Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Saturday, I’m reviewing a couple of straps from local strap label Strapatelier.
There’s no shortage of local strap labels – in fact, I rounded up 12 of them here. Let’s see if Strapatelier is able to differentiate themselves from their competition!
Strapatelier – the Brand
Strapatelier was founded in 2017 by Kai, who describes himself as a motorsport enthusiast & an avid watch collector. Naturally, his love for watches evolved into a love for watch straps (he loved how different watch straps would give the watch a unique taste and personality), and decided to start his own strap label to offer affordable and well-made straps to the masses. The brand further states that they have taken the extra effort to source their globally from established tanneries globally, with most of their straps made from vegetable-tanned leather that will patina beautifully over time.
Strapatelier – Video Review
For those interested in some hands-on footage of the straps, do check out my Youtube review below!
I’ve never worn a Bund strap before, and thus was very intrigued when Strapatelier sent me my maiden Bund strap.
For the uninitiated, Bund straps first arose in the 1920s, eventually gaining widespread popularity in the 1970s. While the original purpose of the Bund strap was to prevent discolouration of brass watch cases from sweat, Bund straps quickly garnered a following amongst pilots, who found that its thick leather pad protected their wrists from the volatile temperature fluctuations of the cockpit. Today, the Bund strap is often paired with either flieger watches or vintage-inspired chronograph watches.
Strapatelier’s Bund strap is hand-crafted out of vegetable tanned top-grain leather, and thus it will patina beautifully over time. I must say that I’m very impressed with the quality of the leather here, especially considering the price. I have handled Bund straps previously, but those were always in the 3 figure range – due to the additional amount of leather present, Bund straps are often much more expensive than your conventional leather straps. Here, despite the low price point, the Bund strap from Strapatelier felt premium, rustic, with its tidy stitching a testament to its well-crafted nature.
The lining of the Bund strap is comfortable too, with a suede-like texture that feels nice to the touch. Interestingly, the leather is sourced from Hong Kong – don’t think I’ve seen that before.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Bund strap from Strapatelier. I think it’s a terrific value proposition, considering that it is only $43. That’s already a good price for a regular top-grain leather strap, much less a Bund strap. I really enjoy wearing my UNDONE Urban Vintage on the Bund strap – I feel like an explorer (Nathan Drake, anyone?) with it on my wrist. If you’re searching for an affordable Bund strap, this is undoubtedly one of the best options on the market.
Next, let’s take a look at their Crocodile Embossed Leather Strap.
According to Strapatelier, the Crocodile Embossed Leather Strap is crafted with “high-grade quality calf leather” with an oil-waxed finishing to “give off a grandeur look to the watch”. The brand further states that apparently the embossing on each strap is unique, and that the matching stitching has consciously been adopted to present a more homogenous look to the strap. Strapatelier recommends pairing the strap with a classic dress watch, so I paired it with my personal Frederique Constant Manufacture Moonphase.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t really a fan of the strap. The embossing felt a tad cheap, like a poor facsimile of a genuine alligator strap. It has a matte look too – I’m not quite sure where that oil-waxed finishing went. Personally, I preferred the embossed leather strap from Wabi Straps, which looked and felt more premium. In addition, the strap is feels like mere Genuine Leather, as opposed to the top-grain leather found on the other leather straps reviewed in this article.
The lining felt okay – it wasn’t uncomfortable like some of the cardboard-like linings found on cheap straps, but it certainly wasn’t as comfortable as the linings of the other Strapatelier leather straps reviewed in this article.
I would say that the Crocodile Embossed Leather Strap from Strapatelier is an average strap. It’s certainly a tier above the embossed leather straps seen on MVMT/Daniel Wellington/Fossil watches, but there are better options available given its $33 price tag.
However, I’m pleased to report that (spoiler alert) I liked the next leather strap very much.
The Strapatelier Vintage Grunge Leather strap is handcrafted from top-grain Italian calfskin, and thus should patina nicely over time.
The calfskin texture is soft to the touch, reminiscent of suede. Strapatelier states that the texture can be prone to scruff marks, making the Vintage Grunge strap a great companion to vintage watches. Personally, I love the texture of the Vintage Grunge Leather Strap. It has the rustic charm of suede, but also possesses the soft and smooth nature of calfskin. I find the texture to be quite unique, a look that I personally have not encountered before in the local market.
