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What Matters #2
Gnomon Viewpoint

What Matters #2

Strap-changing, Explained
Published by: Samuel Ng
Apr 03, 2021
In the “What Matters” series, we share the elements that affect our watch collections. While this may seem personal, we find it an excellent opportunity to share our love for the aspects of horology that matter to us the most: From the particular complications of the watches to our indulgence in strap-changing, or simply our enjoyment of quartz and mechanical timepieces. This series will take us on a journey into this niche hobby to better understand what keeps our passion fired up. Our obsessions keep drawing us back to inform people who are into watches so they can form a consensus with us. Without any further ado, let’s get things started with “What Matters” to us in our voyage of watch-collecting.


As we now enter the second part of this series, I will be covering the aspects of what matters to me personally - and telling you all about my very own obsession with watch straps and the process of changing them up. Trying on different “shoes” for our watches can be seen as a custom for many of us. Gnomon Watches was founded to cater to different tastes and offer different varieties, and that continues even to this very day. The watch company has been part of my personal “strap” journey as well. The idée fixe has been a cornerstone in my watch hobby, and I believe many of you are like-minded in this. I see those who love to patronize our beautiful boutique downtown spending your precious time trying to pair a nice strap onto what’s-on-your-wrist-today. You know who you are.

All that said, I got very much into watches by the coddling process with strap pairing for my then trifling-two-watch-collection. Heck, my first acquaintance with Gnomon was through my first encounter and purchase of their NATO strap. And that’s before I become part of the family, trying to bring what I love onto Gnomon’s social media. Strap-changing has not just become a compulsive habit for me, but through time it’s compelled as a hobby within one.

(My First JDM Seiko on an integrated rubber strap by Crafter Blue)

This second article might be subjective and, strictly speaking, doesn’t require one to follow suit exactly. It’s merely a kind of reflection and sharing of what matters to me personally - why I think changing straps is one of the coolest and most fulfilling aspects I discovered in my watch collecting journey.

Therefore, I hope to share my personal experience covering different aspects of strap-changing and the satisfaction I gained through it, from the magnetism among these little aiding accouterments that hold your beloved watch on your wrist, then to the whys. I will be going through different strap genres currently available and those we carry in the shop, along with a small assemblage of my straps that I collected throughout the years.

All that said, this article is about a niche enjoyment for all of us watch lovers that want to style up our watches with a rich and diversified selection of straps and ultimately axiomatically espouse our own persona.

Watch Straps Defined

What are the straps? Or should I say the “things” that hold your watch onto the wrist while you go about your day? Watch straps are like shoes to your outfit, wines to your four-course meal, and wheels to your ride. They come in different materials, shapes, and sizes - all conforming to the structure of two sides (even for one piece strap) of the watch head - to wrap the whole time machine onto one’s wrist in a sturdy manner. This singular purpose has led to another term often thrown around by watch people, the word “band.”

(Navy NATO strap, a type of fabric band that holds the watch)

However, by digging back into the history of wristwatches, we soon realized that the nomenclature “wristlet” existed before the 20th century. Watch wristlets were considered a feminine accessory, often paired with their OOTD (outfit of the day), and worn strictly by women. I am not digressing with historical pocket watches or clocks (with straps sometimes), as they are ill-suited for our svelte wrist. What type did these aristocrats wear? Well, they were made of metals in elaborate jeweled forms.

(It intended to be a piece of decorative jewelry for the ladies) (Photo Credit: TheHourGlass)

As time progressed, we acknowledged that when men finally accepted wristwatches, we have one of the inventors from one of the three grandsons of Cartier’s fondateur to thank. None other than Louis Cartier. And that particular “rectangular” timepiece was invented for his Brazilian friend, an aviator adventurer called Alberto Santos-Dumont. And yes, you guessed it, the first proper male wristwatch was strapped on with a two-piece leather material strap, held only by two bars across the lugs. And that went on to become the particular method of how all wristwatches are eventually worn.

