Photo by Technewatches
There are men, however, who know true luxury, who appreciate the art of a well-crafted watch, who wear timepieces with pride and enjoyment of the delicate task demanded of assembling tiny wheels and gears in a small, thin shell to be worn on the wrist.
And there are those who would like to be these men.
The rules of etiquette for wearing timepieces have not really changed, despite society’s movement towards the casual: bulky, sporty watches are meant for just that—sports activities, whereas simple, elegant timepieces with blank or nearly-blank faces are meant for formal affairs; all other watches fit somewhere in-between. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright famously said: “Form follows function”—which holds true for watch-wearing as much as for structures.
Leather bands tend to be more dressy, blending in easily with the color of one’s attire or with one’s skin coloring; glinting, highly-durable metal bands draw attention to themselves, so are best in semi-formal to casual settings; meanwhile, comfortable, waterproof, and disposable bands made of fabric, rubber or other inexpensive materials are best left to very casual affairs.
When choosing a leather watchband to wear to the office or out to dinner, consider how and when you’ll be wearing it – the environments, the styles of clothes and their colors, even the shades of your shoes and belts. An easy and general rule is to match the color of your watchband with the color of your belt and shoes, but style sometimes dictates breaking such rules. Buying several colors and styles of watchbands is not unusual to be able to match them to what you’re wearing. It is fairly easy to change a watchband if you invest in the correct tool, and switching bands will allow the leathers to rest when not being worn.
Remember also to consider function in choosing the thickness of your strap. Timepieces are elegant only when unnoticed; in formal settings, the piece is there because one must eventually know the time, but it is hardly something to be given much attention. Bulky faces and big leather bracelets give the effect of being bound or chained to time, when worn with a suit—hardly the look or lifestyle most men want. But bulky watches are easier to read and are usually made to withstand the elements; and large leather bracelets are more comfortable and sturdy, so wear them with these functions in mind.
In an age when so much of our lives is dictated by whim rather than reason, it may not occur to us that even the choice of something so simple as the type of leather holding our watch to our wrist may have a particular and additional function—until, perhaps, the leather stains unattractively from perspiration or breaks from water and heat damage.
Craftsmen such as those at Hirsch, a German company that has been producing quality watch bracelets since the mid-1700s, understand that quality timepieces are guarded best by well-made bracelets that are comfortable, reliable, and attractive, using a variety of animal leathers for different styles and functions.
Consider stingray leather bands, sold in several shades, which have exceptional heat and water resistance and a stylishly tight grain—a definite plus for gentlemen who regularly come into contact with water or high heat sources. Expect to pay more, however, for this unique and very durable band.
Alligator and crocodile leathers are the traditional choice for water-resistant leather bands, are available in an array of colors, and can be found at relatively moderate prices for their durability—generally between $100 and $150.
Ostrich leather is also commonly found on watch straps, chosen for its softness, flexibility and durability in sunlight and heat. The dotted markings on these straps make them quite unique; prices range upwards of $100.
Traditional cowhide and calfskin leathers are also available in various shades, styles, patterns and textures; it is easy to find them for as little as $20 and as much as $200 – depending on the tanning processes used, the quality of the skins, and the craftsmanship.
The elegance of being is all in the details, in where you spend your time and money, and why. Perhaps this is why timepieces are so treasured by those who still wear them: there is an implicit knowledge that craftsmanship stands the test of time, of which well-made timepieces – and their straps – can be lasting reminders.