The lining is comfortable on the skin, and comes with quick-release spring bars for added convenience. As I’m someone who regularly switches up the straps on my watches, straps with quick-release spring bars are a godsend. Honestly, all straps should come with quick-release spring bars – they just make the process of swapping out your straps much easier.
I find the Vintage Grunge Leather Strap to be terrific. It’s made from quality Italian top-grain calfskin, has a unique look and texture, comes in a myriad of different colours, and is relatively affordable at only $39. I paired the ‘Moss Green’ variant of the strap on my Seiko Presage “Matcha”, and I think its a match made in heaven.
However, Strapatelier offers more than just leather straps. Let’s take a look at their Nylon Hybrid strap next!
The main body of the Nylon Hybrid strap is made out of nylon canvas, with the leather accents being faux leather. The brand said that this is a deliberate choice, as faux leather (being a synthetic material) is often more resilient to the elements as compared to genuine leather. The strap is also straight-cut, giving it a rugged feel that makes it a perfect companion to field/military watches, such as the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical pictured above.
In terms of quality, the nylon canvas used is actually pretty good! It reminds me of the nylon straps of my old SAF helmet and ILBV, which just further reinforces the military feel of the strap personally. The faux leather accent does a good job at mimicking genuine leather as well – I actually only realised that it wasn’t after checking the product description. This is one well-made strap.
Due to the rougher texture of nylon (as compared to calfskin) the Nylon Hybrid strap isn’t the most comfortable strap on the wrist, though it is still acceptable. The strap does come with quick-release spring bars, which as mentioned earlier is a welcomed feature on any watch strap.
Overall, the Strapatelier Nylon Hybrid strap is well-constructed. However, I wasn’t that enthusiastic about its aesthetics. I’m not a fan of the bulky black leather accents at the top of the straps – I find their placement awkward. I also dislike the fact that the buckle only comes in black as I’m a bit of a stickler for matching the buckle to my case colour. Nevertheless, aesthetics are after all subjective, and at just $25 if you like the look of the strap I would say go for it!
Last but not least, Strapatelier also sent me their signature Curved Lug Silicone strap.
As the name suggests, the Curved Lug Silicone strap is engineered to eliminate unsightly lug gaps, allowing the strap to wrap comfortably around the wearer’s wrist. Although I suspect most will purchase this strap for their Seiko SKX / Samurai / Turtle / Sumo, I paired it with my Advisor Ascent and found the strap to fit just fine.
The silicone used here is superb. It’s soft, pliable, and wears really comfortably on my wrist. As you can see from the picture above, the fit is impeccable as well, without any lug gaps to be seen. It gave the Advisor Ascent a nice sporty edge, and I actually found myself gravitating towards the Advisor Ascent as my exercise watch instead of my usual G-Shock.
After trying out the strap, I can see why Strapatelier calls the Curved Lug Silicone strap their “signature strap”. It’s one of the best silicone straps that I’ve ever tried. At just $29, the strap is wallet-friendly too. It also comes in a wide variety of colours (Black / Grey / Blue / Orange / Green / Red / White) for you to give your dive watch some pizzazz. Highly recommended!
Conclusion – so Strapatelier “shiok” or not?
Ultimately, Strapatelier does a good job at offering quality straps at an affordable price point. In particular, I really enjoyed the Vintage Bund Pilot’s strap, the Vintage Grunge Leather strap, and the Curved Lug Silicone strap. I should also point out that Strapatelier is generous with freebies too – customers get a free microsuede cloth above $30 spend, a free basic spring bar removal tool above $40 spend, and a ‘professional’ spring bar removal tool above $80 spend.
If you’re interested in any of Strapatelier’s offerings, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products store-wide! After the discount, all of the straps reviewed above would be under $40, with some even below $30. If you’re looking to stretch your dollar (especially when it comes to vintage/dive watch straps), then Strapatelier is a great choice.
View Strapatelier’s full range of offerings here.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned.
P.S.S.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.