How To Make A Rustic Horween Leather Watch Strap – In 10 Detailed Steps w/Pictures

By |2018-06-13T00:04:57+00:00Nov 11th, 2015|Categories: Watches|Tags: , , , |18 Comments

The purpose of this article is to show you how to make a rustic (aka un-finished, and un-burnished strap that will take on a patina over time) Horween leather watch strap.

If, however, you are like me and just want to see how it’s done and then buy one, it’s also a great read. The following watch strap was crafted by James of Threaded Leather Co. You can buy directly from their Etsy shop, and even make custom order strap requests if you so choose (like I did to accommodate my large wrist).Horween Leather Watch Strap On Omega Seamaster Spectre

Above are the two finished straps I ordered, with the burgundy one being showcased on my Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre watch. I plan on doing a full review of the strap itself in a few weeks after it’s been “on the wrist” for some time.

Leather Watch Strap Making Process

Burgundy Horween Leather Watch StrapThis article assumes you have some experience and tools for working with leather. The main things you will need are:

  • Leather
  • Cutting mat
  • Cutting tool
  • Cutting edge
  • Leather punch
  • Needle
  • Suitable thread
  • Watch hardware (buckle and spring bars)

It should take roughly 45 – 60 mins to complete each strap depending on your level of expertise and comfortably of working with leather.

1 – Select The Leather

Horween Leather Factory And Hides

So why Horween leathers? Well simply put, they are the best.

Not only are they based in the good ole U. S. of A. in Chicago, Illinois, but they are also regarded as having the highest quality processes and thus resulting leathers. Having over a 100 year history (founded in 1905) they have stood the test of time and have evolved with it. They supply leather for American Footballs, baseball gloves, and even partake in more contemporary endeavors like Adidas Stan Smith’s and Vans shoes.

Yes, you pay a little more, but you’re buying the heritage, quality, and American made product that Horween is known for. These are all characteristics which, in my opinion, add to the “value” of the resulting strap.  If, however, you can’t get a hold of any Horween leather, then other “thick” leather shall suffice, especially if it’s a particular color or pattern you’re in love with.

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2 – Measure Your Lugs & Then Cut Leather To Size

Measuring leather for strap width

You shall simply need to measure the inside size of your watches lugs. Typically this is done in millimeters. For example, my strap was requested at 20mm, as the lugs were 21mm apart.

Please note there is no standard as men’s watches typically range from 18 – 22mm (which on a strap is about a mile difference for strap size), and can be more or less. So always double check!

3 – Cut Leather To Size

Leather strap segments cut

Both ends of the strap are cut to size. My wrist is 8.25″ so James made it slightly longer to accommodate.

4 – Punch Holes For Stitching Around Spring Bars

Punching holes in leather for spring bars

The ends of the strap need to be punched, so that they can be folded over to accommodate the spring bars that will be attached to the lugs.

5 – Stitch The “Famous” Double Stitch

Stitching up ends of watch strap

James is here treading the “famous” double stitch seen in this style of watch strap.

6  – Cutting Leather For Strap “Keepers”

Cutting leather for strap keepers

These are used in a fixed position at the buckle end, and again the buckle side “floating” to secure the non-buckle end once fastened.

7 – Attach Buckle Hardware

Getting ready to attached watch strap buckle

A critical piece!

Side note: I personally like to mix this up for the watch in question, so look into buying some additional hardware yourself with different finishes and styles such as: gold, matte, black,  DLC coating, etc…

8 – Punching Out The Buckle Holes

Punching out buckle holes

As this was a custom order, I requested that James limit the number of holes on the short side, and go further on the longer side.

I didn’t just do one hole in case the leather gives over time or if I want to wear the watch over clothes (i.e. a dive suit, not that I actually dive!). Additionally, having multiple holes will be of use in the event that I get a watch head of a different diameter.

