Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’ll be taking a look at some of the handcrafted straps that local strapmaker, Cozy Handmade, has sent me.
To me, the unique selling point of Cozy Handmade’s straps have always been their value. Starting from as low as $36 SGD (after promo code below), all of Cozy Handmade’s straps are handcrafted, and made out of full-grain, vegetable tanned leather. That’s incredible value for money, and I’m glad I’ve finally had a chance to take a closer look at their products!
Cozy Handmade – the Brand
Intrigued, I sent some questions over to the team at Cozy Handmade. I think that their replies shed some light on who they are, and what they stand for!
1) Tell us more about Cozy Handmade, and what the brand hopes to achieve.
It began with inspiration.
A background in design, appreciation for quality, passion for leather crafting and love for authenticity. Those are the key elements that brought us together and inspired what is now known to be Cozy Handmade.
Passion and inspiration are manifested in each of our personalized creations. All our leather goods are completely crafted by adept hands – from cutting to stitching – while staying true to our brand philosophy of producing elegant, minimalist, functional and durable leather goods.
2) How did Cozy Handmade start?
We started out as a group of watch enthusiasts with a desire for creating the perfect watch straps using high-quality, authentic materials. This hobby led to creating small leather accessories for our personal use or as gift for family and friends.
3) What should one look out for when buying a watch strap?
The following are things we feel one should to consider when buying a watch strap.
Determine and choose a strap that looks compatible with your watch’s character. For example, elegant dressy watches will look more compatible with a fine exotic leather strap, whereas a thicker and rugged vintage leather strap will work better for military watches.
Decide what types of strap style you prefer – One-piece strap (e.g. NATO, ZULU) or two-piece watch strap.
From aesthetic point of view, a thinner strap will look better with watch that has a flatter case, whereas a large chunky watch is best match with a thicker strap.
When buying a one-piece leather strap, it is important to make sure that the gap between the spring bar and watch case has enough clearance for the leather strap to pass through.
The above are just suggestions. Ultimately, personal taste plays a big role when it comes to choosing a watch strap.
4) What kind of leather do Cozy Handmade use in your straps?
We use full grain vegetable tanned leather imported directly from one of the associated tanneries of Consorzio Vera Pelle Italiana Conciata al Vegetale (Genuine Italian Vegetable-Tanned Leather). The Consorzio safeguards, guarantees and preserves the vegetable tanned leather produced in Tuscany.
5) As your name suggests, all of your straps are handmade. What sort of handiwork goes into the making of a Cozy Handmade strap?
All handmade straps are made to order and are 100% crafted by hand – from cutting of straps from the leather hide, gluing, burnishing, punching of holes to sewing. No machine is used in the process.
6) Out of the straps that you carry, which is your favorite to craft?
Honestly, we do not have any favorite strap to craft. Our main objective is to make straps that match our customers’ watches, and customer’s satisfaction is our source of motivation to strive to do better.
7) Singapore has an abundance of strapmakers – what makes Cozy Handmade unique?
Our straps are mainly rugged and vintage in style. We make each piece meticulously by hand, using high quality materials that can stand the test of time, and we offer them at reasonable price.
Cozy Handmade – Review
Cozy Handmade was kind enough to send me three straps of theirs for me to review – let’s get started!
Cozy Handmade describes this as the ideal strap “… if you like the idea of one piece leather watch strap but something different from NATO and ZULU style.” What impressed me was that despite being the cheapest strap they offer, all one piece straps by Cozy Handmade are made of full grain, vegetable tanned leather. For the uninitiated, leather generally comes in 3 quality tiers: genuine leather being the most common as well as the lowest quality, then top grain, with full grain leather being the cream of the crop. In addition to being full grain, the leather that Cozy Handmade uses are vegetable tanned as well. As compared to chromed tanned leather (using artificial chemicals to tan leather), vegetable tanned leather takes more craftsmanship to manufacture, is more natural and environmentally friendly, and is also supposedly better on your skin (especially towards those with sensitive skin, or skin conditions). Each one of Cozy Handmade’s strap comes with a small certificate (see picture above), assuring customers that the piece of leather one holds is indeed, a full grain vegetable tanned leather sourced from a respected tannery in Tuscany, Italy.
I have to say that this is the best quality leather strap that I’ve seen at this price range. Look at that! One can clearly see the pulled fibers of the leather (something you look out for, if you’re buying leather products), confirming to me that this is indeed, full grain leather. Full grain leather refers to the outermost portion of the leather hide, where one should be able to clearly see the fibers and little imperfections in the leather. Due to the inherent characteristics of full grain leather, different portions of the leather will patina differently due to a variety of variables, such as water, air, oil, sweat, etc. Over time, you should see the leather darkening beautifully over time – that’s the beauty of full grain leather. Despite the relatively short time that I have had the strap one, one can already see (refer to picture above) that the strap has already started to patina. Simply beautiful.
The one piece strap comes unlined, which not only gives the strap a raw feel and look, but also undoubtedly contributes towards a lower price tag. I don’t mind it – the back of the strap has been smoothed sufficiently so that the strap remains comfortable on the skin. I personally think it also pairs well with the military vibe (after all, this particular variant is called the Military 103) of the strap. However, while I think the leather quality is superb for the price, corners had to be cut somewhere in order for Cozy Handmade to keep the price as low, and this is evident in the lack of stitching throughout the strap. There’s no saddle-stitching here, which is usually a hallmark of a great handcrafted strap – but to be fair, at $36 (after promo code below), I wasn’t expecting it anyway! I believe the one piece strap from Cozy Handmade is a great strap for those on a budget, or for those looking for something a little different.
