Leather Watch Straps

Having briefly covered the various types of watch strap in our article here (https://www.boutiquevonburg.com/news/watch-straps-a-breakdown) we thought it was time to go into more detail about one of the more varied watch straps out there – the leather watch strap. Leather as a substance is imbedded into human history where its use was made as a crafting and clothing tool with the advent of animal husbandry and hunting. More recently however it has been used to fix watches to wrists and it is this use of the strap that we will be covering in this article. Read on to find out more.

As alluded to in our previous articles, it is thought the practise of strapping one’s pocket-watch to the wrist came about in the late 19th century, or at least early 20th century, where the practicalities of checking the time by reaching into one’s pocket were unsuitable for conditions such as flying and on the battlefield. Adoption of leather straps then became the normal method to fix one’s watch, becoming a useful way to access the time whilst otherwise engaged. Military use in particular would see the leather wrist strap gain momentum and the early commission of these straps would be the forerunners to the more modern Zulu and Nato straps we see today.


Leather as a material is an incredibly versatile natural material which we feel is worth covering. The material is so popular that now faux leather is also produced as an alternative, and both can be used for watches, but what exactly is leather?

Genuine leather is a typically made from the hide of various animals such as cows, goats, sheep, pigs, horses, and more rarely, alligator, crocodile, lizard, kangaroo, snakes, and so on. In fact leather can be made from the hide of any animal in a complicated multi-step process, though more exotic hides are now less commonly used due to animal rights activism.

As a solution to animal rights sensitivities a process known as embossing means the surface of a more widely acceptable leather can be altered to match the texture and appearance of rarer leathers, for example alligator embossed calfskin leather, where calfskin or cowhide is often chosen as the underlying leather.

Further finishing and alterations can be made to affect the overall finish of leather, for example embossing, punching, stitching and layering of the leather watch straps. Often multiple layers of leather may be combined, or padding cores may be added between layers of leather to give a thicker stronger profile strap. These factors all play in to the overall look and appearance of the strap and are further affected by the use of oils, surface treatments, texturing, and graining, as part of the genuine leather production process. Faux leather straps on the other hand are a little more simple and are simply factory made.

When it comes to the leather strap there are a few widely accepted and traditionally known styles, which we will go into. Further considerations beyond style include the choice of leather, for example with exotic hides such as alligator being tougher and harder wearing, but more expensive, versus cheaper calfskin, which happens to also be softer. Different leathers offer different opportunities to experiment with. Another consideration is colour matching with other items of clothing you may wear, a useful point of interest is that generally the darker the colour of leather, the more formal it is. With these considerations in mind, let us get to the straps.

Stitched leather straps

Stitched leather straps are a common way of bolstering the thickness of leather, and may be used in conjunction with padding and gluing. They find a range of applications including use with rugged Nato and Zulu straps, to the more elegant hand-stitched exotic leather strap. Stitching may be hand or machine made, and generally contributes to the overall look, feel, and character of the strap. Likened to the pinstripes of a suit the stitching can create extra flair, and this can also be achieved with the buckles, clasps, rivets, and staples, known as strap hardware, attached to the strap. Stitching can be seen on our own Claro watch below (https://www.boutiquevonburg.com/brands/brand-watches/claro-watch/men-s-sports-star-black-dial-quartz-chronograph-watch).

Rally style/Perforated straps

Often used synonymously racing style straps and perforated straps both exhibit the trend of having perforations or punch/cut outs in the strap. The original role of this was to reduce weight and help dissipate heat where traditionally the watches were used in rally car cockpits, hence the name. Cut outs are also seen in other aspects of motorsport, such as racing gloves, seats, and seat covers, and this style has been adopted, giving us the perforated strap.

Stylistically it is said that rally straps look best on larger watches, traditionally chronographs, due to their association with motor-racing and aviation. Care must be taken with smaller watches, as large cut-outs may overwhelm or distract from a subtler watch, however overall the use of cut-outs also provides practical cooling, compared to a solid strap. An example of the rally style strap can be seen on our own Claro Sports Star chronographs (https://www.boutiquevonburg.com/brands/brand-watches/claro-watch/men-s-sports-star-black-dial-quartz-chronograph-watch).

Bund straps

Bund straps are broad backed straps to which the watch is fixed. Originating from the German military in the mid 20th century this strap was often used in aviation where it was said the extra backing of the strap helped cushion the feel of the watch on the wrist, as well as protect from weather extremes, and fire. Whilst still made of leather these straps are not as commonly seen, possibly due to their extra bulk, though are still endorsed by some. Due to their association with aviation style watches it is thought that this is the best style of watch to be paired with, if you can stand the heat of the extra leather on a hot day!

We hope you enjoyed our article. Check out our other pages for more news and stay tuned for more!