Watch Strap Review Part 37 – ColaReb
Four years after our first review of ColaReb straps, we have decided to take another look at their new pieces, including a pair of 100% Vegan straps.
As Balaz’s wrote in this last Watch Strap Review, we do not review straps for money. We either review straps we bought previously and considered them interesting enough to be introduced to you, or we select straps from manufacturers that approached us proactively, and we found their straps to be interesting enough. Today’s review of selected ColaReb straps is a combination of both.
A year-long ColaReb temptation
I made my first order from ColaReb a year ago. I liked their straps so much that I made another order a few months later. If you’ve ever bought more straps from one brand, you will remember juggling selected goods in your basket before checkout. There are so many you like, but obviously, not all of them can make the cut. I clearly remember two straps I had nearly ordered twice, but never went through with it. To be more specific, it was the ColaReb Wooden and the ColaReb Ecosuede. Both 100% Vegan straps. I liked both very much, but looking at the total cart amount, I opted for more conservative alternatives.
ColaReb line-up for today
Thus when the Italian manufacturer ColaReb approached us recently, I knew exactly what to ask for. I put the Wooden and Ecosuede at the top of my list. The third cadet was also a no-brainer: the ColaReb Spoleto Stitching, one of my all-time favorite straps. As for the classics we chose the Racing, the Siena and the elegant Napoli. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Turning vegan with the ColaReb Wooden
The wooden strap doesn’t occupy a premium position in the ColaReb shop. Actually, it sits at the very bottom. If it weren’t for the fact that the goods are arranged alphabetically, I would feel a bit touched being a Wooden strap. I was attracted to its structure the second I saw it. The thumbnail shows the strap in characteristic wooden tones, but I opted for the plain black. In black it feels industrial-like rough and a bit ‘dirty’, while still being subtle and elegant thanks to its thickness as you can see below.
Have a closer look at the strap for a minute, and you will see some similarities with a rubber tire, for example. Or perhaps even with the Clous-de-Paris dial of a Royal Oak. The upper structure is simple but very interesting. If you look at it longer, its textured nature comes to life. It also feels a bit different, neither wood, leather, or plastic. But it feels good.
Decades of experience
ColaReb manufactures all of its products in Italy and has been in business for almost thirty years. “We started as a small business in Rome, and we used to sell watchbands and repair watches and clocks as well. After doing it for many years we wanted to make something different and dreamt about our work being known all over the world,” explains Eleonora from ColaReb. They now have customers all over the world and the new innovative wooden strap will no doubt make their fan base only bigger.
The wooden strap is really light-weight, featuring a microfiber inner lining that is very mild to the skin. While you wouldn’t be sure how to describe the outer material, you would be sure of its characteristics. It is not as responsive as the Spoleto (featured later), but it is definitely not stiff. In terms of stereotypes, one might describe the feeling when strapping as a bit plastic-like. But it was more of an initial expression. When the strap gets used to your wrist shape, manipulation is quite natural, with a very original scroop when strapping or unstrapping it.
When I asked about more in-depth info, Eleonora proudly says that “We consider the Wooden strap to be one of our biggest achievements thus far.“ To make the wood surface flexible and elastic, a new patented laser cut technique has been used. After the incision, the wooden plate that comes from certified forests is placed on a string of cotton fabric to simulate the feeling of a real leather strap as much as possible.
Before the ColaReb Wooden was delivered to me, I already had a watch candidate ready for it: a 36mm vintage diver YEMA Junior. I undid it from its Tropic strap and fitted the Wooden strap. Verdict? I have no plan to switch it to another watch but planning to buy a few more. And not only for a few of my divers! I also tried out the ColaReb Wooden with other, classier watch designs, and it fit very well. If you are too bored with plain leather or are fed up with the ‘vintage’ stitches behind the lugs of your watches, the Wooden ColaReb might be for you. It is comfy, unusual in terms of material and design and it costs 49 Euros.
