Being such a versatile material, all kinds of leather can be used for making watch straps.
Whether it’s Strength, flexibility, aesthetically pleasing or you simply want to have fun changing the look of your watch with an exotic looking strap, there’s a variety of options when choosing leather.
Here are the most popular kinds of leather including budget and high end you may want to consider. Starting off with the strongest of all…
Kangaroo is suitable for a wide range of products due to it’s light weight and superior strength. In fact it is around 10 times the strength of cow hide.
Have you ever heard a cowboy crack his whip? In Australia, multi strand bull whips are made from Kangaroo leather because of their strength and light weight compared to other leathers of the same size. Kangaroo is also used for motorcycle leather because of it’s abrasive resistance.
Watch straps made form Kangaroo tend to have a small cracked type of grain and can be vegetable dyed to any colour of your choice. Because Kangaroo retains it’s strength even when thinly cut, it is often braided (see pic below).
The largest living marsupial is protected in Australia. The meat and leather products are obtained from the wild under strict government management plans. Kangaroo leather is also exported to many Countries for use in a range of products including boots, seats, watch straps and other fashion accessories.
Interesting Fact: More than 34 million Kangaroo’s populate the commercial harvest area of Australia. With only 25 million people in Australia this means their are more Kangaroo’s than people in the land down under.
Cow and Calf Leather
Probably the cheapest and most common leather used for watch straps. Top grain often referred to as ‘full grain’ leather is derived from using the top side of the hide. With it’s natural appearance and texture, top grain can be expensive depending on the quality, defect free and unique appearance.
When a watch strap is marked as ‘Genuine Leather’ it is usually made up of cow hide inner and the outer being calf leather as it has a softer feel on the wrist than cow hide.
Calf leather apart from being soft has a tighter grain which tends to hold together better than cow skin and therefore is more durable.
Suede is made by buffing the top layer of cowhide.
Tanning the leather transforms its organic state into inorganic and rids the leather of bacteria, changes its colour and also has the ability to hide defects.
Cow and calf leather can be easily molded into patterns to mimic Alligator, Crocodile, Bamboo, lizard and more.
Known as an exotic leather that can be used for a wide variety of luxury products including high end watch straps.
The majority of leather is sourced from two Countries, China and the United States. Trade in America is regulated and consists of farming and wild caught specimens.
The belly of the Alligator forms the inner part of the watch strap. The outer being ‘Hornback’ and Umbilical scars in the form of a webbed pattern with rectangular tiles which differs from Crocodile as croc leather is less uniform.
Similar in appearance to alligator but with some noticeable differences. Crocodile leather has small pits in the skin and a pattern that is less uniform than alligator.
Croc is not as soft as Gator, it also feels dryer and stiffer on the wrist.
Leather watch straps can come in many different patterns and are mostly ‘off cuts’ left over from larger products like handbags and boots.
Being a more aggressive animal than alligator, the leather tends to be suspect to grazes but these can be masked by tanning.
Price can vary depending on species but generally speaking Crocodile is less expensive than Alligator.
The Australian salt water crocodile and the ‘Nile’ crocodile from Africa are where the majority of crocodile leather is sourced for use in exotic watch straps.
Sourced from Africa, Ostrich leather has a unique pattern of darker coloured bumps known as ‘vacant quill follicles’.
Becoming popular among high end watch enthusiasts for it’s exotic look and feel.
Ostrich leather is known as a luxury leather and can be pricey compared to traditional leathers.
Lizard leather makes an attractive and durable choice for a watch strap.
The majority of Lizard leather comes from Iguana and Java lizard also known as ‘ringtail’ because of it’s ring pattern found in rows across the body.
With it’s smooth texture, leather from the underside or the ‘belly’ of the lizard is used because of it’s consistent pattern.
Genuine Lizard tends to be slightly cheaper than Alligator and Crocodile leather when used as a watch strap.
The hide of a snakeskin can be used as a watch strap. Regarded as an exotic leather, it is also used to make handbags, wallets and other fashion items.
If you have ever seen a pair of white or light coloured cowboy boots then you have seen snakeskin leather.
Leather is sourced mainly from Pythons because of the various patterns available.
Because Snakeskin is very thin, watch straps that are hand made start out as a cowhide base with the snakeskin being glued and sewn onto the base leather to form the end product.
Snakeskin straps are comparable in price to Alligator.
Stingray leather is sourced from South East Asia, Australia and South America.
Known for it’s unique pearl pattern in the form of a black to grey background with pearl type raised bumps.
Polishing the leather is possible and the skin can also be dyed in any Pantone colour of your choice.
Stingray leather has been traditionally used for the handle of Samurai swords but can also make a fantastic looking watch strap.
The price of Stingray when used for straps is similar to good quality Alligator leather..
Many other types of high end and exotic leathers can be used for watch bands including pig, goat, camel, Emu, Deer, Bison, Buffalo and Shark.