There is nothing that will make you look more stylish and give you a confidence boost like a nice pair of shoes. What you have on your feet can make or break any look.
A leather watch strap is like a pair of quality leather shoes. It doesn’t matter if you have the most amazing wrist watch in the world - if the leather strap is worn, discolored or dirty, you will be much better off leaving it at home.
With a wrong or worn leather strap, you won't impress anyone.
It is also fair to note that quality leather straps are hard to find, especially in Australia. While the Internet makes the search easy, choosing the right strap could be a challenge. On the other hand, if you do your research thoroughly, finding a perfect match between a strap and the watch is a very rewarding exercise.
Not to mention the obvious: an 'aftermarket' strap is significantly cheaper than the 'original' strap and you will have more flexibility of style, colour, size and length than you can think of!
A couple of weeks ago, I contacted a bunch of strap makers with an offer to supply a strap for 'the most travelled watch in the world'' tour. The idea was simple: show us what you can do for our watch and we'll tell the world about your strap-making skills.
In no time, we got 3 strap makers excited about our project.
The first one to take up the challenge was Mr. Frankie Tso from Banda. Frankie has been in the strap business for at least 30 years. Actually, when we first started our business in Sydney, we stocked Banda straps for a few years. We lost contact when the Australian wholesaler sadly passed away, but we cherished good memories of a quality product.
While I was familiar with the Banda straps, I did not know much about the history of the brand. A quick visit to the company website revealed that Frankie is very proud of his business:
BANDA, with over three decades of watch strap manufacturing experience, has earned a high reputation internationally as a high-grade leather watch strap maker. Established in 1978, the company dedicated itself as the main partner of a strap company in Switzerland. With traditional Swiss leather crafting expertise assisted by revolutionary Swiss machinery, BANDA is committed to being a prime player in the production of leather watch straps that have been appreciated by many prestigious global watch makers and watch strap aficionados ever since.
I shot an email to Frankie asking him to introduce Banda to our subscribers:
Frankie - it is obvious that love got you into the strap making business: the love for leather and the love for watches. While a high degree of technical knowledge, skill and patience, are require to craft an "art form", what is the most difficult process or phase in strap making? What is your ultimate challenge?
The process of developing a custom strap is very time consuming and requires a lot of patience from the leather craftsman due to the many small operations required for each strap. In general, the most important process is to cut the leather strap from the leather/skin so it is the exact size, length and shape specified by the client before other operations such as gluing, polishing/painting of the edges, stitching, adding strap keepers, hole punching etc. can be done.
The internet certainly makes the ordering process easier than ever?
Banda.com, one of the World's first websites for tailor made watchstraps, was first launched in 1996 just after internet access was made available for the general public. Over these years, Banda.com has been offering watch strap lovers a way to get custom bands built the way they want it. The current renovated site has also been built with an especially creative and straightforward system for watch lovers to create their very own straps.
What is the turnaround time for cutom-made straps?
Turnaround time for a custom watch strap is usually between 14 to 18 days. It is always worthwhile to wait as you will be more than happy ending up with an unique product created with your very own idea.
What is the most expensive watch you've made a strap for?
I have never asked my customers how expensive their watches are but I know I have made straps for many famous brands such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Panerai etc.
Your most expensive strap?
Perhaps a XXXL custom strap in hornback alligator leather which was made to fit on an Audemars Piguet!
If you are to pick one strap in your entire production, which one would that be? It is hard to say as every strap is made to fit or match with particular watch models. Therefore, I believe there is no one perfect strap, but rather a perfect strap for every user for every watch. Watch collectors all over the world are fashion-conscious men and women who are very particular about their watches - not just about the timepiece itself but also the watch strap material, color, design, pattern and stitching with every client having his or her own preferences.
This morning, a small parcel arrived on my bench containing six Banda straps custom made for the world travelling watch. Obviously, Frankie is someone you can trust: a reliable and prompt businessman.
I felt like a seven year old girl who just got a new set of fancy dresses for her Barbie doll :-)
The very first strap to fit on the Davosa was the BANDA VINTAGE JACKET. This dark brown vintage looking strap gave the Davosa a cool and casual appearance:
The highly polished buckle was a perfect match to the watch case.
BANDA does not need my endorsement or promotion to continue doing what they do the best. Rest assured: in the next few weeks to come, you will see more of Frankies creations not only on the Davosa but on some of our other watches as well!
Whether you intend to spend money with Frankie or not, is entirely up to you. However, it is important to keep in mind that hard working craftsman who are there to support your hobby are not easy to find.
I for one am grateful to Frankie and his team for providing some very fine straps to both watch enthusiasts and watch professionals.