Watch straps can take an absolute beating, often unnoticed. It is wrapped around your wrist every morning, a metal tongue punching through the same hole on each occasion. It will absorb the oils from your skin for the next 14+ hours; get wet each time you watch your hands; be exposed to sun, wind, rain, hail, or snow (all in the same day if you reside in Scotland like us). It might even pick up some food or coffee stains at lunch. There was also that one time you went for a swim after work and didn’t take it off, even though we definitely told you that you should.
In all seriousness, Instrmnt - and by extension, our customers - have actually been pretty lucky: in the process of working through four full strap redesigns and countless smaller upgrades since our launch in 2014, we have gone from shipping watches with a good strap to shipping watches with an exceptional one. Our design team’s uncompromising attention to detail and belief in constant evolution has meant that the product has been improved to a level where we know we are offering some of the finest across in the entire industry. It is perhaps also worth noting they are one of the best value natural leather straps on the market - something that has always been important to us.
This comes primarily from the close relationship we have with our German and Italian workshops. In Bavaria, situated idyllically in a densely forested region near the Czech border, our leather manufacturer has been producing watch straps at their family-run atelier for over 80 years and has worked with us closely and tirelessly to develop our vision for the super high quality unstitched, cut-edge construction strap that ships with all Instrmnt Everday watches (01-Series, K-Series, T-Series). It treads the fine line of suppleness and simplicity against long term durability to an impressive degree.
Likewise in Northern Italy, our rubber strap manufacturer is producing a piece that, in form, is visually identical, other than the special NBR compound material that gives our rubber straps an even greater level of durability. And yes, the ability to swim with your watch on if you so wish.
Working with incredible craftspeople like those mentioned above doesn’t take away from the fact that customers need to look after your strap though, whether it is leather or rubber. We suggest - in an ideal world - replacing leather straps every 9-12 months, and rubber straps every 18 months. We have included some tips and advice below to help you improve the longevity of your purchase.
How to look after your leather watch strap:
It perhaps goes without saying, but take your watch off when doing anything that you think could get it very wet or permanently damage it. Showering, swimming, dishwashing, playing sport, or going to the beach with your watch on are all heavily advised against. Generally, just use common sense in this area.
When you take your watch off at night, lay it flat rather that one it’s side or with the leather folded. During the day, remember not to wear your watch too tight. Wearing your watch strap slightly looser on the wrist can increase its longevity as it is under less strain.
How to clean your leather watch strap:
Firstly, remove the strap from your watch using the forked end of the tool we provided with your purchase, then remove the small spring-bars from the strap (the two pins that attach the strap to watch). Keep them safe.
A simple, neutral, soap and a warm moist cloth can do wonders. Work in small circular motions focusing on the top side of the strap then turning your attention to any obvious stains. Our leather is naturally veg-tanned, so you don’t want to use a very wet cloth or produce too much of a soap lather.
If you want to use a proper leather cleaner you can. Just don’t go crazy. We would suggest products in the Keralux Leather range, which can be particularly good for water-based stains. Some of the more advanced Keralux products also contain substances that can give a layer of protection against further stains and UV damage in the future. Likewise, Fiebings Aussie Leather Conditioner can help to breathe new life into a flagging strap.
How to look after your rubber watch strap:
Thankfully, rubber straps require less maintenance to look after than their leather counterparts by some margin. A lot of people like the materiality of leather and the way it develops over time, but if you’re looking for a more simple and hardwearing option then a rubber strap is a good choice.
You’ll notice the NBR compound straps have a rather pleasing Vanilla scent. This is impregnated into the material during production and is specifically developed to mask the typical smells associated with sweaty straps. It will slowly fade over the lifespan of the strap.
If you want to swim with your rubber-strapped watch you can (all our watches have a 5ATM pressure rating, ie more than fine for the pool), but be aware of the spring bar pins and the fact that they shouldn’t be wet for an extended period.
How to clean your rubber watch strap:
Once again, remove the strap from your watch using the forked end of the tool we provided with your purchase, then remove the small spring-bars from the strap (the two pins that attach the strap to watch) to avoid them getting wet.
The most economical and easy cleaning method is to use some washing-up liquid on a warm moist cloth. It can be a little wetter than what you might use on a leather strap, but you still don’t want a huge amount of soap. Rub the cloth in circular motions until you see the dirt or mark start to break up.
We hope you found some of these tips and directions useful. In reality, it is simply common sense, but these things warrant a reminder - it can be easy to forget just how harshly we all treat our watches. Start as you mean to go on. Keep your strap in as good a condition as possible from day one and it should last for many years to come. In our office, across the Instrmnt team, there are straps of all ages being worn - from a couple of months to 5 years - and some of the older ones now look the best. A deep patina or a couple of marks can tell a great story and doesn’t immediately mean your strap is past its best.