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Your Passport to Leather Straps: Materials, Cares and Strapping Watches In Style

Comprehensive Handbook by Strapcode for Total Understanding of Leather Made Watch Bands
  1. Raw Leather Materials
  2. Common Leather Grains and Textures
  3. Leather Finishes
  4. Inner Lining of a Fine Leather Strap
  5. The Best Leather Tanneries You Should Know
  6. How to Best Match a Watch with a Leather Watch Band
  7. How to Clean and Care for Your Leather Watch Strap


Do you know that your personal style speaks volumes about your individuality? Do you know that a mere glimpse at your wrist can make a bold statement? It is actually the small details that often carry the most significant weight in our appearance. One of these small accessories that could be a big difference is your choice of your wristwatch bands/straps. Here, we discuss quality leathers as a classic choice, as it has stood the test of time. Combining durability, sophistication and versatility, quality leather watch straps can make any watch look better, enhance your personal taste, and complete your outfit without any mistake.

Choosing the perfect leather watch strap becomes the task, as you need to select the right style and design that effortlessly matches your personality, complements your outfit, and expresses your taste. Therefore, it is important that you understand everything leather, even as we praise the choice of having a leather-made watch strap in your watch accessories collection.


Raw Leather Materials

A animal hide in its unique shape was preserved with care  by Strapcode

A animal hide was laid out on a trunk, its unique shape was preserved with care.



Due to its exceptional durability and cost-effectiveness, cowhide is a highly sought-after material, and the major supply of the leather industry, than other animal hides. Its toughness makes it the best for making long-lasting leather goods that can endure rough use without showing significant wear or tear. Moreover, it can be used to create unique texture, patterns or embossing to imitate the appearance of other animal hides. This allows for a wide range of options to choose from.


Exotic Leather

Alligator hides made leather watch straps by Strapcode

Through the gentle art of tanning, an array of prized alligator hides laid out in beautiful abundance, nature's rarest designs presented.

Exotic leathers are sourced from animals, mostly reptiles, and other rare animal species. Some of these animals are: Alligator, Ostrich, Python, Stingray, and others. Specific parts of animals that are usually not processed into leather when it comes to these exotic skins will also be made into leather, such as the horn back scales of alligators. This makes for a unique pattern and texture different from regular cowhide leather, thereby increasing its charm and appeal.

Genuine alligator leather watch strap demo with Speedmaster Professional Moonphase by Strapcode

This Black alligator watch strap upgrades the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase 3576.50.00 with luxurious flair. Nature's rare scaled pattern elevates sophisticated timekeeping.

Alligator watch strap pair with IWC Big Pilot 7-day power reserve by Strapcode

The rare hornback texture of this black Italian alligator strap perfect complements the IWC Big Pilot. Its premium materials unite with the prestigious 7-day power reserve. A refined pairing of nature's unique design with Swiss engineering prowess.

However, the production of these exotic leathers raises ethical and conservation concerns. Some of these animal species are protected by international agreements, such as the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which might restrict their commercial use. Therefore, adherence to these rules and regulations are important when dealing with exotic leather to ensure the preservation of the animal species used.


Man-made Leather (Eco-friendly Faux Leather)

In response to the growing environmental awareness and the desire for sustainable alternatives, there is the man-made leather, also known as synthetic, vegan or artificial leather, as an option. It is more readily available than animal leather, as it is made from non-animal materials like plastic and other synthetic polymers. It is a popular choice for mass-produced products, majorly because of its affordability, but it is usually less durable. And especially when not well-made, it does not last long at all.


Common Leather Grains and Textures

Common leather grains and leather textures - Smooth Leather,  Grainy Leather,  Flat Grain Leather,  Pebble Grain Leather,  Embossed Leather,  Nubuck Suede by Strapcode

This sampling of common leather grains and textures showcases nature's variations, from the subtly smooth finish to the pronounced pebbled surface.

  • Smooth Leather is characterized by its completely even and flat surface, with no visible texture or grain marks. This gives this leather a kind of sleek and polished appearance. It is most commonly found in types of leather as Oil Tan, Veg Tan, or Patent Leather.
Beige tapered smooth leather watch strap demo with Seiko Prospex SPB103J1 Green Sumo by Strapcode

This smooth beige tapered leather watch band is a natural match for the Seiko Prospex SPB103J1 Green Sumo. Its forest green stitching and Zermatt lining complement the timepiece's outdoorsy vibes. A finely crafted companion that enhances both watch and wearer with its subtly textured material.