(Alberto Santos-Dumont received the first proper wristwatch for men) (Photo Credit: ItalianWatchSpotter)

Since then, watch straps have evolved from functional to fashionable today. In other words, straps are the most efficient way to customized a watch’s personality. Some even led several artisans to pursue specialized careers in strap-making to craft and ameliorate to the highest possible degree - as if those straps became art itself. All that said, with the whole gamut of straps available today, the single function has led to a cultural phenomenon within an already-niche hobby.

Type of Kicks

Unsurprisingly, the galactic-like expanse of options is enough to make one’s head goes ‘round. Therefore in this section, I will be going through those that I have tried and those found within Gnomon’s offerings: a bag full. These straps are based mainly on their material-classes, and although usually, I’d go in-depth with each category, I will encapsulate each of them for this article’s sake. So let’s get things started.

Fabric Straps

Fabric material ones might sound new to some, but as a mention of “James Bond” or “NATO” straps, things start to ring a bell.

This particular strap was made famous because of the on-going hype around “vintage” watches and their straps that came along. For instance, one might remember the double striped nylon strap that seems ill-fitted on a Big Crown Rolex ref. 6538, worn by Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No and Goldfinger. If heroic fascination isn’t your thing, the origin of these historical nylon straps were the British Army’s uber straps back in those days. The most remembrance one got to be the Mil-Sub ref. 5517, paired with an Admiralty Grey Phoenix NATO strap that was issued out by the MOD.

(The Mil-Sub on its Admiralty Grey NATO) (Photo Credit: TheVintageConcept)

Originally fabricated as one long piece, the NATO strap gets both keepers and buckle on one end and the individual holes on the other. It is then worn by slipping the holes’ side through the strap bar or spring bar on the 12’o clock of the watch and slipping over from the bottom 6 o’clock -until the watch lies within the hole’s buckle - resembling a typical two-piece strap.

(A perfect example of a classic NATO strap from Gnomon Watches)

(Sumos on “James Bond” NATOs)

As these types of straps started through as a purposeful and reliable military strap, NATO straps (Zulu with rounder keepers and buckle) have become an “in” thing. They now come in a wide variety of colors and materials. Take Gnomon Watches, for example. We are renowned for this particular genre of straps since we started in 2002. We carried from the most elementary NATO straps with different buckles and keepers finishing sewn into the thermoplastic silky nylon material, all the way to the current trend of premium 100% polyester “seat belt” selections and the supple, woven fabric ones.

(Gnomon’s newest strap addition, the elastic fabric straps)

That’s not all. Within the Fabric strap genre, we have to include another type of nylon called “Nylon 6” - and in watch hobby, it is otherwise known as perlon. Oh, and don’t forget those Neo-retro high-quality elastic nylon webbings made out of elastic parachute braid. Look beyond all these, and we have an even more comprehensive range of fabric materials that are woven into straps, not just conforming to a single piece, but in the conventional two-piece form too. All that said, the fabric genre provides a distinctive flair that diffuses a sense of fashion with the corroborated robustness and comfortability.

(An example of a Perlon strap) (Photo Credit: StrapCode)

Rubber and Silicone Straps

This particular genre might not exude a lot of sexiness, but rubber straps are meant to be the pinnacle kicks for you when you take it into the water. Consider them as a pair of swim fins as part of your diving outfit. Rubber straps are one of the most versatile, durable, and water-resistant materials, commonly paired with a dive watch as it’s fitting. Rubber material application to horology started in the 1960s when recreational and professional diving was on the rise. Although then, the straps were not as reliable and less comfortable (if you have ever tried an old Z22 Seiko rubber strap, you know what I mean), some companies did otherwise.

(A Ball Skin Diver on a natural rubber strap)

These companies included Swiss Isofrane and Tropic, each with their signature designs that led many to follow suit. You can even find the old Tropic rubber on some vintage Squale dive watches too. These were the predominant rubber straps throughout the 60s and 70s, and thanks to them, they helped popularise this genre of straps.

