The Making of a MiLTAT Handmade Leather Watch Strap
November 10, 20207 min read
If you are a watch or styling enthusiast, a handmade leather watch band is the perfectly exclusive and adaptable piece you need to make the watches in your collection stand out. The story of our MiLTAT handmade watch bands is inspired by our taste for uniqueness and our designs are made to complement any great timepiece and fit any mood or outfit.
The time and precision that go into the making of a MiLTAT leather watch strap are our labor of love. We pride ourselves in dedicating all of our time and attention to delivering high-quality watch bands that are perfectly adaptable to your vintage watches, as well as your new timepieces.
In this post, STRAPCODE invites you to uncover the secrets behind making the MiLTAT handmade watch bands. Together, we will go through the entire manufacturing process, detailing each step that goes into creating the watch bands that complement your style.
Watch Band Tools
Using high-accuracy tools is a crucial step in creating a memorable and reliable product. To ensure the quality of the leather watch bands, we use specialized precision tools in every step of the handcrafting process.
Here is a list of the tools that we use in the process of crafting a handmade watch band:
1. Fine skiving knife 2. Softwood burnish stick 3. Hardwood burnish stick 4. Paddled knife strop 5. Needle marker 6. Japanese skiving knife 7. Burnt brown leather dye 8. Mark 00 edge beveler 9. Gray wax thread 10. Beige wax thread 11. Diamond lacing stitching chisel 12. 0.7 mm hole puncher 13. Hammer 14. Sandpaper stick 15. Presser 16. Cutting mat 17. Punch chisel mat
The Handmade Leather Watch Band Crafting Process
STEP 1 - Choosing the Leather
Choosing the right leather is an essential step in creating an exclusive handmade watch band. It affects all the other manufacturing steps and dictates the quality and aspect of your final product.
The quality of the material used in the watch band handcrafting process has a great impact on the end product so the time invested in sourcing the best types of leather is well worth it.
The next step in deciding which leather to use is selecting the right thickness, color, and texture for your watch band model.
STEP 2 – Trimming the Width
Once we choose the right leather for your product, we use a high-quality, finely sharpened skiving knife to cut through the leather and create a strip. The skiving knife is carefully sharpened before each use on a paddled knife strop.
Common watch strap widths range from 18 mm to 24 mm. Depending on the desired width of the watch strap, precision tools are used to measure and cut out a suitable strip of leather. To do this, the distance between the watch lugs is measured and the strip is cut accordingly.
The leather strip needs to be cut in a perfectly straight line. It will be a little wider than the desired end width since it will go through the trimming by pattern phase later on.
STEP 3 – Trimming the Length
For this step, the length of the end watch band will determine how long the leather strip must be cut. The craftsman takes into account the size of the wrist the strap is made for and the desired number of holes.
The leather watch band has a long section and a short section. Watchband lengths vary from 120/70 mm to 145/90 mm. The longer section is the adjustable end and the shorter section is the fixed end.
Once the required length is determined, the MiLTAT craftsman marks the leather strip and cuts it to size according to a pattern. Again, cutting straight is very important. So, great attention to detail is required. If the strip is unevenly cut, the two overlapping layers will not line up when glued together.
STEP 4 – Strap End Thinning
Because the leather strip will be folded, the strap ends and the folding points must be thinned. This is done with the help of the finely sharpened skiving knife.
STEP 5 – Burnishing and Sealing Off the Leather Fiber
Next, the craftsman applies a leather finish to the thinned parts and burnishes the leather strip. For this step, he uses a wood burnish stick. That helps finish the edges of the leather strip properly.
Burnishing helps avoid any fraying and seals off the leather fiber to protect it and make it more durable. It also helps add a nice, smooth finish to the leather watch strap edges.
STEP 6 – Skiving Both Ends
To add a smooth end finish to the leather watch band when it is folded, both ends of the leather strip are skived with the skiving knife.
