Watch Strap Review 57 — Artem Sailcloth Loop-Less Strap On The Omega Speedmaster
The name “Artem” comes from the Latin phrase, “Ars est celare artem” (English: true art conceals the means by which it is achieved). But Artem is also a name from Ancient Greek mythology, generally meaning “strong as a bear.” That term perfectly captures what Artem stands for with its durable sailcloth straps. A bear is both strong and, as you’d imagine, very comfortable — before deciding to attack you for trying to cuddle it, that is. The synthetic sailcloth material shares this ethos and takes it further with this latest creation — the Artem Loop-less strap. Today, I test this strap on the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch and Seamaster Diver 300M to see if the newest generation sets the bar even higher.
We’ve covered Artem Straps on Fratello before, and I’m sure several of the Fratelli have dabbled with its creations. But it’s worth diving into what makes Artem stand out. Overall, the black sailcloth aesthetic lends itself to a variety of different watch styles, from chronographs to pilot’s watches and divers. The texture appears more utilitarian than a leather strap but is dressier than rubber, landing sailcloth in a sweet spot of versatility. It’s not the actual cloth used on sailing vessels. Anyone with yachting experience would know furling a mainsail is no easy feat due to the thick, heavy, and rigid material. Therefore, Artem’s sailcloth is a synthetic and scaled-down interpretation with a similar cross-stitching pattern. On the underside of each strap is a thin rubber lining that’s glued and stitched to the sailcloth, with a choice of black, gray, and white stitching colors.
My history with Artem
With the basics out of the way, it’s time for a bit of my history with Artem. I bought my first Artem sailcloth strap in the summer of 2021 to go with my Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. I needed another item to qualify for free shipping at checkout, so I added the Artem deployant buckle. The strap was $98 with the quick-release option and $47 for the now discontinued buckle, pushing me over the $100 minimum spend for free shipping. Some people are vehemently against deployant clasps due to the increased bulk of the overlapping strap ends. But in my experience, the benefit of securely fastening the buckle without the risk of dropping it already outweighs the size issue. Adding to that is how deployant systems preserve the shape of the strap and elongate its lifecycle by avoiding stretching the material to slot it in the pin buckle.
The seperate deployant clasp fits the Artem pin-buckle Artem strap. But it comes with a drawback…
However, this particular deployant retrofits the traditional pin-buckle strap. While the strap releases and fastens reliably and is very comfortable, the keepers spoil the aesthetic somewhat. A typical strap has a fixed keeper, or “loop,” and a floating keeper to slot the pointy end of the strap, preventing it from getting caught on things and bowing outwards. I removed the floating keeper on my Artem by maneuvering it over the spring bar end. But ridding the strap of the fixed keeper would cause irreversible damage. Therefore, I left it on with the deployant buckle despite it serving no purpose and sticking out unpleasantly from the underside. I got used to it with time, and unless you’re taking it off, you won’t notice it. But it did bug me enough that I switched back to the pin-buckle setup.
That was until the recent Richard Mille-style clasp came along, with a butterfly system that was interchangeable with a pin buckle and used the keepers to tuck the strap away.
The new Artem Loop-less
However, the RM-style clasp was just a bit too far removed from the Omega style that I wanted for my Speedmaster. I know it’s very petty, but that is how our horological brains work. Artem seemingly answered my prayers with the Loop-less sailcloth strap. Unlike previous editions, this strap is for deployant clasps only. There is no central indent on the buckle-end of the strap into which a standard buckle pin would fit. So, if you’re not into deployants, this is not the strap for you. But it’s well worth a try if you’ve previously balked at the cost of Omega-stamped options. For example, an Omega leather strap and deployant buckle are around $500. The Artem Loop-Less is $201 with a newly designed deployant buckle included. The style is even reminiscent of Omega, with the Cordura strap for the Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy 45th Anniversary being the primary source of inspiration.
The native deployant layout of the Loop-less strap solves the drawback of the pin-buckle strap.
Some Omega collectors love the Snoopy strap so much, they replace the stock option for each of their Speedmasters with them. The Cordura cloth differs from the sailcloth by having looser diagonal stitching that’s more breathable. But Artem captures the shape and fit of the Snoopy with its loop-less strap, so it doesn’t look out of place on an Omega watch. Even on the adjustable end, there is silicone protection around the holes so the clasp does not wear away the external surface of the sailcloth. You may recognize this from the Snoopy watch or perhaps the Dark Side of the Moon. Despite the familiarity with previous Omega watches, some may be confused about adjusting the Artem buckle to the correct size. Well, I mentioned the Artem was $201 with the buckle. But if you already have another deployant clasp, maybe an Omega one, and it fits, you can buy the strap on its own for $133.
