this might be it. The pin and buckle hardware on these straps is all silver chrome, which may be worth keeping in mind if you plan to put them on rose gold, for example. The colors of the straps will go nicely with rose gold or yellow gold, particularly the light houndstooth pattern or gray red and black.
John: The skeptic
I was never a cloth strap man. I like me some nylon and some rubber and I can handle a leather strap when necessary but I never owned enough tweeds really double down on the concept. However, I found these traps to be quite versatile and quite nice. I slapped one on my JLC World Time Chronograph – a watch I usually wore on a rubber strap – and it looks great, a cross that looks like something Jacques Cousteau would wear to prom.
As a constant sweater, however, I’m a little worried about how long these things will last without stinking. They haven’t so far and I even got mine wet, which is always a huge fear of mine with classier straps. I’m keeping this model on my JLC for the foreseeable future. My take? If you’re looking for something a little more formal and really cool, these guys are a solid choice.
The bottom line? We like these things. They’re not for everyone but for a mere $49 they’re a great way to spiff up your watch and are a far cry from the bog standard nylon and rubber straps we’ve seen so far. We are, truth be told, big fans.
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