Rubber straps are mainly made out of four different materials: natural rubber, which is now vulcanized by renowned companies like Bonetto Cinturini and others, for high-performance straps; silicone rubber-like material that is applied by Sinn and Seiko for their watches nowadays; Polyurethane rubber for durability and also high functionality; and lastly the thermoplastic vinyl polymer PVC rubber that is also durable. Other synthetic rubber materials, including isoprene and neoprene, are still utilized by ISOfrane today for their nostalgic rubber straps.

(A modern turquoise ISOfrane rubber)

As time passed and other strap makers got the hang of producing durable rubber straps, many variations became available for us from different companies worldwide. These included the 80s Italian manufacturer Bonetto Cinturini who created a comprehensive offering of rubber straps that are even still supplied to watch brands today. And, of course, Seiko with their iconic rubber straps that are made from silicone materials. Both brands have mastered the art of making these highly-functional rubber straps in their pick of rubber material - both are exemplary in displaying the charisma.

(Another example of an integrated rubber strap from Crafter Blue, on the Seiko Turtle)

These once-boring straps’ characteristics have changed tremendously throughout the years, as they acquired a certain flair of their own. Besides, this genre is heavily resistant to UVA radiation and is non-allergenic and non-toxic. They displayed a unisex appeal with suppleness and expandability when needed while always ready for action (sportiness). And putting metal straps aside, they are the contender for an endless strap choice that is easy to maintain and style.

(An Example of a vintage designed rubber from Bonetto Cinturini (on the right)

Leather Straps

When we ferret into the epitome of leather straps, there is much more to discover than with any other form of watch straps. As with timepieces themselves, straps made from skins of species tell an exciting tale. Generally, when it comes to watch straps, it is common for people to note that watches either are paired with metal bracelets or a form of leather material strap.

(A vintage Seiko on a matching leather strap, and with more choices)

Intriguingly, leather straps are as old as time. The old-world form and panache of material lend a sort of confidence where all feels adequate, sensible, and most importantly, has character. There are options regarding leather straps, especially when an individual design seems “right” for a particular timepiece or transforms the whole vibe of the watch itself to suit one’s taste. These straps have complemented watches since the early days, and in this, are the originators of the whole “wristwatch” affair. No wonder it all feels familiar to us.

Leather straps come from many different sources, but the main staples are: pig, sheep, alligator, stingray, goat, horse, and of course, cow. The latter is considered the largest supplier for our straps and also the most commonly found. However, each source in regards to the scarcity, have their range of grains and patterns that are created. For instance, different leather grains can be found in various parts of cows (calves), pigs, alligators, or even goats. We get the main textures from the outer skin and also suede material from a cow; pebble patterns from an alligator’s belly; or even the aggressive horn-back alligator strap that gives your watch an avant-garde look.

(When it comes to leather, there’s endless design within those sources)

Of course, going through each leather strap element would allow me to write another 5000 words article on its own. To keep things simple and informative here, we’ll denote that leather straps come in way too many styles to discuss here, especially when they are more fashion accessories than a practical function in holding your watch. Even though leather straps are living historical items, they continue to fulfill their duty, and they do so in style.

Before we move on to the next material, it is essential to note that not all leather straps are created equal. Some might pass as a “genuine” one with the low-quality leftover of leathers, or worst, those bonded ones made by gluing leather scraps with dust that should go straight into the bin. Conversely, high-tier leather straps are usually taken care of by professionals in their fields. Through decades of mastery in leatherworks, they became an art of their own, and we can enjoy them as much as we do with our timepieces. We will see some in the latter part of this article through my collection.

(Straps from Squale that are made to the highest Italian quality, comparable to those luxury bags)

Metal Bracelet

When many of us started watch collecting, or even going through the “one watch is enough” phase, we often got one with a metal band. Why? Well, maybe it’s the fact that a metal bracelet is like the all-rounder sneaker or trainer, the only one you will ever need to wear. Whether dressing up formally (although in traditional form, a leather shoe would be the perfect one) or going for some training in the gym or at the park, this “sneaker” will allow you to go on with each activity without compromising.

