Who doesn’t love a good leather strap? In recent years, the number of smaller or larger artisanal manufactures of straps has grown massively, catering to scores of styles and tastes. “Ruggedness” springs to mind when you think of Finland, at least for me.
Therefore, I was excited to check out FinWatchStraps, a manufacturer from Helsinki.
Waterproof sailcloth strap
I really wanted to pair my Longines Spirit 40mm with a sailcloth strap. As soon as the Spirit was released, I saw plenty of suggestions for strap combinations online, and I must admit that I really liked those with sporty sailcloth straps.
This particular strap from FinWatchStraps is a rubberized waterproof sailcloth with a bolstered center, which reminds me a bit of the rubber straps of the 2nd generation of the Omega Planet Ocean. I think it would work well with a bulky diver like the Breitling Superocean, Longines HydroConquest or Omega Planet Ocean. However, it also looks great with the Spirit. It gives it a modern, sporty accent.
A word of caution – the strap is stiff at first. Very stiff. Before you install it on your watch, you might want to – as I did – roll each part up tightly several times, or roll it up, tie it with something (a rubber band will do) and leave it overnight. The surface and the core need some mechanical tension to break it in.
After it was broken in, however, it became really comfortable to wear. Both the top and underside of the strap have the same texture. Because it’s rubberized, I’d describe it as something between a canvas and a fine „waffle” tropic texture. One thing I immediately noticed: it keeps the watch in one place on the wrist without having to buckle it too tight.
The free-floating keeper also stays in one place rather than flying up the strap. A loose, free-floating keeper would really mess with my OCD.
Most importantly, though, do I enjoy wearing the Spirit on this one? You betcha. It’s safe to say that my NATO strap stock will be on sabbatical for a while.
”Crazy Cow” leather straps
For the review, I received two roughout leather straps. I had one roughout leather strap before, but these two outshine it in terms of suppleness. In fact, they beat any leather strap I had so far. You don’t have to wait until the strap “breaks in” to your wrist with these. They’re just crazy soft.
The first one is yer token two-stitch strap, with a distressed-style finishing. The top surface finishing is excellent. It was intended to be paired with my Glycine Airman No.1, however…there was a slight problem.
The leather’s thick, yet – as I’ve said – crazy supple. However, the thick leather makes it difficult to pair certain watches with the strap. While the Airman has relatively long lugs for its 36mm diameter, the spring bar holes are drilled quite close to the case to avoid a gap between strap and case. That’s fine, unless you choose a strap made from thick leather. It just goes to show that you can have a great watch and a fantastic strap, but sometimes they just don’t mix.
Does that mean it’s a bad strap? No way, not at all. In fact, there are many watches that really need a thick strap to reduce the huge gap between the strap and the case. The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical, for example. Or the Longines Legend Diver. Or an IWC from the Pilot collection.
I’ve heard that the Khaki Field Mechanical can look really weird with two-piece straps that are thinner. I can easily see how this strap might just be what you’re looking for if you have one of these and need something to remedy the issue in your watch.
The second strap is from FinWatchStraps’ Pilot collection. The inspiration for its shape is quite clear – the stock straps that IWC puts on their Pilot models.
As opposed to the standard tapered strap, this one does not have painted sides, which I chose in the first strap. In my opinion, the full roughout appearance looks better in person. It has a certain…charm. Moreover, it was softer on the edges, which made it more comfortable to wear.
It’s thinner by the spring bars than the other strap, meaning it does fit the Airman, but by a hair. Despite that, the Airman and that strap work well together.
All in all…
FinWatchStraps has some really promising straps. I’d recommend a few changes, though. The sailcloth would benefit from a softer core. It also would be better if the leather ones were a little thinner by the spring bars, so they’d fit a wider range of lugs.
As I’ve said, these straps are probably ideal for tool watches with long lugs, such as the Legend Diver, Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical, Stowa Flieger or IWC Pilot, where a thinner strap might look a bit silly. It’s likely that they’d fit the 40mm and 42mm Longines Spirit as well.
Aside from that slight issue with getting the watch-strap pairing right, these straps are great. FinWatchStraps’ leather quality is absolutely brilliant. The “distressed” top surface finishing is the best I’ve ever seen. As far as I’m concerned, FinWatchStraps’ leather simply easily dethrones Graf Derby straps as the king of supple straps. It’s just so good.
Crazy Cow straps start at 71.99 euros, which is a fair price for a highly customizable strap made in beautifully finished and unbelievably comfortable leather. If you want quick release spring bars or any other additional feature, you’ll have to pay extra. However, if you like to change straps often, I’d say the quick release system is definitely a good choice.
The standard version of the pilot strap without rivets costs approx. 84 euros and the riveted version costs 170 euros.
The waterproof sailcloth strap costs approx. 56 euros, with occasional sales of 42-45 euros. As far as I’m concerned, this is a reasonable price for a strap as sturdy as the one I tested.
There are plenty of customization options available with FinWatchStraps’ leather straps, and with their expertise in strapmaking, I think the one flaw I mentioned can be easily fixed. Since the Airman has a case design with long lugs and a 20mm lug width, I never anticipated that I’d encounter that issue. So, in a way, that’s partly my fault.
FinWatchStraps is very communicative, so I’m sure they’ll be able to help you find a perfect fit for your wrist and watch.