It is February and we have yet another Watch Strap Review for you. Even though we try and find strap makers from around the world we also have to give space for guys coming from the same country, especially if we’re talking about countries like the US or Italy where many craftsmen are dealing with leather goods. Don’t worry, we will widen our map with a new country again but for now let’s talk about a strap maker based in the US. It is a very sympathetic company that has a great potential to be one of the best around with a friendly attitude and a professional execution when it comes to straps. Ladies and Gentlemen please meet: Strapped Watch Co.
From now on let me call them SWC as a, it is much easier and b, this is how they refer to themselves. Not too long ago I received an Instagram DM from Shawn, the man behind this project. He seemed like a very humble yet professional guy and nice chap in general. We discussed a few things regarding the review, like we usually do, and agreed that Shawn would send me a few samples of his work for the upcoming review. Let me emphasize that throughout the process he has proven to be pretty much one of the most helpful and easy guys I have ever dealt with. Not that I do not have a good relationship with guys we review but he was extremely nice and helpful. For that, I thank you very much, Shawn.
The company is located in Chicago, the same city where watch sensation and friend of Fratello Watches, Oak & Oscar hails from. Something must be in the air in Chi-Town when it comes to watches as besides the above-mentioned guys our last Watch Strap Review contestant, Rover Haven Straps, also comes from near the Windy City (well, Michigan, but close!), just like the late Speedmaster legend, Chuck Maddox. SWC uses tanned leather from the best American tanneries including Horween (also Chicago-based). The driving force behind establishing the brand for Shawn, like in most cases, was the lack of a decent strap for his first nice watch, again like in most cases, a Panerai. Shawn took one step at a time, learning, experimenting and improving his skills and only after 18 months did he feel that it’s time share his creation with friends. The rest is history, as they say and we are happy that we can help cementing SWC’s name into the walk of fame of strap makers.
I received 3 straps from Shawn, 3 different yet unified ones. All of them are made of Horween leather (what else, right?) yet they look and feel completely different. During my time as a writer for straps and accessories in general I have come across a good few sports-inspired straps. I’ve tried one made from a baseball glove, an actual baseball, but I have yet to see one made of a football. Technically this one is not made of a football either but the actual leather the footballs are made of. Let me elaborate; Horween is the licensed (only) supplier of leather for the NFL. Meaning that the company (Wilson) producing the actual footballs for the NFL has to buy leather from Horween. SWC gets the same raw leather so instead of buying old balls and cutting them up they just use the leather straight from the manufacturer. Now let’s look at the measurement; 13cm and 8cm in length, 20mm in width and 4mm in thickness. They are pretty standard sizes I think. However, Strapped Watch Co. is happy to work with your measurements if you want to have one custom-made, like my brother Michael Baby-wrist Stockton would have 😉 I’m always afraid of these sports straps as I tend to think they would be stiff and uncomfortable in the wrist…. and I’m always wrong. This strap is absolutely fine, sits comfortably and does not make my skin itch at all. It is not tapered and due to the thickness I’d only suggest using it on relatively large watches. In fact, I wore it while watching the Super Bowl so it already has some nice history attached to it. The buckle is a 20mm brushed steel SWC-logod custom piece: pretty nice and sleek-looking. The white stitching is even and waxed, edges are also smooth and painted. All in all, it’s a cool summer strap alternative for your go-to watch. It would look cool on an Oak & Oscar (I’m looking at you, Chase). The price of this awesomeness is around $85 (about €75), which is actually quite decent in my opinion.
The second strap in the parcel was something you’d see often. Most strap makers use this design not because they don’t know better but because it’s a wonderful layout and looks great on almost any watch, vintage or new. Besides, I’ve never seen 2 that looked similar despite using the same blueprint. Anyways, this one is tapered using the classical 20/18mm size, 13cm and 8.5cmin length and 3mm in thickness. According to Shawn it was made of Horween Derby leather and due to it being vintage, it has a similar effect to the Colareb straps I reviewed a little while ago. It has a beautiful chestnut tone and ecru saddle stitching to complement it. The edges are not only smooth but also rounded, giving the strap an extra comfortable feel and -sit on the wrist. The buckle on this one is polished 18mm steel. If you are opting for this gem from Strapped Watch Co. it will set you back $75-85 (€66-75). I can but suggest getting this if you have a nice vintage watch with a faded or darker color dial. It would be the perfect match. I’m enjoying it on my vintage Angelus and I have a feeling it will not leave the watch anytime soon.
Last but not least we have a beautiful Horween Shell Cordovan nato strap in 20mm size. What can I say about it? I think it’s just perfect. Shell Cordovan is popular leather amongst strap makers and leather craftsmen in general. The smooth shiny finish makes it unmistakable and the stamp on the back guarantees that what you have is indeed the real deal. You cannot say much about a NATO; some love it some hate it. I like NATOs especially if they are made of leather. The nylon version is so 2007. We saw that every watch company last year came out with a novelty on a nylon nato. Please, do come out with something this year on some sweet leather NATOs, similar to this one. The color is very dark brown, almost black and the grey stitching with the brushed buckle and holders pair up nicely with the leather. I’d even put a nice Rolex Datejust on it and wear it for a dressier occasion. No, I’m not a fan of the grey/black nylon NATO on a Seamaster 300 with suit like JB does. But this is something else, elegant yet sporty and special. The price of this beautiful Strapped Watch Co. NATO strap is $75 (€66) that seems like a fair price in my book.
Besides the leather straps, Strapped Watch Co. offers you some canvas and nylon straps too but I’m sure if I asked Shawn he would say he’s most proud of his leather creations and for a reason. As said above, Shawn is an extremely nice guy and I’m very proud to have been able to review his work. One last thing: Shawn celebrated his 30th birthday a few days ago (13th February) and the entire Fratello Watches team would like to wish him a Happy Birthday for the big 3-0 and much success with his business. Now dear readers let’s give him the best gift ever: as many orders as possible.
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