How to Choose and Care for Your Leather Watch Bands

Leather Kwik Change - Forest Green Two Stitch Watch Band

If you think that timeless dark brown leather band is old school, think again!

Who doesn't love how luxurious leather bands feel or how comfortably they adjust to the wrist? What about their breathability, resilience, and ability to spruce up a century-old timepiece?

These are facts a majority of watch lovers will confirm. However, to enjoy these perks, you need to choose the right strap to match your personality.

BluShark straps are particularly appealing.

Leather watch straps remain stylish and sleek even with the variety of trendy metal bands available at your favorite watch store.

As you’re looking to add another strap to your impressive collection or a replacement for that embarrassingly worn-out piece, you can be sure we’ll guide you in your quest for the perfect strap.

Apple Watch Band (38/40mm) - Black Italian Calfskin Leather
Apple Watch Band (38/40mm) - Black Italian Calfskin Leather

Choosing Your Leather Watch Band

Bands elevate your watch's aesthetics. For men who can’t splurge on a dozen sophisticated watches, the good news is, you can still rock a 'different' timepiece every day of the week.

If you’re looking to 'cheat' your way into having a collection of watches, think leather watch straps! Buying different watch bands can make that one stylish Omega piece feel like a collection.

Leather Kwik Change - Marsh Two Stitch Watch Band
Leather Kwik Change - Marsh Two Stitch Watch Band

Below are factors that you need to keep in mind when picking the perfect leather watch band to match your style.

Type of Leather

Do you prefer a strap made from bovine, or is its exotic leather counterpart more your style? Both types of leather are great, only that the latter is made from less common animals, such as ostriches and alligators. Hence, it’s rare and incomparable.

These two types of leather are classified further according to quality.

Full-Grain Leather: Full-grain straps are one of our top picks in terms of quality. They contain densely packed fibers enhancing durability. They’re luxurious to the touch and develop a glossy look over time.

Full-grain leather isn’t altered. As such, you may notice some imperfections. Due to its sophisticated look, full-grain leather watch straps pair beautifully with a formal look.

Top-Grain Leather: Top-grain leather is made from splitting the blemished top layer of the animal hide. A tanner sands and stains the hide to give it a striking look. 

These processes make watch straps softer and smoother on the wrist. As lavish as they are, straps made from top-grain leather may stretch over time.

Corrected Grain Leather: Corrected grain leather, also known as genuine leather, is made from the remaining layers of skin after removing the top hide. It’s not as soft or breathable as top-grain leather but makes amazing straps. A corrected grain strap pairs beautifully with a men’s leather bracelet.

Type of Leather Source Features
Full-Grain Top cut with all the natural grain Luxurious and smooth with minor imperfections, if any. It is not altered, making it the highest quality of leather
Top-Grain Top cut with the outermost layer cut off Thinner than full-grown. It is sanded to give it a smoother surface and to get rid of any blemishes.
Corrected Grain Bottom cut Partially made of leather. It is sanded and painted to make it more appealing

Pay Particular Interest to the Hardware

No matter how bad you want that stylish brown strap, keep an eye on the hardware that comes with it, particularly the buckle.

Buckles come in a variety of materials. If you’re a rookie at picking the right strap, stainless steel buckles are a sure bet. They’re not only easy to maintain but also resistant to corrosion.

Watch Out for Stitching Quality

Leather watch bands without visible handmade stitches are never a good purchase. They tend to damage quickly, especially with everyday wear. 

Always consider a watch strap with enviable stitching quality.

Z, saddle, butt, and box stitches are some of the widely used leather stitching techniques. Saddle stitches stand tall among the rest, being one of the most popular. When done right, the saddle stitch will rarely unravel, which keeps the watch strap sturdy.

Below is a beginner's video to show you the basics of saddle stitching by hand.

Leather Straps Require Special Care

If you’re a fan of thrift stores, you’ve likely come across a dazzling vintage leather item that looks as good as new, thanks to its hard-wearing nature.

A leather watch is versatile and designed for everyday wear. However, just like the mightiest soldier on the battlefield, it needs TLC.

Over time, straps can become porous or accumulate dirt. Ultimately, this will destroy the band’s aesthetics, rendering it unwearable. Understanding how to care for your straps the right way is of utmost importance.

Here’s how to keep your strap in tip-top condition 

Moisture Is a No-No

Leather is ageless; that’s a widely known fact. However, excessive moisture will ruin even the highest-quality strap.

Leather is porous, and water exposure will stain it, ruining its supple texture. To ensure longevity, never soak the strap in water. Also, take your watch off when the likelihood of exposure to moisture presents itself, like at the gym.

Apart from wreaking havoc on the leather, moisture may also damage the buckle. 

Oh gosh, I forgot to take off my classy burgundy watch before diving into the pool!

If you accidentally get your leather band wet, take off the watch and shake off the excess water. Pat dry the leather strap with an absorbent cloth, then leave it to air dry. 

Allow It to Breathe

Wearing the same watch for consecutive days exposes it to dirt and sweat. Gradually, the leather develops a foul smell. To avoid this, allow your watch band to rest. 

You can purchase numerous straps to ensure you interchange them. Also, always take off the watch before going to bed. Better yet, it’s a good idea to clean your strap to prevent a build-up of dirt.

Cleaning Your Leather Watch Straps

How you clean your watch strap is crucial. Unlike metal straps, soaking in water will only strip leather bands of their lustrous look. 

Check out this step-to-step guide to clean your watch bands.

  1. Detach the quick-release spring bars from the watch.
  2. Dust off the band on both sides with a soft microfiber cloth. This is a particularly crucial step as it eliminates elements that would otherwise scratch the band's surface.
  3. Dampen a jewelry cloth or sponge and squeeze off the excess water. Apply a drop of saddle soap or any other mild soap. 
  4. Gently wipe in circular motions, taking a keen interest in dirt spots. 
  5. Damp another soft cloth, squeeze off the excess water, and wipe the strap clean.
  6. Leave the strap to air dry, naturally.
  7. Give the strap extra protection by applying a leather conditioner. Conditioners also ensure the leather remains soft.

To be a bit more specific…

As stated earlier, the different types of leather require specialized care. 

Italian Calfskin Strap

Always condition that gold Italian calfskin strap. Do this at least four times annually to prevent cracking. To give it a nice shine, apply a thin layer of wax polish and use a wool flannel to buff off the excess.

Ostrich Leather Strap

Handcrafted ostrich leather straps are sensitive—they stain easily. If you accidentally spill oil on this exotic strap, applying talc will dry out the oil, then you can use a soft cloth to wipe. 

Always use an exotic conditioner to protect the strap. You can apply polish after conditioning and buff off the excess with a soft cloth.

Alligator Leather Band

Don't we love the texture and classic finish of alligator bands? 

To ensure your strap maintains tip-top condition, don’t fold it in an unusual position. It’ll crack. Avoid exposing it to excessive direct sunlight and veer off cleaning solvents. Be keen on the conditioner you use as alligator bands are sensitive.

To Wind Up

Leather has withstood the test of trends and has emerged top. A leather watch passed down through generations is still fashionable. Implement the above tips and practices to ensure the longevity of your leather watch.

Handmade BluShark leather straps aren’t only fashionable but also great to wear. They’re of fantastic value and go well with the majority of watches.

 “LOVE this strap! I’ve struggled to find a leather strap I like on my 556i and this one is absolutely perfect. Color, shape, length, quality; everything about this strap exceeded my expectations. - Robert B.”

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