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9 – Punch Out The Diamond Tip

Punching end of watch strap

Just a finishing touch to compete the construction of the strap.

10 – Sit Back And Admire Your Newly Created Masterpiece

Burgundy And Navy Blue Horween Leather Watch Straps

The Not-So-Finished, Yet Finished Product

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the true beauty of this strap will develop over time as a patina evolves. This will occur naturally from hand oils, water and friction.  I’m looking forward to seeing the process in front of my own eyes.

Watch laying on newspapers

Once again thanks to James of Threaded Leather Co., and as always, leave any questions or comments you may have below.

About the Author:

Paul Anthony is the founder and creative director at Bespoke Unit. He has had a life long affair with design, watches, fragrance and clothing. Originally from England, he now lives in the USA splitting time between NYC & Philly. Favoring "British Style", but has an overall eclectic taste.

18 Comments

  1. Robert November 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Wow that’s an amazing looking strap. Shall have to check out the straps in his shop, as not sure I want to even try making it myself.

    – Rob

    • Paul Anthony November 12, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

      Yes it’s a lovely piece, and do go check out their shop.

  2. Andrew January 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    What thread was used for this?

  3. Felix October 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Looks great! How was the fixed keeper held in place?

    • Trevor Guilday October 23, 2017 at 11:58 am - Reply

      Great question Felix!

      The fixed keeper is held in place between the two double-stitch threads so it does not slide up or down the watch strap. Additionally, the leather strap folds back onto itself which encloses the fixed keeper.

      Regards,

      Trevor

  4. [email protected] November 14, 2017 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Could you provide a pic of the back to see the finished double stich. Amazing work look forward to trying it out.

    • Paul Anthony November 15, 2017 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment. I’ll grab a picture for you this evening.

      – Paul

  5. Sammi November 21, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Lovely strap! How did you cut out the edges to make that triangular tip?

    • Paul Anthony November 27, 2017 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      I believe a utility knife was used against a template.

      Thanks,

      – Paul

  6. Stephen June 23, 2018 at 6:45 am - Reply

    Loving the info on this website, you have done great job on the posts.

    • Charles-Philippe June 24, 2018 at 4:19 am - Reply

      Thanks, Stephen!

  7. Jeff Burris July 21, 2018 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Very pleasing on multiple counts. I like seeing others who might rely a bit on their own craftsmanship for their own, otherwise premium items (when one can largely just afford staple accouterments on average). Whether it’s the author or his audience, actually. I’m anxious to try tooled leather so I can make some “vintage scifi black padded” lumps to go with my Tragalfar “Cylon”-looking LED 70’s watch. While tooling leather is not supple or flexible like chrome-tanned etc., I have some relatively thin, flexible goat hide that is veggie-tanned for tooling things like book covers. I really think that will work. Maybe stitch down some or all tooled lines. This is a nice point of departure albeit a specific, clean, simple band. I like knowing about this fashionable style for one of my more traditional watches. Maybe it can give my Swiss Mickey Mouse a class boost (for real… it looks like a classy watch until you see Mickey.. it’s one of the nicer ones). Thanks again.

    • Paul Anthony July 21, 2018 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      Dear Jeff,

      We’re glad you liked this post. Please share any of your aforementioned creations when done!

      – Paul

  8. LusitoLus July 22, 2018 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Where can one find a step by step tutorial to the simple yet complex double stitch technique?
    Thank you.

    • Charles-Philippe July 23, 2018 at 5:13 am - Reply

      Hi Lusito. We haven’t written anything covering this particular subject. But I’m sure that a cheeky Google would yield some results.

      Best,

      CP

  9. Måns July 30, 2018 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Hi!
    What thickness was the leather that you used?

    Thx

    • Paul Anthony July 31, 2018 at 9:05 am - Reply

      Hello!

      Thanks for the question. I’m not sure of the technical classification for leather thickness, but I measure it at 3mm. Hope that helps.

      – Paul

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