STEP 7 – Applying the Glue
This step is very important for the durability of the leather watch strap. When applying the glue, the craftsman needs to act with a lot of precision and care.
First of all, glue is applied to each folding section of the leather band and then spread carefully and all the way to the edges. This helps avoid the edges splitting apart or any glue spilling over the leather strip. Our MiLTAT craftsmen use only the best types of cement glue to fasten the leather sides in place and ensure the strap’s durability.
STEP 8 – Clamping
Once the glue is applied properly on all the sides of the leather strip, clamps are used for keeping the leather strip in place and helping the glue set and dry. A metal spindle is used to keep the leather strip from folding where the spring bars will be fitted when the watch band is finished.
STEP 9 – Preparing the back leather
The leather chosen for the back part of the watch strap is also very important. It needs to be durable because it will be subjected to long-term friction and it needs to match the front leather of the watch strap.
For this step, the MiLTAT craftsman skives the ends of the back leather to prepare them to be glued to the front leather.
STEP 10 – Applying the Glue to the Back Leather
Next, glue is carefully applied by the craftsman all over the surface of the back leather. He also applies glue to the front leather strap. Again, special attention is required for the gluing process. The entire surface needs to be covered and no excess glue must spill over the edges of the leather strap.
STEP 11 – Attaching the Paper Pattern
After the two leather sides are glued together, the MiLTAT craftsman secures a paper pattern to the leather watch strap.
STEP 12 - Punching the Sewing Holes
The paper pattern helps guide the craftsman when punching the sewing holes in the leather watch strap. For this step, he uses a diamond lacing stitching chisel and a rubber hammer on a punch chisel mat.
STEP 13 – Trimming the Watch Strap According to the Pattern
The width of the leather watch strap is trimmed according to the sizing of the pattern using a sharp cutter.
STEP 14 – Beveling Both Edges of the Leather Watch Strap
To round out the finish on the watch strap edges, the MiLTAT craftsman uses a sharp edge bevel and a sandpaper file. This step helps prevent the edges from folding over and smooths out the edges of the watch strap.
STEP 15 - Seal The Gap Edges Against Dye Infiltration
To avoid any infiltration of the dye during the next stage of the leather watch strap making process, the edges of the strap are sealed off.
STEP 16 – Dying the Edge
In this stage, a special burnt brown leather dye that matches the color of the leather watch band is used. It covers any discolorations produced by the beveling process. The craftsman patiently applies the dye on the entire surface of the edges and ensures that the color is uniform.
STEP 17 – Sealing
An edge burnisher is used for this step of the leather watch strap crafting process. The friction melts the fibers on the leather edges together to avoid any fraying. This stage of the process takes a lot of patience and a steady hand for the best results.
STEP 18 – Dye Again
The special leather dye is applied once more after the edges are sealed. This ensures that the dye is evenly applied and the color is consistent throughout.
STEP 19 – Sealing Off Edge Fiber
After re-applying the dye, the MiLTAT craftsman uses the burnisher again until the edges are smoothed out perfectly.
STEP 20 – Checking
To ensure a flawless finish, the craftsman will then check all the corners and sides of the leather watch strap again until everything is just perfect.
STEP 21 – Saddle Stitching
The next important step in the leather watch strap crafting process is saddle stitching. Saddle stitching helps avoid the entire line of stitching coming undone by locking it in at every stitch.
Using only high-quality wax threads, the MiLTAT craftsman sews the leather by hand using this very traditional and reliable technique.
STEP 22 – Finishing the Stitching
Once the saddle stitching is complete, the evenness of the threads is checked and any necessary adjustments are made until the perfect finish is obtained.
STEP 23 – Installing the Clasp
For this final process, two metal spring bars are inserted into the ends of the watch band. Finally, the clasp is installed by securing in place with the spring bars.
The leather watch strap crafting process is now finalized and the handmade leather watch band is ready to meet its new owner.