For a recently acquired vintage Vulcain Cricket, I was looking for something more elegant. The simple textured dial split into four quadrants feels quite striking but also busy in its details. I planned for a matching strap, and the ColaReb Ecosuede Mokka came in handy. There is a slight discoloration between the pictures in the shop and the actual strap but in a positive way. The piece I got has less brown-ish/red-ish tones and seems slightly desaturated. Color-wise I am happy, as it fits with my idea. I also like that it sits somewhere in between dark and bright.
Ecosuede under the loupe
The concept of a strap completely free of animal leather is new to me. The microfiber synthetic suede leather is made of nylon (polyamide) and PU (polyurethane) and looks and feels the same as real cow suede leather. Durability, tension, and tear strength should all be beyond genuine leather.
I like my leather straps as much as I love my steaks. A lot. But it kind of felt right to try the Ecosuede. Actually, I was excited to do so and not only because of the 100% Vegan stamp on the inside. The suede effect was already very attractive in the photos. No reason to change the statement after playing with it and trying it. The hypoallergenic microfiber and biodegradable Ecosuede is indeed soft to the touch. A detail I like in particular is the same feeling from both sides of the straps. Usually, the lining differs, but here you see the same material.
The surface structure is similar to suede, maybe a bit less fuzzy. Everyone I asked about the strap called it suede, so the visuals are very convincing. The ColaReb shop states that it is 3mm in thickness, but thanks to the stitching all along the strap length, it is thinner on the edges. Speaking of lengths, both the Ecosuede and Wooden have a standard 11,5cm longer part and 7,5cm shorter part. The manufacturing quality is superb, making the 41 Euros price tag very tempting. So if you’re after something new in terms of material, I highly recommend it.
My buckle problem
The only thing I would challenge is the buckle. I like the style as it is neither edgy nor too round. What I don’t like is the fact that all three featured straps have the same buckle. I know a lot of owners change them for original buckles, but either way. I feel there is a lot of potential in playing more with buckles and fitting them to the particular strap characteristics. However, this is not a ColaReb only issue, as it applies to pretty much all the strap manufacturers.
ColaReb Spoleto Stitching
The Spoleto Stitching first came to me on a vintage Breitling Chronomat ref. 769 I bought from the trusted Andreas. I didn’t know ColaReb at that time, but the Spoleto Stitching has since become one of my favorite straps. After all, I included it in all of my past ColaReb orders and currently count five of them in my collection. In comparison to the straps mentioned above, the Spoleto feels much thicker and goes along with all the chronograph diameters. Now comes the surprise. With more than 3mm in thickness, it is the most flexible strap. If you play with it, it feels much more like a 3mm thick piece of cloth, not a leather strap.
10/10 for comfort
For me, gentleness, adaptability, and malleability are top criteria for wearing comfort. If you’re not a fan of thin leather straps, this one will do the trick. The rough leather look makes it very universal and easily pairable with many watches in your collection. A strap of that thickness usually doesn’t have such thin and narrow strap loops, another contrasting detail I like about the Spoleto Stitching.
I am not a big fan of bracelets, or let’s just say I prefer leather, so I wanted to fit my Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 with a strap too. I chose the ColaReb Napoli to do the job. Until recently, I was not a fan of matching brown straps to a black dialed watch, even more so if mixed with big lume plots and a Pepsi bezel. Yet I gave it a try, and its growing on me. The Napoli is made of Pieno Fiore, or full-grain leather, considered to be some of the best leather money can buy. It is durable, looks very natural, feels soft, and you can find it in Maserati cars. The price is €75,-.
ColaReb Siena and Racing
This is the duo I liked very much but enjoyed the least. I would give it some extra thought when optioning for these, as they aren’t as universal. The problem isn’t the straps, it is my wrist and the particular watches in my collection. I dare say that even the Speedmaster looks a bit too small for them. The visual impression from the straps seems perfect when not yet fitted, and one can imagine plenty of your watches as pairing candidates. But I suggest thinking twice because when stripped to watch, it really asks for 42-43 mm in diameter. If you wanted to fit it to a smaller diameter, replacing the really chunky buckle and the duo of loops attached together on a thread would probably help. If you are looking for dressing a vintage, scroll up, but if you have a bigger wrist or bigger modern watches in your collection, especially the Racing ColaReb with 56 Euros price tag will be a great option.
For more information, visit the ColaReb website.