After a bit of a break Watch Strap Review is back with a new article. This time we look back and discuss what we saw this year in BaselWorld regarding straps. We had more appointments than ever so I can honestly say that we had a great grip on what was going on. Nothing truly new hit the displays but a few reinterpretations and a handful of cool straps and bracelets. So without a further ado let’s have a look what BaselWorld 2017 brought us this year.
No more NATO
The first thing I recognized is the lack of NATO straps on the 2017 novelties. I mean they are still around and of course many still consider it the go-to strap for its versatility, ease of use and durability but the brands went on a different route this year. I think out of all the meetings I’ve been (and trust me I’ve been on many) Fortis was the only brand to offer a watch on a NATO. Finally, I must say, as before they did not have any in their collection and the grey NATO (shout out to Jason and James) we saw worked really well with their latest novelties. NATOs are here to stay but it was nice to see that the companies chose another route for 2017. The reason behind this could be all the time-only pieces that brands released.
Speaking of which, the trend of hand-made leather straps that started about a year or so ago is still on and I can’t be happier about it. From Omega to Eterna many companies chose these hand stitched vintage-inspired straps over the usual (sometimes boring) dressy versions for BaselWorld 2017. Don’t get me wrong those are sweet option for a more formal look. If you want to shake things up however you might want to have these vintage later straps with side stitching. They add character and aged look to the watch, uniqueness that a lot of us are looking for. One of the forerunners of this new wave is Nomos. From the first time, I laid my eyes on a Nomos watch I was instantly caught by the strap they pair the time piece up with. They do this deliberately and know exactly what the next move will be. Can’t wait!
I am pretty sure the “material you never thought a strap can be made of” award goes to Chopard this year. I already discussed their novelties and mentioned that the Chopard L.U.C. XP has a special strap. It is cashmere, very soft dark grey with minimal pattern. I mean I have seen straps made of many things but cashmere has to be something else. To top things off though, Chopard went one step further and did not only use any leather inlay. They chose alligator leather to give the stiffness cashmere lacks. So, on top you have a soft cashmere upper layer but if you flip it over the beautiful texture of the alligator leather appears. How sturdy the strap will be, is another question. Time will tell.
The next strap is not new but this is the first time I saw and tried it on. Laco owns a few of their original flieger A- and B-Uhr watches they made for the German air force back in the day. The interesting thing about those watches aside their ginormous sizes and recognizable design is the strap. It’s basically a two-piece thick leather strap where the longer piece with the holes has a second upper layer to protects the buckle. In-between these 2 layers you have a roller that secures the strap and does not let it unlock. The look and functionality of the strap system on their novelties is the same as the original from back in the days. It is a very nice attention to details with this model and while it may not be the subtlest strap to wear it gives character and charm to the time piece.
Bund straps are great and comfortable but they can fell bulky sometimes. Hermés took the design of the original bund and ran with it. This year at BaselWorld 2017 they showed us the refreshed Hermés Cape Cod classics where they offer the Hermés adaptation of the bund. More square shapes to match the style of the watch in plain black leather but also in olive green crocodile for the ones who look for something out of the ordinary. I’m not a Bund guy at all but to be completely frank I kind of liked the design and their take on these.
I guess it was only a matter of time. Frederique Constant has always been a pioneer in the (luxury) smart watch field. Surely their models lack certain features other connected watches have but it was never their intention to follow those brands. More to create their own lane, and I think they did it with a success. This year they launched something a lot of watch lovers might find interesting – the E-Strap. The idea is simple: you have a normal leather strap and a special FC buckle system which also include a tiny square just below the buckle that houses the “smart” module. It connects to your phone and has the features of the smart watches from Frederique Constant. However, these straps can be attached to any watch turning them into a smart watch. The price starts just over €220 and you can order them in 20 or 22mm.
To sum things up
All in all, it seems that brands pay more attention to straps year after year. We saw various materials and executions at BaselWorld 2017. Vintage leather, aged leather exotic or plain calf are all around. Of course, bracelets are still a thing but if a brand wants to offer a cool alternative they usually add another option in the mix; a great leather strap. I love this trend and hope it never dies out. A leather strap can make a watch that originally comes on a bracelet look so much different. Aside from the companies we mentioned above brands like Junghans, Oris, Hamilton or Monta all had something up their sleeves. I also loved the two-tone Tudor bracelet and would not be surprised if we’ll see more two-tone watches next year.