Smooth braided calf leather watch strap pairs with Garmin EPIX Gen 2 by Strapcode

The smooth braided calf leather watch strap in beige perfectly pairs with the Garmin EPIX Gen 2. Its refined weave and stitching balance aesthetics with comfort on the wrist, mirroring the smartwatch's sophisticated design. Vintage materials meet innovation with elegant results.

  • Pebble Grain Leather boasts a very bold and tight grain pattern, resembling the pebbles on a beach, hence the name. The grains come in various sizes, ranging from small to large pebbles, giving the leather a unique and textured look. This grain also has a distinct feel to it.
Pebble grain leather watch strap match with TAG Heuer Monaco chronograph by Strapcode

This pebble grain leather strap adds tactile texture as a perfect match for the TAG Heuer Monaco chronograph. Its prominent bumps and valleys evoke racing tracks, lending rugged sophistication through vibrant leather detailing that reflects the timepiece's heritage.

  • Flat Grain Leather displays a visible grain pattern but feels smooth to the touch. This is interesting, as it maintains a smooth texture with a subtle visual interest. A number of our collection leather watch straps feature this grain.
Flat grain leather watch strap demo with Seiko 5 Sports by Strapcode

The flat grain leather strap adds richness to the Seiko 5 Sports with its tactile honey-toned surface. Its subtle pebbled grain offers both refinement and robustness, forming a sophisticated pairing that mirrors the watch's balanced character through refined-yet-rugged textured leather.

  • Grainy Leather showcases a visible grain that can be felt when running your hand over its surface. Hides from animals like bison often have a very distinct grainy texture.
  • Embossed Leather refers to hides that have had a texture applied to them using heat and pressure. This process can be used to create various man-made patterns, such as basket weaves or the iconic Saffiano crosshatch. Additionally, embossed leather can be used to make cowhides look like more exotic materials like Crocodile or Ostrich.
Croco grain Italian leather watch strap pairs Panerai PAM 1020 Luminor 1950 Chronograph Flyback PCYC by Strapcode

The croco grain Italian leather strap adds richness to the Panerai PAM 1020 Luminor 1950 Chronograph Flyback PCYC. Its finely stamped dark brown hide brings continental sophistication through tactile texture, the sun-glistened scales accentuated by beige stitching. A refined ruggedness pairing bespoke craft and chronometric finesse.

deep embossed crocodile leather watch strap demo on Garmin EPIX Gen 2 by Strapcode

The deep embossed crocodile leather strap adds character to the Garmin EPIX Gen 2 with its cracked, weathered detailing. Middle brown hide stamped with a vintage-inspired croco motif offers tactile terrain mapping.

  • Nubuck and Suede are two popular leather textures that can be easily be mistaken for one another due to their soft and fuzzy finishes. Nubuck is the top grain of the hide that has been sanded down to achieve a soft, suede-like feel. While some nubuck may still retain a visible grain, the overall texture is velvety and plush. Suede, on the other hand, is the underside of the hide, with the top grain leather split away. This process creates a very soft and fuzzy nap on both sides of the leather.
Matte black nubuck leather watch strap pairs vintage Seiko 6306 diver by Strapcode

Matte black nubuck leather watch strap enhances vintage Seiko 6306 diver. Its subtly pebbled nubuck texture, made from sanded top layer of hide, evokes worn-in character. Beige stitching is a natural balanced partner.

Greyish green nubuck leather watch strap matched with vintage Seiko Japan 150m Diver 6306-7001 by Strapcode

Greyish green nubuck leather watch strap adds flair for vintage Seiko Japan 150m Diver 6306-7001. Its textured nubuck grain, with slight fuzz and bumps, pairs function for refined looks. Durable hide imbues retro aesthetics.

Due to their delicate finish, both Suede and Nubuck require specialized care to maintain their softness and appearance. Our articles about Suede Leather Straps and Nubuck Leather Strap will be interesting information for you to check out.

Grey suede leather watch strap demo on Orient Neo 70s Chronograph by Strapcode

Grey suede leather strap lends contrast to Orient Neo 70s Chronograph WV0041TX. Its buttery soft aniline suede grain, with fine hair fibers raised, complements the crisp dial. Retro aesthetic echoed in textured distressed leather finish.

