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).
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
This article assumes you have some experience and tools for working with leather. The main things you will need are:
- Cutting mat
- Cutting tool
- Cutting edge
- Leather punch
- 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
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.
2 – Measure Your Lugs & Then Cut Leather To Size
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
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
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
James is here treading the “famous” double stitch seen in this style of watch strap.
6 – 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
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
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.
9 – Punch Out The Diamond Tip
Just a finishing touch to compete the construction of the strap.
10 – Sit Back And Admire Your Newly Created Masterpiece
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.
Once again thanks to James of Threaded Leather Co., and as always, leave any questions or comments you may have below.