(Both jubilee and sports bracelets from Steinhart)

Versatile and durable metal strap options seem the most logical choice for many of us. Little did we realize that the current metal bracelets found on our timepieces date back to the 15th century, where they began as purely a piece of jewelry that told time. Best yet, the first was known to be a gift for Queen Elizabeth I in 1571. Throughout the next four centuries, metal bracelets continued to be made as jewelry-like timepieces with an effeminate appeal, especially in precious metals. Not until the thirties do we see metal bracelets prevail, and manufacturers start adopting the material for men’s or sportier watches.

Metal bracelets are produced in scale through different machinery types as they need to be cut, folded, and formed into shapes. It takes a metalsmith or manufacturer to create them as compared to those with handcrafted leather straps. It is believed that metal bracelets somehow have less “character” than leather ones, and they are usually considered boring. But if one understands the prowess needed to develop and produce the world’s most solid material bands for your watch, then there’s arguably the need for appreciation of them. To a certain extent, there is tremendous satisfaction and respect for the construction process and final product.

(A beautiful Milanese mesh bracelet on the 101 Atmos that harkens back to the sixties)

Throughout the years, we can see different shapes and sizes of metal bracelets like, for instance, the three-link sports bracelet usually found on dive watches, mesh bracelets that brings back an era of charm, or dressing up a watch with a “jubilee” style one. You also can find these stylings in different materials. With their colors and prestige, they can transform your watch, giving it a whole new appeal, well within the spectrum of ruggedness or elegance.

(Another fine pairing on the jubilee bracelet for the Ocean One Vintage)

We can significantly see the evolution of metal bracelets through several decades, where manufacturers sought to comply with necessitating the world’s ever-changing trends and events. From intricate gold bracelets made for ladies to steel-folded bracelets arriving with tool watches during World War 2, the oldest form of metal continues to provide “heavy” duty for our wrist and watch.

Personal Line-Up

Finally, after breaking down the long list of the typical straps that we come across, here the fun begins whereby I’d like to showcase some of my collection of straps, both from our store and from other notable strap-makers from the industry. And by that, I don’t mean leather ones alone. Before getting down to those, I believe that the process of strap-changing and the strap itself are considered the idée fixe for myself, where I think many of you experienced the same fad. It’s a fun process where we enjoy the idea of mixing and matching different straps that set us apart on different journeys we undertake with our watches—not convinced yet? Then let me share my journey in strapping things up.

The Ones That Got Things Started

(My habit and obsession)

I started this obsession because of different factors. At the beginning of my watch collecting journey - when I had the opportunity to educate myself on watches on blogs and forums - I noticed the straps shown by different WIS (watch idiot savants) online. In my case, when I got my first JDM Seiko Blume Ref. SBDC003, this watch not just sent me deep into the rabbit hole but also began the strap-changing craze. Before sourcing one my own, I’d been scrolling through the web for the most “honest” reviews about what it is all about from existing owners. I realized most of the owners had their Sumos on different individual strap combinations that they loved. They rocked with their style—seeing the other elusive character of a strap combo resulted in me kickstarting my own obsession.

(My first strap to my Sumo was a NATO)

After a few days of further “poisoning” from other owners intensely, it was time to get my first ever proper mechanical watch from Seiko and then pair it with one of those NATO fabric straps (this was before Daniel Wellington brought it mainstream). Once I got my prize possession SBDC003, I immediately took the stock bracelet off and headed straight to a local store to get a strap that made me feel like James Bond in Goldfinger. All that to grasp a sense of “connectivity” with other Seiko Sumo-diver collectors and NATO fans.