How to fit the Artem deployant clasp
Whether you bought the strap with the clasp or use the Omega clasp, the system is the same. The buckle end pivots to release and close the clasp. The strap side with the holes is the only way to adjust it to your wrist. But the technique is to slide the strap through the gap where it’s narrowest. Before committing, you can hold the strap in place to try to find which size is best for you. Once you’ve determined the appropriate adjustment hole, you have to pinch one side under the metal tab, then the other. This prevents the strap from twisting side to side. Once in, slowly slide the strap until the clasp pin precisely lines up with the hole. Then apply pressure until it’s securely in place.
Artem straps mold to the wrist after 30 minutes.
With the sizing complete, it was my time to start enjoying the Artem Loop-less. Unlike some sailcloth, Artem straps mold to the wrist incredibly quickly. At first, the setting may feel tight, but that’s what you want to ensure the strap learns the shape of your wrist. It’s a bit like leather shoes that need time to figure out where your toes and ankle sit. But in contrast to leather shoes, the Artem takes around 30 minutes to an hour to take shape, rather than days and weeks. My first observation is that the strap looks incredible on the wrist and changes the watch’s appearance. Also, the buckle end no longer sits in the middle of the wrist, but rather, over-extends to the other side.
I took out the calipers to confirm this and noticed a considerable size difference. The buckle end on my previous Artem (including the deployant) is 81mm, the “standard” option. The same strap end is 109mm on the new Artem. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of this as I’m used to buckles sitting centrally on my wrist. But over time, I came to like how the style is seamless, complying with its “Loop-less” name. Although, the downside of the smallest setting is that the non-buckle end sits quite far under the wrist. While it’s still comfortable, it does add a bit of bulk to the feeling of the strap. That said, measuring the clasp at the broadest part of the strap when closed only comes to 10mm. It’s not exactly ultra-thin, but because these straps mostly fit sports watches, the thickness is proportional to the case sizes.
Since there are no XL or XS options for the Loop-less, the 109mm is the only size available. This is fine for me, where the smallest setting is perfect, and the buckle subsequently hides the adjustment holes. But for people with smaller wrists (<175mm), the Loop-less may wear too loose on the wrist. In that case, it may be worth waiting for more sizes to arrive in the Artem store. Another element that is unavailable on the Loop-less is quick-release spring bars. Quick-release adds a lever to disconnect the strap from the watch case without the need for a spring bar tool. This is especially useful if you swap out straps frequently. Although, the Artem Loop-less does provide space around the shoulders of the spring bar to fit a spring bar tool. This avoids creasing or damaging the material.
Strong as a bear
In the intro, I mentioned that Artem’s sailcloth straps are durable, and indeed they are. Other sailcloth straps tend to crack the inner lining due to their rigidity. But the Artem remains smooth on the inside no matter what, and the external surfaces retain the textures with no discoloration or crease marks. The straps are also water-and-weather-resistant, and any dirt or grime can be easily cleaned off. You may also notice that the padding shape is slightly different from the regular Artem strap. The stitching sits slightly nearer the edges, with the padding sitting flatter than the usual curvy pattern. Despite the change in shape, the thickest parts of each strap measure 5mm. To my eye, the form of the Loop-less is a visual improvement that doesn’t drastically alter the Artem DNA.
In conclusion, the new Artem strap nails the native deployant option with the sailcloth material. The comfort, aesthetic, and durability are what keep me coming back to Artem. I can’t wait to test it out in warmer climates! At the time of writing, the Loop-less is only available for 20mm lug widths and in a standard length. The single-size option may be an issue for some, but keep your eyes on Artem’s site and its social media account to track any updates and additions. As mentioned previously, the Loop-less is $133 on its own and $201 with a choice of steel and PVD steel buckles. If you don’t already have a deployant buckle that fits 18mm buckle ends, optioning the Omega-style deployant clasp is a necessity. The Artem buckle also comes pre-attached to the strap, so you only need to fix it to the watch out of the box. For more details on Artem, stay tuned to @artemstraps on Instagram.