Khaki suede leather watch strap suits Seiko Zimbe Mini Turtle SRPD19 by Strapcode

Khaki suede leather strap suits Seiko Zimbe Mini Turtle SRPD19. Its feature suede leather with a soft and velvety texture, marries precision with rugged character. Varied textured terrain enhances durability.


Leather Finishes

You shouldn’t just know about leather materials, grains and textures alone, what about the finish? Let’s go!

  • Matte Finish has a non-reflective and non-shiny appearance, with a flat and smooth surface.
Matte black calfskin matched with Seiko Presage SSA345 by Strapcode

Matte black calfskin lends stealth to Seiko Presage SSA345. Subtly stamped full grain leather paired with function for daily wear. Textural nuance and reserved styling impart refined matching.

Brown matte leather watch strap demo on Citizen Promaster NY0083 by Strapcode

Brown matte leather strap imparts utility for Citizen Promaster NY0083 diver. Its full grain leather balanced grain aligns timing with versatile pulled grain texture. The textured surface marrying toolwatch finesse.

  • Satin Finish is a step above matte, featuring a very slight sheen or luster. It strikes a balance between matte and shiny.
  • Shiny Finish has a noticeable gleam and reflective quality. It makes leather products visually appealing and elegant.
  • Glossy Finish takes shine to a whole new level, boasting of a high-gloss surface with a noticeable glare that reflects light. Leather products with this finish demand attention and are perfect for making bold fashion statement.
  • Printed Pattern Finish leather can be printed with various patterns and designs. This allows for unique customization and styling beyond plain leather textures and grains. Popular printed patterns include floral, geometric, animal prints, as rare as camouflage and more. The prints are durable and don't fade easily like printed fabrics.
Camo forest printed leather watch strap pairs Bulova Accuquartz vintage watch by Strapcode

The Italian handcrafted Camo forest printed leather watch strap adds dynamism to the Bulova Accuquartz vintage watch. Embossed leather grain pairs purpose with vintage styling in durable artistic fine texture.

laser-engraved pattern Italian handcrafted leather watch strap demo on Seiko Spirit SBTR021 chronograph by Strapcode

The leather strap pairs on the Seiko Spirit SBTR021 chronograph, handcrafted in Italy, features a textured and embossed leather terrain that imparts character through a durable craftsmanship. The strap's laser-engraved pattern detail adds a sense of heritage to the overall design of the watch.

Special Finished Leather such as the less common distressed leather and the rare handcrafted artistic heavy scratches leather lend themselves to a one-of-a-kind appearance. In the leather world, not only are there smooth leathers - special finished leathers set themselves apart. The handcrafted artistic heavy scratches involve makers carefully and uniquely etching elaborate patterns into the leather surface using tools, so no two pieces are ever exactly alike.

Olive distressed leather watch strap matched with Seiko 5 SRPE58K1 by Strapcode

Olive distressed leather strap conveys pedigree for Seiko 5 SRPE58K1. Softly full grain leather hide accentuates toughness in distressed vintage look. Weathered texture accentuates the simplicity of the character.

Scratched Italian leather leather by Strapcode

Heavily textured and scratched Italian leather leather imparts bespoke individuality. Hand distressing conveys no two alike character in individual top grain leather artwork.


Hidden Qualities from the Inner Lining of a Fine Leather Strap

When crafting a fine leather watch strap, equal consideration must be given to both the outer leather finish and inner lining material. The lining plays a crucial supporting role, as it is what combines with and lays beneath the top leather layer. In order to create a strap that will provide the utmost in quality, comfort and longevity of wear, the chosen lining leather is just as significant as the outer leather itself. Discerning consumers understand the straps of top luxury brands are distinguished not only by the visible outer leather, but by the superior lining leathers seamlessly bonded within.

Three of the finest leather materials revered for use as watch strap linings include Zermatt, French Barenia and fish oil tanned Italian calf.

  • Zermatt leather from Switzerland has an extremely fine grain, delivering an unrivaled handfeel. Renowned leather goods maker Hermès commonly uses Zermatt in their handbags, watch straps, and other leather accessories. Zermatt's texture contributes to its desirable qualities.
Zermatt leather used in Hermes by Strapcode

Zermatt leather enhances any timepiece with its extremely fine grain and unrivaled handfeel. Renowned for use in luxury goods such as Hermes, its supple clean-pulled texture contributes desirable qualities.

