There are no shortage of strapmakers in Singapore, but 47Ronin sets themselves apart from the rest of their competition through their unique use of Japanese materials. All of 47Ronin’s straps are Japanese inspired, resulting in an unique oriental look. They were nice enough to send me one of their straps for review – let’s see if it’s any good!
47Ronin – the Brand
To learn more about the brand, I sat down with Tong (founder of 47Ronin) for a short interview!
Tell us more about 47Ronin, and how the brand came about!
T: 47Ronin is a designer brand handcrafted with authentic high quality leader and exotic materials from Japan. Each piece is designed to convey a personal story much like the uniqueness of the materials, place of origin, craftsmen and legends behind it.
Personally, I went to Japan for the first time at 15 for a homestay. This changed my life, and I promised myself that I must live in Japan at least once in my life. Upon graduation from university, I moved to Kyoto where I spent 5 years living in the ancient capital of Japan. Upon returning to Singapore, I decided to create a product that put a piece of Japan’s beauty on everyone’s wrist, taking it to places wherever you go.
From your point of view, what should one look out for in a handcrafted strap?
T: Firstly, one should look out for the material, what grade of leather the watch strap uses. I actually did a blog post about it here.
Next, you need to make sure that the lug width fits your watch, and that the length of the strap is appropriate for your wrist. For more information, I also did a blog post on this topic here.
Which is your personal favourite strap to craft?
T: It is hard to say which is my favourite, every creation has inspired me. I put together many elements to craft watch straps, such as:
- Leather of different colour, texture, embossment, thickness
- Cutting out different shapes and sizes from the leather to create windows for inserting the Japanese fabric
- Japanese materials such as kimono fabric, uniform buttons, and things with stories behind
- Stitching of different colour and thread thickness
- Stitching of different patterns
- Stainless steel buckles of different colours and style
- Applying edge paint of different colours to the edge of the straps
With all these permutation, there are tons of possibilities, and you cannot imagine them until I have put them all together to create the final product. The process is interesting and it inspires me in my design.
Are there any new strap designs in the pipeline?
T: Yes, there are many, such as using metal components from Katana knives, other exotic materials from Japan that are of traditional value or come with an interesting story.
More design will be done for ladies too, as well as exploring into leather bracelets of the same design concept.
47Ronin Strap Review – $234 USD
For the most part, I’m pretty impressed by the strap I got from 47Ronin!
As the name suggests, the brand 47Ronin was inspired by the Japanese samurais of old. Given that the Valimor Caliburnus was also a warrior inspired watch, I decided to pair the 47Ronin strap with it, and I think it turned out quite well! As the dial of the Caliburnus is relatively simple and subtle, it really allows the 47Ronin strap to shine.
For those uninitiated with leather, leather generally comes in 3 different grades – genuine leather, top-grain leather, and full-grain leather, in ascending order of quality. Full grain leather essentially means that the leather used is taken from the upper most portion of the hide, which also happens to be the most durable and supple. Here’s a tip: when buying leather products, make sure you can see the individual grains of the leather on the surface. Leather is literally skin, so one should see the pores and grains of the leather – if all you see is a uniform, matte surface, that’s often a sign of poor quality or “corrected” leather. As aforementioned, 47Ronin uses full-grain leather in their straps, so not only is it durable and supple, it will also patina beautifully over time, though the patina effect is less obvious on black.
The Japanese fabric used in 47Ronin’s straps is actually tatamiberi! Tatamiberi is the decorative fabric edge which runs along the edges of tatami mats. Often found in a variety of designs (which traditionally denotes one’s social standing), tatamiberi is not only serves an aesthetic purpose, but is also resilient and tough as a material, given that its purpose is to protect the edges of tatami mats from abrasion. For more information, 47Ronin did another informative blog post on the topic, which can be read here.
Personally, I love it. While my love and knowledge of the Japanese culture may not be as deep as Tong’s, I’m definitely still a fan – I watch One Piece religiously every weekend, and drink a cup of Japanese Matcha almost daily. When it comes to straps, I find the strap strikingly unique. I’ve personally not seen straps where the leather is strategically cut out to reveal decorative fabric underneath. I think it’s a unique concept and design, one that’s bound to turn heads especially amongst watch enthusiasts. I like the alternation of shapes as well!
All straps from 47Ronin are handstitched, and it’s obvious – the stitching is angled, and of the same width on both sides. A handstitched strap will always be more durable than a machine stitched one! Not only does it add an artisanal touch, it also prolongs the lifespan of your strap. On regular machine stitched strap, if the thread breaks, the entire stitching starts to unravel. On handstitched straps, this is not the case as each thread is individually stitched. Furthermore, notice how there’s only one strap hole? That’s the sign of a bespoke strap, whereby a hole is punched based on your exact wrist specification. If you have been encountering issues with straps that are either too small or too long, go bespoke!
On well made straps, the strap loops should always be stitched for greater durability. On cheaper straps, the strap loops are often glued, which comes apart after a while. Stitched strap loops enhances the durability of the strap loop, preventing it from breaking. Interesting, the strap loop on my 47Ronin strap features stitching in the shape of a square, which Tong tells me is a stylistic choice. In case you’re wondering, the inner lining of the strap is made of full-grain leather as well, thus ensuring that it’s supple and comfortable – no cardboardy lining here!
Overall, I think the straps from 47Ronin are well crafted, but also undeniably cool and unique. It also pays great homage to Japanese culture. I can imagine some of their straps being the perfect compliment to a Seiko Presage Urushi or even a Grand Seiko Snowflake! If you are searching for straps with unique designs, check out 47Ronin.
Conclusion – so 47Ronin “shiok” or not?
Definitely. I’ve reviewed quite a number of handcrafted straps till date, but so far the 47Ronin strap stands out the most due to its creative incorporation of Japanese fabric and design. As aforementioned, it’s definitely something different from the multitude of strapmakers out there! Furthermore, 47Ronin allows you to fully customise the strap (material, thread colour, Japanese fabric, etc) to your liking as well. I don’t really have much to critique about the strap, except for perhaps its price – at $234 USD/ ~S$325, that’s a hefty penny. In fact, that’s even more expensive than an exotic (alligator, python, stingray, etc) strap! You’re definitely paying a premium for the uniqueness of the strap. If you’re planning to pair it with a $7000+ Grand Seiko that’s fine, but this definitely wouldn’t be one I’ll pair with a humble Orient Bambino or a Seiko Cocktail Time for example.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant you 10% off all online as well as in-store orders! If you’ve always been a fan of Japanese culture or Japanese watchmaking, 47Ronin straps allow you to wear a piece of Japan on your wrist, wherever you go – now that’s something.
View 47Ronin’s full range of products here.
6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, JustCo,
#03-308 Singapore 039594
(By appointment only, Whatsapp: +65-86567631)
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!