Coincidently that’s where I came into my knowledge of a particular store that specializes in NATO and ZULU straps, and that’s none other than Gnomon Watches. They curated a comprehensive selection of NATOs and Zulus in Singapore and had even been recommended by enthusiasts online all over the world. Long story short, to match my Blumo, I got the “Blue Bond” stripes G10 Nato from them and went on strapping one throughout my adventures - from my university days to scuba diving with it.

(I know, it’s crazy to get three of the same ones from Gnomon)

From that point onwards, I continued to acquire more Zulus and NATOs for it and some leathers. I started to appreciate the concept of how different straps, with different designs and materials - double stripes, vintage brown calves, or gigantic ring loops - all in the name of styling and personalizing my timepiece to suit my current mood and character.

(My latest Steinhart and fabric straps acquisition)

Sometimes it seems ironic for a diver to be on straps that are inappropriate for any aquatic actions or the dive watch theme; I know, condemn me if you want, but I love the look, especially with a characterful brown strap. That said, the whole experience was just the tip of my iceberg. I have gone on to get more straps for many of my new watches - getting those NATOS and rubbers when wanting to have my Steinhart’s and Squale’s ready for my actions throughout the day and then onto some superior vintage-styled leathers for the evening events.

The Customary Cognizance

After graduation and a few more other watch acquisitions (of course, a few more straps here and there) along the way, something hit me about the strap craze. The first time I realized I was gaga over different straps for my hobby was when I got my first Ennebi dive watch from Anders of Gnomon; you can find out more on our site here: For those who are not familiar with the brand, the duo behind this anonymous brand would be both In 2004 Alessandro Bettarini and Luciano Nincheri, which played a significant role in Panerai Pre-Vendome era. When we mention Panerai, we know you are also considered watch-strap nuts if you are into them.

(The one that kickstarted my obsession with straps)

Why talk about watches here along with straps? Because any watch people out there could figure out that there’s no group of watch-nuts out there crazily passionate enough to set the path for many strap makers by creating numerous leather straps, and except for one particular group. The Panerai group and those that follow knew they paid serious attention to the variety of straps thrown on their Luminors and Radiomirs. Well, since Ennebi’s ethos and the collectors behind the brand go about the same passion as those “Paneristi,” they are not excluded from the craze.

(The Fondale on its original Shark leather next to a Ted Su’s ammo strap)

Intruinginly, I vividly remember my first Fondale came with two beautiful straps that recalled the original ones that came on those vintage Panerai - probably made by the same group of people (Mario Paci and Dirk if I’m correct) - like the rugged shark material one, or the ‘Vero Cuoio’ Kodiak brown straps that were just as good - and things were just warming up.

Further, once I began to spend time hanging with several local Ennebi collectors, I realized they, too, have a thing for strap-changing, and I mean, they’re dead serious about experimenting with different kinds of straps. Unsurprisingly, they got me into getting more of my own. Some were kind enough to point me to renowned makers— from the drastic neo-vintage Gunny straps to the original leather of the Swiss ammo pouch by Ted Su. These people were doing works of their own - and realized not all leather straps are made equal, and there’s a beauty within their crafts. I have slowly gotten the taste of how strap-makers like them elevates the experience for us strap-lovers. Such is the inchoate passion it allows me to resonate with.

(My 24mm arsenal just for my Fondale)

From here, I took this obsessive idea and spilled it over to my other timepieces. And not just that, I got particular into unique artisan leathers that exude genuine vibe and character for each of my timepieces. Especially those makers that consider it an art to make their leather straps.
The Leather Routes

You have likely realized that I am not too much of a factory bracelet guy. Our followers on social media and the team know jolly well that by now that when I have a single bit of opportunity to take the metal bands off, I will do so without any hesitation. But that’s not to say that I don’t find metal bands appealing. I enjoy a suitable sports bracelet on several dive watches and love the practicality of them when I take them for a dive or swim - that’s one of the elements that attract me to a metal bracelet in the first place. And also those that I find to be meticulously executed. By that, I mean the ones built by Seiko for their Presage or Marinemaster watches and the highest echelon of Grand Seikos. With these lovely bracelets, I rarely think twice about swapping them out, but I digress here.

