Monday, February 1, 2010

Watch straps - part II

Your response to last week's newsletter
in regard to overpriced leather watch straps was totally overwhelming!
Many of you voiced your opinion (over 300 emails received!) -
and I thank you very much for expressing it.
The 'strap scam' by Swiss manufacturers is so widely practiced.
It looks like that $500 is now barely enough for an original brand name strap
Many manufacturers are charging over $1000 for even mid-range models.
And if you think that's crazy amount to spend on a leather strap,
then hear this: an original pre-Vendome Panerai straps
now fetch over US$4,000 on second hand market - if you are lucky to find one!

But enough of bad news. Let's focus on positive.

Here are few tips for those who refuse to be ripped-off.

1. Don't give up searching for an ORIGINAL strap!

There are few watch wholesalers who still offer
original straps for certain models at wholesale price, direct to public.
A good source for Omega straps is Otto Frei
US based but definitely worth doing business with,
especially at times when exchange rate is favorable to AUD.
They also have those hard to find Omega bezels
at half price of SMH Australia.

Australian watch parts wholesaler are not well stocked
and would not gladly deal with individuals,
however if you are watch collector or hobbyist you should have
no problem opening an account. You don't need
shop front or ABN either, especially if you pay upfront.

Smith and Smith is based in Sydney
and Seivers (02 9279 1755) have offices in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.
Keep in mind that they are specialized suppliers so
be polite, factual and don't waste their time.
When ordering it is essential to provide strap manufacturer's code and
watch reference number. Both are good source for anything SMH and TAG.

2. Hand and Custom-made

This is your best value for money option, especially
when looking for a replacement strap for Panerai,
Breitling and other large case-size watches.
Good starting point is list of strap makers is located here:
Support independent craftsman!

3. Look for a substitute by another maker or brand

In some cases (and with bit of luck) suitable replacement strap may
be sourced by another watch manufacturer.
For example, most of Glycine straps are not only well made
and reasonably priced, but they are almost ideal for vintage
and new XL watches like Rolex Sub, Longines, Breitling,
IWC and Omega. Yes this may be a long shot but you'll love the saving.

4. The old-fashioned way: buy your next strap
from specialist strap maker!

Probably the best known strap maker is
Austrian manufacturer Hirsch, established in 1765.
On offer is large range in many different
styles, colors and band width.
In Australia, Hirsch is represented by Duraflex (02) 9417 6268
- call for your nearest stockist.
Or search for online retailer like

As the prices of original straps continue to rise,
more makers will specialize in production of
'aftermarket' straps. Most likely, being the strap specialist, those
makers will soon produce straps that are not only cheaper but
of better quality than originals - which will make them
brand name in their own. A good example of this phenomenon is
Mario Paci

If you have your favorite supplier or strap maker you
are happy to recommend let me know and I'll pass
your information in next email. As always, special thanks goes
to subscribers who kindly provided references and links to above mentioned


Jakub said...

I have very good references for German Di-Modell straps.

Russ F. said...

Thanks for this article. I recommend Bas and Lokes straps in Sydney. I have purchased 6 straps from them and absolutely love the workmanship and their excellent customer service. All their straps are custom made and much nicer than any of the OEM straps I have ever bought. Their website is