Fluco Forest Green Shell Cordovan Chicago Strap Review — Make Other Watches Green With Envy!
Getting bright, consistent, and crucially long-lasting colors out of vegetable-tanned Shell Cordovan leather is difficult. In fact, it’s so tough to guarantee colorfastness that only a handful of options are available. You can get pretty much any color you want using chromium dyes, but the resulting quality of the strap and its appearance, suppleness, and lifespan is often the trade-off. Fluco decides against trading-off with quality and, instead, brings us probably the most exciting color you can get in Shell Cordovan, and that’s a rich forest green.
Back in 2017 when NOMOS Glashütte opened an account with Harrods, I commissioned the green Shell Cordovan strap from Horween that we released exclusively via the world-famous department store as a little celebration of our partnership. I pored over thread colors for weeks in advance and settled on a distinctive contrasting green that looks very similar to the beautiful Fluco strap I’m holding in my hands today.
In fact, I’d never seen a green shell cordovan strap before we made the Harrods edition and since then I’ve seen more and more, and they all seem to use the same thread color. Either my eyes are playing tricks on me or great minds think alike! Regardless of whether it is a coincidence or not, I obviously love this combination. As such, I thought it only fitting I attach this Fluco strap to the NOMOS Weltzeit which was the first watch in the world to receive the now-defunct Harrods strap that this beauty reminds me of so fondly.
Cut from the same cloth
As fate would have it, I am actually able to provide a side-by-side comparison of an entirely box-fresh green Shell Cordovan strap (the one from Fluco) and the one I wore for about 18 months while traveling extensively (that’s relevant because I put this thing through hell). In what was an odd, but blessed move, I decided to keep this old, knackered strap (sweat-abused as it is) for nostalgic reasons. Now, quite unexpectedly, that decision proves valuable as you can see pretty much exactly what might happen to your strap over time.
Why am I comfortable making this comparison between straps from two different brands? Because they both buy their leather from the same place. The family-owned and run Horween tannery in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the finest and most respected craft institutions in the United States of America and, in truth, the whole world.
Age is nothing but a number
Here’s one thing to bear in mind, though: natural leathers wear very differently from chromium leathers. They age more organically. The PH level of your sweat (which can be more acidic in some people than others and vice versa) and the conditions to which you subject the strap can vastly alter its aging process. These Shell Cordovan bands are waxed by hand to give them their wonderful (if divisive) luster out of the box. Over time, this wax can creep out of the pores of the strap, giving the surface a cloudy appearance. That’s nothing to worry about, however. The wax can simply be rubbed back into the strap to restore some of its original shine.
The way the strap reacts to your wrist will also determine whether it gets shinier or more matte over time. I tend to “mattify” straps with my highly acidic perspiration (blame my diet and stress level). Whether you like how your body gets on with vegetable-tanned Shell Cordovan or not is really something you won’t know until you try. I hear a lot of criticism about these straps’ shininess and how the “boot leather” look is not to everyone’s liking. That’s fine. I get it. I used to feel the same way. Then the straps I had to wear when I worked for NOMOS started to age and I started to fall in love. Hard. And, to be honest, I think I’m still falling.
A sign of the times
It’s a funny thing to buy a luxury watch product and will it to age. I guess it’s not too dissimilar to the bronze phenomenon still sweeping the industry. And yet here I am, saying exactly that (as someone whose watch collection consists of 1.5% bronze watches only).
I’ve long looked at leather goods in a different way. I like leather items to be rugged. I want them to feel natural. Whenever leather gets scratched, scored, buffed, or bumped, I rejoice. It looks like it has lived a life (in addition to the life it lived to become a leather good in the first place).
I suppose that slightly macabre joke is actually part of the point: this is an organic material and so I want it to be as real as possible. Despite its reputation for having a military sheen, the transformation of Shell Cordovan on the wrist elevates it to a very special level among leathers. Artificially aged or distressed leathers are cool. Crazy horse leather is divine. But well worn and cared for Shell Cordovan? It has the kind of character only time can impart. And so I have to say, in conclusion, this 20/16mm strap, with its gorgeous color and quick-release spring bars, is my favorite from Fluco yet. At €79 it (and the five other colors in this style) have the ability to spruce up many of the watches in your collection. Learn more about the brand here.