  • French Barenia leather also makes an excellent material choice. Hermès favors Barenia for its softness and ability to acquire a beautiful patina with age. They frequently employ Barenia, sourced from goat or calf, across a wide range of their leather goods such as handbags, watch straps, and other accessories. Derived from goat or calf, Barenia molds comfortably over time to enhance any leather product.
Luxurious French Barenia leather by Strapcode

This luxurious French Barenia leather, with its soft and fine pebbled grain sourced from goat or calf, is designed to acquire a beautiful patina as it ages. Ideal for watch straps and other goods, it comfortably molds over time, enhancing any leather product. Pairing it with the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Compressor Extreme World Chronograph Q1768470 would lend an air of refinement and grace to this exceptional timepiece.

  • For breathability and long-lasting suppleness, Italian calf leather tanned using a vegetable process with fish oil rather than chromium allows the material to breathe easily. This keeps the leather conditioned as a lining for years of contact with the skin.

Each of these leathers embodies key qualities required of a fine lining material. Their inherent softness, durability and breathability result in straps that complement luxury timepiece designs through balanced excellence in construction. Discerning consumers seek out straps featuring one of these elite leathers within.


The Best Leather Tanneries You Should Know

We introduce three of the world's premier leather tanneries, known for crafting top-quality leathers through time-honored techniques. Each tannery boasts a legacy of excellence, showcasing their expertise in transforming raw hides into exquisite leathers.


USA Horween Leather

USA Horween leather company by Strapcode

American Horween leather is an ideal choice for watch straps and other leather goods, as its tight full grain showcases exceptional craftsmanship and longevity, ensuring both style and durability in the finished products.

Horween Shell Cordovan Horsehide leather watch strap add an elegant touch to the Breitling Avenger Hurricane 12H by Strapcode

Horween Bourbon Shell Cordovan, the horsehide leather from the USA, known for its luxurious and durable qualities, is an ideal choice to pair with any watch. Its smooth surface, dense texture, and distinctive appearance add an elegant touch to the Breitling Avenger Hurricane 12H.

Vintage brown Horween Chromexcel leather demo on Panerai PAM 1020 Luminor 1950 by Strapcode

Vintage brown Horween Chromexcel leather enhances Panerai PAM 1020 Luminor 1950 chronograph. Full grain top calf leather from Chicago marries function and form, imparting heritage character through naturally distressed aged grain.

Horween is a renowned tannery known for producing top-quality leathers; including vegetable tanned leather and other luxury and high-tech leather supplies. Founded in 1905, and based in Chicago, USA, Horween has a long-standing tradition of employing craftsmen that produces their genuine leathers such as Shell Cordovan leather by hand. Our Horween Leather Watch Straps are indeed a sight to behold, and an accessory to include in your collections!


Badalassi Carlo Premium Leather

Badalassi Carlo premium leather by Strapcode

Badalassi Carlo premium leather exhibits fine Italian craftsmanship. Distinctive leather has supple hand feel with subtle pulled grain lending luxury and premium quality.

Badalassi Carlo Tannery is situated in Tuscany, Italy, in the city of San Miniato. It boasts of over 40 years of experience specializing in the production of vegetable-tanned leather, which are highly-prized in the leathercraft and luxury goods industries.


Shinki Hikaku Horsehide Leather

Shinki Hikaku horsehide leather jacket by Strapcode

Shinki Hikaku horsehide leather is renowned for its use in jackets, conveying rugged sophistication. Distinctive full grain from Japan has naturally irregular waves and bumps whose character is enhanced over time.

Shinki Hikaku is located in Himeji, Japan. It is a family-run business that was established in 1951. The tannery has gained a reputation for producing premium leathers solely based on horsehide, and has collaborated with renowned brands like Viberg, Real McCoys, Freewheelers, and Himel Bros.


How to Best Match a Watch with a Leather Watch Band

  • Measure and Match: First, measure the lug size and the thickness of your watch to find the proper size leather watch band. Consider the softness, durability, and water repellent properties of the leather based on your needs and preferences.
Proper lug measurement ensures correct watch strap fit for your watch by Strapcode

First, proper lug measurement ensures correct watch strap fit for your watch. The dimension is key to finding a strap that securely complements the case through a precise matched size and refined aesthetic.

Source the right leather watch strap width by Strapcode

Second, knowing the lug size of your watch, allows sourcing the right leather watch strap width for comfortable wear. Careful selection enhances both the timepiece design and the wearer experience through a tailored leather match.