(Some look so good on their original metal band)

When I started drawing more and more into the uprising vintage-themed in horology, I was deeply drawn to the “period-correct” style of straps as much as a vintage timepiece or even the re-issues. That’s when I came upon those neat whipped stitch straps commonly found on vintage dive watches or chronographs—riveted calf leathers for your pilot watches—suede ones for a versatile pairing on my field or dress watch. Even the matching alligator grained-pattern fitted on some of the dress models so I could feel the vibe of how a gentleman would wear his in yesteryears. Luckily, the straps that I mentioned here are remakes of those vintage designs compared to the actual ones, which might not be practical due to fragility.

(It’s going to look as good on the alligator strap from Bonetto for the Vortex)

(How about another nice handmade leather from Yi Leather for my Fondale)

Thankfully as I have been in the strap hobby for quite some time now, I tend to know who to look for. I do get them from Rios leather, a German strap-maker in the market for a long time, and have seen them making several for customers and brands like Steinhart (his neighbor) and Damasko. I love them as they are durable, and their pricing is friendly, but most of all, it’s the wide variety of choices and colors that draws me.

(Who says real good leather cannot be affordable?)
Sometimes, as a strapping guy, you know you deserve some bespoke ones or those from top of the line. For those mentioned above, I would usually go to Yi Leather - a personal friend who has been making straps for many collectors and several local watch brands, too, for the past decade. For the latter, my go-to would be one from Bulang and Sons (you can see plenty of them on our Facebook and Instagram). They curate the best in the market, mostly made from the legendary Jean-Paul Menicucci from Tuscany, with stylish yet appropriate ones for your watches to turn up your vintage mood. Others like the above-mentioned Ted Su with his incredible aged leathers that are merely cool and do not forget one of my favorite watch and strap brand - Squale’s handmade Italian leather. I do have many others, but for now, these are the top picks. These types do come with some hefty price tags (Panerai/Ennebi straps included), but as I have mentioned earlier, these are the types with creators that are in relentless pursuit of handmade quality. One could argue that you are paying for almost artist-level straps.

(The navy blue and mocha brown Italian leather straps from Squale)
Yes, leather straps can be seen in a general sense because innumerable people in this market use the material. But, the quality matters! With their sheer enthusiasm in crafting the finest leather, the handful of renowned leather makers are a different story. It’s hard to explain why one needs to get these types of crafted leather straps, which seem mostly to be just-another-two-piece leather for the watch. But I know one thing: these leather makers take their work seriously, crafting the most delicate handmade straps to their highest capabilities without any compromises. A handful of us appreciates their tastes and crafts as we do with watchmaking. The truth is, there is an unfortunately large amount of horror in this segment of cheaply made leathers. When getting your hands on maybe a copied design made using “genuine” leather material, the quality always seems questionable, and that dampens the whole idea of what is a great leather strap.

(My Bulang vintage leathers feel different from any others)
For us strap geeks, it can be seen almost as a privilege that few can attest to owning. All that effort and experience placed onto the straps, created just so we can have the “perfect” pairing, which brings out many characters for your watches. You can’t argue there’s no heart and soul in these leathers. There’s nowhere else to go for this, only through a leather strap maker that makes them passionately for us. 

(A nice bespoke distressed leather for the 101 Atmos when I want more character for it)


More Than Just Leather
Although I have been mentioning quite a bit about my leather straps, I would like to inform you that I do have the same love for rubber straps. I started changing up some of my dive watches to rubber ones, sometimes just for the sake of the complete look. I curated some from Squale. They have some sixties skin-divers like the 50 Atmos and the period-correct designed rubber strap - the tropic straps are killers – and don’t forget their Milanese mesh bracelet and the Italian vintage leathers. I’ve worn and changed into ones from Steinhart, with their integrated rubber for the Ocean series; and the famous Isofrane premium rubber that brings back the old-school “ladder” patterned rubber straps; and those integrated ones from Crafter Blue for the Seikos.

