Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be reviewing a few “universal” straps from the local strap label Solitaire.

Solitaire is a local strap atelier that has carved out a niche by offering bespoke leather products such as key fobs, wallets, and watch straps. It recently introduced a new line of readymade – but still handcrafted – watch straps, which the brand terms “universal” straps due to their universal versatility. Let’s see if they are any good.

Solitaire – the Brand

Solitaire was founded in 2013 by Ren Yi, who first started handcrafting leather goods out of his bedroom. In the decade since, Solitaire has grown from strength to strength, blossoming into a team of 12 operating out of Far East Plaza. Aside from leather straps, Solitaire also offers a curated collection of luxury watches, and rubber straps for Rolex watches.

The universal straps are Solitaire’s most affordable offerings to date, so let’s take a closer look.

Solitaire – Epsom Universal Straps

Let’s start with the brand’s Epsom leather strap.

As its name suggests, the strap is crafted out of Epsom leather, which is one of the most popular types of leather in the world. Known for its distinctive texture, Epsom leather is scratch-resistant and is used by some of the biggest brands in the world, including Hermes.

Solitaire’s universal straps are lined with French Zermatt lining, which is hypoallergenic and water/sweat resistant. It feels premium to the touch and is comfortable on the wrist. Zermatt is now my go-to lining for straps – I always look for straps with Zermatt lining.

Epsom leather also readily absorbs dyes, resulting in vibrant hues that will stand the test of time. Solitaire offers 6 strikingly coloured Epsom options: Shadowfall (Black), Midnight Storm (pictured above), Sandstorm, The Mandarin, Frosty Breeze, and Snow White. Those looking to give their watches a pop of colour certainly won’t be disappointed here.

Still, my favourite was the Midnight Storm, which is akin to a midnight blue colour. It’s more subdued and therefore more versatile, allowing me to pair it with a variety of watches. And at $90 (after the promo code below), Solitaire’s handcrafted Epsom leather strap is still relatively affordable as compared to the market.

Solitaire – Pueblo Universal Straps

Next are the Pueblo straps.

Pueblo leather comes from the Italian tannery, Badalassi Carlo, which is a member of the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium. It is fashioned from the shoulder of the hide, and thus possesses superb strength and durability.

Pueblo leather is known for its unique patina, as well as its rugged appearance that’s filled with rustic charm. It’s almost the opposite of the abovementioned Epsom leather – the Epsom leather strap is dressier, while the Pueblo leather strap has a more robust appearance. Pueblo will patina significantly more than Epsom as well, so if patina is important to you then stick with Pueblo leather.

Aside from the French Zermatt lining, Solitaire’s universal straps also feature quick-release spring bars for easy interchangeability, as well as hand-stitched strap loops for greater durability.

My favourite aspect of the Pueblo universal straps is how well it pops. It’s eminently striking on the wrist, with a distinctive texture that simply draws attention. Like the Epsom strap, it’s priced at $90 (after the promo code below), making it a solid value proposition.

Solitaire – Buttero Universal Straps

Last but certainly not least is the Buttero strap.

Buttero leather is vegetable-tanned, full-grain leather from Conceria Walpier, an esteemed tannery in Italy. More commonly used in leather objects such as belts and wallets, Buttero leather straps are prized for their wonderful patina, as well as their rich colour and durability. In appearance and feel, Buttero leather is similar to Horween Chromexcel, though slightly more refined.

Despite being ready-stock, each of Solitaire’s universal straps is handmade, and it shows – the stitching is done by hand, with the edges of the strap painted and buffed by hand too.

Even the end-stitching (to prevent leather splitting) is done by hand. And yes, the straps are available in a variety of lengths to allow customers to get the right fit.

Overall, Solitaire’s Buttero leather strap – like the rest of the brand’s universal straps – is a solid value proposition, and a no-brainer for those who want a smooth-textured leather strap. It’s durable, handcrafted, and at $90 (after the promo code below) it won’t burn a hole in your pocket (unlike bespoke watch straps).

Conclusion – so Solitaire’s Universal Watch Straps “shiok” or not?

Definitely so. Whether it’s a $1000 microbrand watch or a $10000 Rolex, Solitaire’s handcrafted universal watch straps present a solid value proposition that will serve your watch well. The brand doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but offers convenience and a quality handcrafted product at an affordable price. Of all three straps, my personal favourite is the Pueblo strap – I love the rustic charm, which pairs well with both tool watches (such as my Tudor Black Bay 58 Silver) and dressier timepieces (such as my IWC Portuguese chronograph). In fact, I loved the Pueblo strap so much that I returned to get another (which was why there were two).

Those interested in purchasing the universal straps can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” for 10% off the universal straps range from Solitaire’s webstore. After the discount, Solitaire’s universal straps can be had for just $90, which is relatively affordable for handcrafted straps. My only knock is the rather limited range (only three leather types are available at present), and the lack of larger lug widths (22mm is unavailable, for example) – I hope to see more options made available soon!

View the full range of Solitaire’s universal straps here.

P.S: Check out The Shiok Store here – it serves as a curation of my favourite products from my favourite brands.

P.P.S: Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!

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P.P.P.P.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.