Watch Straps

8 Watch Strap Makers You Should Know

Jean Rousseau Straps

It’s easy to forget about a watch strap. Provided it does what it’s meant to do – and that keeps a watch on your wrist – it doesn’t really scream for attention. It’s a practical necessity, nothing more, nothing less. You know, if you have the imagination of a brick. There are plenty of watch strap makers you should know about out there creating amazing products. Especially when it comes to made to order or custom and bespoke straps in the many materials straps can be made in from leather to rubber to fabric and more.

Jean Rousseau

Jean Rousseau Omega Speedmaster Straps

They may be Parisian by name, but if you want to see what Jean Rousseau are all about take a look in their particularly British store over in the Piccadilly Arcade. They offer one of the most comprehensive bespoke leather strap services out there, with leather of all colours and textures. Their lizard is particularly cool, though be aware that you will need to look after it incredibly well otherwise won’t last long, as I know all too well from experience.

There are more than enough colours to match your collection, ranging from subtle elegance to their signature electric blue. It’s a veritable rainbow of straps, all with the kind of quality you’d expect from un atelier Française. Plus, they offer wallets, phone cases and belts in the exact same leathers, if you just have to match. You probably shouldn’t, but it’s nice to know that the option’s there.

More details at Jean Rousseau.

Bonetto Cinturini

Bonetto Cinturini

Given Italy’s heritage with diving watches – Panerai, we’re looking at you – it’s no surprise they know their way around a rubber strap. These aren’t the usual cheap bits of rubber that you find on £50 quartz divers’ either; after 35 years of research, Bonetto Cinturini is about as good as it gets. Giving rubber the full attention we normally associate with other materials including hand-finishing and more.

Their endless array of colours is just the start; every model has a different design, from subtle textures and woven styles to striking moulded embellishments. If that’s still not enough, you can get your own made – for a little bit of a premium of course – with your own wording across its length. Just because you’re forced to wear a serious diving watch on a rubber strap doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it.

More details at Bonetto Cinturini.

The Strap Smith

The Strap Smith

A custom strap maker here but one for whom Americana is a way of life. Sure, they do the usual array of exotic leathers in various colours, but they also offer some more off-kilter choices. Why bother with ostrich when you can have a strap made from an old baseball glove? Or an American football if that’s more your game? Swap that old military canvas strap for some denim or the chunky leather from an old bandolier.

These aren’t bespoke to the same degree as Jean Rousseau etc. as customisations typically extend to thread colour and other small details. Meaning what you see is almost always what you get, but they are made to order. Given the nature of the materials, that means you’ll always get something unique.

More details at The Strap Smith.

Combat Straps

Combat Straps
Combat Straps

Don’t let the name put you off; if you’re expecting nothing but solid bits of leather more suited to bandoliers than watches then think again. The Montreal-based atelier specialises in strange and unusual leathers to the point where you can probably name an animal (non-endangered of course) and they’ll have it to hand. Sure, that includes ostrich and alligator, but also stingray, shark and toad. That’s right: toad. Sexy or what?

Don’t worry vegans, it’s not all leathers. They also do WWII canvas straps – fitting, given their name – and have artists on hand to paint whatever kind of crazy design your imagination can come up with. I personally love their vintage-style pin-ups, though I think I’d need a vintage IWC to make it really work.

More details at Combat Straps.

The Strap Tailor

Strap Tailor

Bringing artisanal and independent strap making to the UK is The Strap Tailor. They’re a relatively young brand in the grand scheme of things, and as a business they have a focus on youth as well, aiming to develop and find young artisans interested in learning and protecting the traditional crafts of leather work in the UK.

They specialise in ostrich, French calf, Epsom calf, goat skin, suede and the unusual pick of pig leather. Although admittedly pig isn’t quite so radical as toad. All options are available in a variety of colours and a custom selection of size, stitching, padding and buckle.

More details at The Strap Tailor.

Visconti Milano

Visconti Milano Straps

Visconti Milano offer 100% hand-made watch straps from Italy with a range of high quality strap both pre-made and custom ordered. Like Jean Rousseau they offer a complete bespoke service that lets you choose the material, stitching, lining, measurements, profile, lug shape, tip shape, holes and buckle. That’s a pretty comprehensive list of things you might want to customise. And that’s before you consider that with materials alone you have 42 different leather and vegan options.

The possibilities are functionally endless with a simply immense number of combinations. You can be pretty sure that your strap will be genuinely unique. Plus it has all the quality and artistry of Visconti Milano’s Italian heritage.

More details at Visconti Milano.

Genteel Handmade

Genteel Handmade

Genteel approach strap making with a philosophy that places the customer are the centre of the experience and invites them to become the designer. Every decision regarding the strap is left in your hands, making every strap unique and personal to the purchaser.

Although if all that decision making is a little daunting, they also have a small collection of ready to wear straps and limited editions. Some of these limited editions are the most interesting straps they produce, including waxed leather designed to age beautifully and straps inspired by specific artists such as Mark Rothko.

More details at Genteel Handmade.

Toshi Straps

Toshi Straps Kiwi

Toshi Straps are perhaps the single most dedicated brand when it comes to producing custom watch straps. Which another way of saying that they’re a one man band with the designer, Rich, in charge of making the straps, sourcing the leather, operating the website and in short, everything. Every single strap is hand-made using completely manual technology (no machines whatsoever) giving you complete confidence in their artisanal and traditional quality.

Toshi have over 100 leathers available each with an interesting colour, texture and aesthetic. There are conventional choices such as dark blue oceanic themed leather as well as more extroverted options like the bright green Kiwi.

More details at Toshi Straps.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.