(My love for Squale tropic rubber straps can be justified here)

(Steinhart’s integrated rubber for the Oceans)

I do not consider myself a pure NATO straps guru, nor sworn by the leathers, but I fancy the whole concept of each and different types of straps; the design with each function of styles. Also, as I have a soft spot for details and unique personalities on my timepieces, that can be said equally for my strap choices. Whether those straps are made from just a single artisan or a factory-like ISOfrane or Bonetto Cinturrini with their dazzling rubber straps, I believe every one of them is done meticulously. I would even put them up as challenging the effort to fabricate a metal bracelet for your watch. That said, I do a swap or keep some lovely metal bracelets on my watches when I am in the mood for versatility and robustness for my day.

(My Damasko DSub 1 on an ISOFrane rubber)

(Keeping my Titanium 500 on its titanium bracelet shouts sportiness and ready for action)
Ok, so the list could go on without even going in-depth into each, but from here, we have acknowledged my strap journey is sort of out of control. But my purpose is to share my penchant for more style and characters. I still think it’s a magical trick to putting a lovely tan leather with whipped stitchings on an Ocean 39 Military, which utterly transforms it. Also, strap-nuts like me when in the process of finding the right strap for my watch, my mind immediately gravitates towards an excellent period-correct type and style that appears complete. And the whole process never seems to get old. Even if I am somehow unable to acquire more watches one day, that will never stop me from changing the straps up from my existing collection.

(Or swap it out to its integrated rubber strap for more sportiness with some casual)

Flexibility and Style

By now, you’d imagine there’s almost no rational behavior for me when it comes to what matters for my watches. And throughout my journey, I have come to learn a lot from other strap savants and, from there, honing experiences and curating my array of watch straps. There is a longstanding, never-ending love affair between me and watch straps, with each different one that could evoke a sense of personalized appeal when paired with your timepieces. They also provide another way to appreciate your watches.

(My “Baby” Marinemaster 200 on a nice Rios tan leather)

When one embodies the whole idea, it is when a kind of fun begins. The combination of different types allows you to dress the watch up or down, get your particular piece to match your current mood or style, or maybe even have a functional intention. Every single strap brings an exceptional warmth and character to your watches in ways that you might not able to imagine until you try that particular combination. All you have to do is remove both sides’ spring bars, through the lugs holes or from the back, and on it goes with a new pair of “shoes” for your watch.

On top of that, straps reinvigorate what might be a plain watch on a monotonous strap (not always a bad thing), releasing its inner-self by merely swapping out for a richer tone strap. Rather than emptying your wallet to get other “color” variants to change things up, the flexibility of allowing your existing ones to change their looks might be a better choice. You might want to be friendlier to your pocket or save up for another grail piece. It can be viewed as an experimental process to understand how each watch can bring you a unique sense of style.

(Removing the current strap using the spring bar tool with its “V” shape head)
If we argue that strap-changing is not becoming a passive thing for watch people, why wouldn’t the watch community notice this habit, so much so that most of the watch brands now have come out with their own? It is a strategic move to offer a diverse range of strap options, enticing watch consumers like us not to be stuck with a choice where you might stumble upon a great watch with one dull element. These companies cater to gaining new or existing consumers who might want to style up their current watch or complete the full brand image when strap replacement is needed.

(Never to restrict your watch from looking stylish with one permanent strap combo)

One shouldn’t feel restricted by the watch’s current strap and can pick the style from an oceanic worth of selections with tasteful styling. Nothing beats the idea of putting on a matching Milanese bracelet or jubilee with a vintage diver like the 101 Atmos and Ocean vintage collections to bring a certain liveliness and charm to what could be an overboard, serious-looking tool watch.