Cozy Handmade states that this leather NATO strap “features a gorgeous texture with natural characteristics that will give your watch an instant vintage stylish look.” I have to say – I agree. I think that the Vintage 403 leather NATO strap best suits vintage inspired watches, such as this BOLDR Journey. Paired with the wire lugs, as well as that classic chronograph dial layout, the tan leather NATO strap serves to accentuate the best features of this watch. Not to diss BOLDR, but as compared to the stock strap that the Journey came on, I think that this is an instant upgrade – both in quality and style. Similar to the one piece strap, full grain vegetable tanned leather is used here!
As with the previous strap, the fine fibers of the leather can be seen (see picture above), which is again indicative of a quality leather strap. In contrast to the previous one piece strap however, we get some hand-stitching this time around! I suppose that’s where the price increase goes to – you’re paying a slight premium (~$10 SGD) for the handiwork of the stitching. In my personal opinion, the stitching elevates the leather NATO strap over the one piece strap, whose design can perhaps be viewed as a tad basic and plain.
Like the one piece strap, the back of the leather NATO strap is unlined for that raw, vintage look – again, also a way Cozy is able to keep the price relatively affordable. However, the leather NATO strap here is slightly thicker than the one piece strap, making it more comfortable and supple on the wrist as a result. When worn, it does really feel quite premium. For those with slightly thicker watches (the BOLDR Journey is 14.2mm), I suggest investing a bit more and going for the leather NATO strap. However, if you have a slimmer watch (say, the BOLDR Venture), the one piece strap may be more appropriate.
Lastly, Cozy Handmade also sent me their Vintage 406 two piece Leather, which I have paired on my Arcturus LC-1. It’s one of the more expensive products Cozy Handmade offers, and it’s also wearable with the Apple Watch – one simply needs an adapter. The aesthetics of this strap is again decidedly vintage (I mean, it is in the name), and thus I decided to pair it with my Arcturus LC-1, whose art-deco design harkens back to the golden era of the roaring twenties!
Due to the handcrafted nature of the strap, one also gets to choose between side (as I have done) or saddle stitching. In addition, thread colour choices are also available, and one can decide upon the length, width, and buckle finishing of the strap. As compared to the previous, lower priced strap options, there are more customisation options available here.
In addition, more handiwork is apparent here. At the sides, one sees the presence of edge dye, and the sides are nicely smoothed. Applying edge dye to the sides of a strap is a painstaking process, and it is a feature most do not see on off-the-rack straps.
In addition, the strap loops of the Vintage 406 are cross stitched (hand-sewn) for added durability. It’s also rather aesthetically pleasing! Talking about aesthetics, I’m a fan of the subtle Cozy branding on the buckle – it’s there to show that they have made an effort, but it’s not glaringly out of place.
I’m very pleased with the lining of the Vintage 406. Many off the rack straps at this pricing look good on the outside, but uses this stiff, cardboardy lining on the inside (Hirsch, ahem). In contrast, the leather lining of the Vintage is soft, supple, and a joy to wear on the wrist. It’s worth noting that unlike aforementioned strap brands, Cozy Handmade continues to use full-grain, vegetable tanned leather even for the lining – one can again clearly see the muscle fibers of the leather. I think this may be the best lining I’ve seen at this price range (sub $80 SGD), to be honest! For those looking for a cheaper option, it’s worth noting that Cozy Handmade does offer unlined variants at $55 SGD (after promo code below), though personally I think the slight premium is well worth the money. Really good job on this two piece strap!
Update: Cozy has informed me that they have updated the lining of their best-seller, the Vintage strap. Now, the lining on the Vintage strap is fashioned out of the exact same leather used for the exterior of the strap. According to Cozy, this not only leads to a more consistent look on the strap itself, but also in quality control.
Recently, Cozy sent me one of their newest strap designs to review!
According to Cozy, this new leather NATO design is engineered to have “no excess strap tail to be folded back into the keeper, and the position of the buckle is on the opposite side of the watch.” As such, it acts and feels like a regular 2 piece watch straps on the wrist, while retaining that leather NATO look.
Like on most of their straps, this leather NATO is made from Italian full-grain vegetable tanned leather. Look at the leather fibers evident on the strap – simply beautiful, and you instantly know that it is quality. Due to its full-grain nature, the strap will patina beautifully over time.
Unlike the aforementioned leather NATO strap, the Vintage 403 Style II is lined with the same Italian full-grain vegetable tanned leather, making it more comfortable on the wrist. However, it also adds some bulk – this is one thick strap, and in my personal experience, it may not feet with all watches, especially if the watch has shorter lugs.
On the wrist, the leather NATO strap is immensely comfortable. I also love its rugged and vintage look – I personally think it pairs best with divers. At just S$79, it’s quite a good value proposition as well, with lined leather NATOs often costing more than S$100 from other strapmakers. If you’re looking for a durable, comfortable leather NATO strap, I think this will fit the bill quite nicely!
Conclusion: so Cozy Handmade straps “shiok” or not?
Definitely – I would wholeheartedly recommend Cozy Handmade straps in a heartbeat. Due to the quality of the leather used in their straps (even in their most affordable offerings), they represent great bang-for-buck. Their straps – full grain, vegetable tanned leather from Tuscany, Italy – are amazing value propositions. For you Apple Watch owners out there, Cozy Handmade also sells a variety of Apple Watch straps – their strap will probably outlive your Apple Watch!
For those interested in the straps from Cozy Handmade, simply use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” for 10% off! After the discount, I personally think that Cozy Handmade’s straps are a steal. Support your local leather artisans, guys! For my non-Singaporean readers (and I know there’s quite a substantial amount of you), Cozy Handmade offers FREE international shipping for orders above $50 SGD – that’s icing on the cake, I reckon!
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!