The second Watch Strap Review of November is here, dear readers! We have another country to add to the ever-growing imaginary map of the Watch Strap Review subjects. The strap maker hails from Karlsruhe, where I lay my head at night too, so for the first time I managed to actually meet my subject in real life. Joe from Lionstraps is a very cool laid back guy, has a large variety of straps and a great eye for new materials and techniques. He is well known by Seven Friday fans being huge on that 28mm strap game but also takes offers for other projects. As a matter of fact, there are a few things in the mix between me and him in terms of future strap projects but let’s keep that a secret until we finalize what were are working on right now. For the moment let’s look at his brand and his straps, please meet:
It’s not a secret that I contact strap makers that I find on Facebook or Instagram (if you want to nominate someone please don’t hold it back and send me a mail or a DM on Instagram @ferenczibazs) and the later is where I came across the Lionstraps account. I was browsing his photos when I saw one, which was taken at a spot in Karlsruhe I know quite well. I dug a bit more and it turned out that he actually lives in the same city I do, Karlsruhe, Germany. So after the initial contact via WhatsApp we fixed a meeting where he would bring some samples and I would bring him some straps from my collection of other makers I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in the past. Time flew by quickly in great company; Joe took a few notes and promised to get back to me soon with the results. Since the first meeting we already met a few times at various spots in K-Silence (as the other Fratello gents call the city) spreading the love for watch straps with people sitting around us, looking at us like “Who are these guys and what the hell are they messing with?”. I did not want Lionstraps to make me the usual leather straps I’m getting a lot because he is so talented to come up with new materials. I thought it would be cool to do something different. So let’s see what he came up with as per my request.
According to him, the top seller design, which he came up with and since been copied by other makers, is the comic strap. The great thing about this is the larger strap you need, like a 24mm Panerai or a 28mm Seven Friday, the more details can be seen. I know this is very far from the classic way of strap making which we featured so far but on the one hand Lionstraps is capable of doing that too and on the other hand I think these designs will be popular among many readers. It’s hard to match that strap with a watch, you need to have a relatively large timepiece to sport it, as the strap is pretty thick. Because of the nature of the material it can be pretty stiff so you need a good few days (maybe even weeks) to get used to the strap and break it in but once it’s done you have an absolutely great looking alternative for your favorite timepiece. The measurements are pretty standard 12.5cm and 8.5cm with a 20/18mm ratio on the lugs and buckle. The thickness is 4mm. This strap, as well as the others, is hand-made from start to finish, it has a soft black leather lining. Black stitching is running around the rim of the straps giving extra security though they are hard to see because of the motifs. Lionstraps’ comic strap is priced around €90 (tapered) but it really depends on what the customer wants as every Lionstraps product can be customized. Once extra cool feature is the Cryptonite buckle that Joe hand makes if you order one, which is made of a material that glows in the dark (as you can see it here). Every buckle is hand cut and polished.
Last year I visited Iron Heart in Gosport when they were releasing their collaboration with Pinion Watches. Iron Heart is a Japanese denim company; pretty much as cool as it gets when it comes to selvedge denim. The Iron Heart distributor in Gosport and I were talking about the possibility for a denim watch strap. I told him how cool it would be to have one on the Iron Heart/Pinion but he said it is really hard to work with denim and produce a strap that’s good quality and still looks awesome. With this in mind I asked Lionstraps to make me a denim strap and since Joe did similar projects he was happy to give it a try. The result is shown below and you be the judge. I think it came out quite nicely. The strap was made to fit a 20mm watch. However, the widest part – just before we reach the lug tips – is 23mm. This resembles the original reference 1162 Omega bracelet that you can find on the vintage Speedy MarkIIs where the hooded lugs are only 20mm bit the last link before the end piece is wider and revives the shape of the watchcase on the bracelet. With this strap on the watch the shape is changed giving a more oval look to your timepiece. The length of the strap is 13cm and 7.5cm with a buckle width at 18mm jut like the previous strap. The strap has a great flexibility; it does not feel stiff at all when worn. The inside is covered with soft black leather inner to protect your skin from the ruggedness of the denim. This time Joe used a dark beige thread for the closed stitching. The end of the strap is square (not pointy as you could see in case of the comic strap) again something that breaks the classical look and traditional execution of watch straps and provides a more up-to-date look to your watch when worn on this denim strap. The price here is a bit cheaper at €80 and again fully customizable should you need to change some features.
The third strap project Lionstraps made for me is another one of his “signature” models, a strap made of an actual baseball. He makes straps from baseball gloves but I already featured something similar from Detroit Strap Co. about a year ago so I thought why not try and see what a strap made of baseball would look like. Like I said in connection with the comic strap, it looks really great if the strap is wide but even as a 20mm version like mine it is absolutely fun. There is only one problem with the strap; you have to find a watch that fits the design. Due to the color of off-white and red it is not easy to match the strap with a watch but once you’re past that “problem” you are set with a great combo. The measures are 13cm and 8.3cm, which is pretty standard and again 20/18mm on the ends. The strap is made entirely from a ball; actually according to Joe one strap equals one whole baseball. To finish the look he uses red saddle stiches. The strap is very flexible and soft; the inner side is covered with some soft red leather, which is glued to the baseball leather. There is no other stitching to preserve the original look of the strap. The price is the same as the comic straps’ so roughly €90 (tapered) but please get in touch with Lionstraps should you have any questions or special requests regarding the measurements of your strap.
As I told you in the beginning of the article Lionstraps is more than a comic or a baseball strap makers. Joe does really interesting straps made of vintage ammo bags (juts like our friend MJ Leather), toad (!) crocodile or stingray leather, he also tans his material and just recently got into laser engraving natural leather prior to tanning and cutting them. Other than his ready-made straps he takes orders and happy to work with just about anything. I already asked him to do a few custom made pieces for me and the quality and craftsmanship he put into them didn’t prove me wrong. Besides, Joe is a super nice guy and already an up and coming star in the custom strap world. Please check out his Instagram and Facebook pages and make sure to put in an order next time you are in need of some extra awesome custom shoes for your favorite watch.
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up... read more