(A matching elastic fabric strap that I put on when I swim with the Marine Blue 39)

(Steinhart has released its jubilee bracelet for a retro alternative)

Irreplaceable Satisfaction and Sentiments

Before we come to a close on this personal-taste article, it’s important to remind both myself and you readers of the singular satisfaction in the strap-changing phenomenon. People outside the watch circle might not understand the whole “fetish” around it, and I firmly believe they never will - that doesn’t matter either, as this leans more to personal practice and what matters to each individual.

(My arsenal of JPM straps from Bulang and Sons)

It reflects the way one goes about his or her life. Pairing things that suit his or her lifestyle creates great satisfaction. I’m not a fashionista, nor do I work in a sartorial company (although Gnomon members usually are into this as well). Still, I dig the concept, the sentiments, and the character of what an excellent matching (or not) strap can do for me. Also, watch funds are desiccated at times, and I can’t possibly purchase every single watch I grail for. However, I want to enjoy my existing timepieces, and the only way to make them look fresh would be by changing their shoes. I have the habit of changing my strap on my watch almost every other time I’m preparing to strap it on, and sometimes it gets so bad that I change it up twice within a day. To be precise, I have enjoyed styling up watches every single time, and it gives me satisfaction with my watches to feel personalized with sui generis.

(Getting the Vortex ready for some action)

With different material choices and styles, I’m able to indulge in almost never-ending ideas or inspiration running rampant. That’s another true essence of different types of straps in this world. That said, with some amount of time of wearing those straps, especially those earthly toned leathers, watching them age gracefully in the process might replicate the sentimental process of that with watches overall, in my opinion. Therefore I truly enjoy this two-minute habit to switch to a new blend of visual dynamism and energy through a single strap.

The concoction of straps and watches do have their ardent supporters, of which I am included. Yes, there might be a few who stick to the stock or the “this is it” strap throughout the watch-wearing period, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I’d admit that one might be missing out on an entire segment when changing up for your watch. You can’t miss out on the chance to make your watch hobby a little more fun, styling up your watches that might be looking too “generic,” if you take my meaning. Otherwise, you might lose some of the pizzazz. It’s what makes this hobby all the more fulfilling. Besides, once you get “bored” or want to have back the original look, you can always swap back the original strap the watch comes with at any point in time. The process is like an ingenious innovation, in ways that prevent one from getting bored with your new finds that you’ve strapped on a couple of times and got tired of eventually.

(There’s no right or wrong in watch straps; see this leather combo with a dive watch)

I am trying to emphasize that I find joy in exploring new straps whenever I can and appreciate the watches that allow me to (not blaming those who come with integrated straps). It is in continuous motion while still allowing the watch to keep its original essence, elevating the character and coolness. Even after doing so for many years, while I’m sure other seasoned collectors have more than me, we could vouch that the enjoyment in strap changing tends to last as much as the first time we are exposed to it. Over time, we’ll eventually have an urge or desire for change and to have new vibes on our wrists. Heck, it even prolongs our collections’ lifespan. It might be the kick we need to appreciate further our longstanding timepieces—such a straightforward way to breathe new life into our favorites with limitless strap choices.


Of course, this series on “What Matters” is subjective and personal. I want to remind my dear readers again that this article is mostly about my endless passion for watch straps, and I hope to open up your thoughts on this niche hobby. I sincerely hope that this could be a piggyback sort of fun that you might want to have with your own watch collection - whether you’re about to get your first Steinhart from us or as a seasoned collector who never thought of this idea.

(Never too many straps for your watch collection)

Incorporating the concept allows a more in-depth perspective, in which the watch hobby is more than just a matter of gear-works, accuracy, or complications. Instead, strap changing can be an expression of a simple philosophy of styling your watches with another form of artisan crafts, connecting to the watch universe amongst us watch people. If we understand this innovative process’s value, we can truly appreciate the importance of this hobby as more than just a metal band-deep. So go on out and explore new ideas for #whatsonyourwrist and relish some new swag on your way out.

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