  • Coordinate Colors: Look for colors in your watch dial, hands, markers, and bezel (e.g., the red/blue Pepsi bezel), and pick a leather strap with similar or complementary color tones. Matching the stitching color can also be a recommendable option.
  • Outfit considerations: For a low-profile outfit, opt for black or brown leather straps with added texture like embossed animal grains, or added details like pilot rivet pins. Without being too flashy, these elements can complement your taste, personality and interest. Also, be sure to consider the season (summer or winter) and latest trends to match your outfit accordingly.
black pilot-style leather watch strap pairs IWC Big Pilot Chronograph TOP GUN Boutique Edition IW388003 by Strapcode

This black pilot-style leather strap is well-suited to the IWC Big Pilot Chronograph TOP GUN Boutique Edition IW388003. The textured leather grain and rivet pins accentuate the watch's aviator heritage aesthetic. The versatile styling pairs the distinctive timepiece with both casual and dressed-down looks inspired by aviation.

  • Occasion Matters: Choose leather watch bands based on the occasion, whether casual, smart casual, or formal/dressy events. For example, an Alligator Watch Strap with fine finishes will be perfect for formal occasions.
  • Consider Personal Style: When it comes to personal style, leather watch bands handmade by skilled craftsmen are a cut above the rest. Whether you prefer the elegance of French leather watch bands, the vintage appeal of the famous "Gunny Strap," or a more daring and unconventional look, there are options aplenty that can cater to your unique preferences. To showcase your personal style, always opt for the finest handmade leather watch bands made from quality materials.
  • Bund Pad: Choose leather watch bands with a Bunds pad to protect your wrist from direct contact with the watch body. A Bund pad is a cushioning pad found on leather watch bands that provides protection and comfort by creating a barrier between the watch body and the wearer's wrist. It helps to minimize direct contact and can be beneficial for those with sensitive skin or who find metal watch cases uncomfortable.
A leather Bund pad is a cushioning feature on leather watch bands that is ideal for individuals with sensitive skin by Strapcode

A Bund pad is a cushioning feature on leather watch bands that is ideal for individuals with sensitive skin, as it provides a protective barrier between the watch body and the skin, minimizing direct contact.

  • Proper Buckle Selection: Choose pin buckles or deployant buckles that match the metal color such as silver or gold tones, and finishes of your watch. A poor selection of cheap buckle will destroy your total look, therefore, avoid cheap buckles.
  • Quality Matters: You get what you pay for - It's not worth your time to search for the cheapest leather watch band by only comparing prices. Instead, go straight to a reliable supplier for your leather watch band needs and allocate your time to something more important. Always opt for leather watch bands crafted from premium materials sourced from reputable suppliers or senior craftsmen. This is the smart way to ensure longevity, dependability, and a beautiful presentation for your timepiece.


How to Clean and Care for Your Leather Watch Strap

Not only should you know how to best match your watch with leather watch band, you should know how to clean and care for this watch band. It is important to know how to care for your leather watch band to maintain its appearance.

  • Regular cleaning: Gently wipe your leather strap with soft, damp cloth regularly to remove dirt, and sweat.
  • Drying: Leather and water are not the best companions. Avoid exposing your leather watch band to excessive moisture. You should also consider removing it before engaging in any water-related activities. In any case, it becomes damp, allow it to dry naturally. Do not use direct heat sources like hairdryers or heaters on your leather band, so that they don’t crack or lose their suppleness.
  • Avoid excessive stretching: Leather has a natural ability to stretch over time, but avoid pulling or stretching the strap excessively, as it may cause wear and deformation.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures: Extreme heat or cold can damage leather, so try to avoid leaving your watch in direct sunlight or in extremely cold conditions.
  • Conditioning: To keep the leather soft and moisturized, consider using a high-quality leather conditioner or cream designed specifically for watch straps. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and effective application.
  • Change Straps: Another way of caring for your leather watch band is by owning multiple of them, so that you can rotate them regularly. This practice allows each strap to rest and reduces excessive wear on a single band.
  • Store with care: When not in use, store your leather watch bands in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures and high humidity. Prolonged exposure to humidity can deteriorate leather over time. The moisture in humid environments may cause the material to wrinkle, change color or even develop molds. Maintaining ideal storage conditions with moderate humidity helps preserve the quality of the strap for longer.

With the right care, you are sure to enjoy the best of your leather watch band.


How to Change a Watch Strap | Watch Band Tutorial by strapcode


Written by Victor and Vienna.C , images by Toni and others as noted


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