recommendations Watches

Where to buy watch straps

A friend asked me for a few sources of watch straps, so I’ll start a page here that I can share around. I’ve bought a lot of straps and bracelets, probably in the 1-2k range if you count watch-specific bracelets, so I’ve got lots of opinions to share. Here’s a quarter of my current collection:


But first, Paul’s Rules for Strap Acquisition:

Rule 1: Always

… buy the bracelet. Often, watches are offered with and without the bracelet. Buy the bracelet when you get the watch even if you don’t want it immediately.


Because bracelets are specific to a watch. In particular, the end links are nearly impossible to fit and/or find properly. So buy the bracelet; swap it it out if you want but I’ve never once regretted having it. They cost a lot more if you return post-sale to buy the bracelet by itself. For example, IWC wants over $1,000 for an Aquatimer bracelet.

Similarly, if the factory strap has a ratcheting/extensible clasp, buy it. See that post for reasons and details.

Rule 2: Never

… buy the factory leather straps. They’re OEM’d anyway, the markup is severe, and since leather only lasts a year or two, your value for money is poor. Buy a fancy custom one from ABP or Camille Fournet if you want, it’s still a better deal.

If the factory buckle or deployant is to your liking, you can often buy them separately and they are easily fitted to a strap.

Rule 3: Rarely

… buy watches with non-standard lugs. Oris Aquis, IWC Aquatimer, VC Overseas, Tudor North Flag… all great watches, but finding third-party straps is at least a hundred times more difficult.

Let’s Spend Some Money

This page will probably need lots of expansion and edits; for now I’ll sketch out the major topics and links for later. Leave a comment if you want, it’d be good to know which pieces are useful to know more about.

How to Shop

I was going to write this up, but this Barton page does it better. Read that and come back. Covers sizing, how to fit a NATO, wrist size and more.

If you want more opinions, there’s a WUS forum dedicated to straps and bracelets that is a deep well of knowledge.

Shops and Vendors

High-end leather

For leather, I recommend kangaroo for versatile/comfort, Cordovan for sheer beauty, and calf for comfort/price. You can get real alligator, but it’s import/export controlled, meaning that you need paperwork to sell a watch with a gator strap, and the one I bought isn’t all that awesome.

  • ABP High end, think 200$ per strap and up, first-rate reputation and well worth a visit if you’re in Paris.
  • Camille Fournet Also high end, the last RGM I bought had a CF strap, probably mostly 100 and up.
  • Hodinkee Nice stuff, also expensive, well photographed and curated, overpriced in my opinion.
  • Worn and Wound Similar to Hodinkee but about 80% of the price.
  • Christopher Ward sells a superb Cordovan leather strap with a Bader deployant (found via this review) that is amazing. It’s not cheap at $125, but the quality of the leather and clasp is easily 3x the price, there’s no discernible difference from the Omega deployant and leather. I bought one of these for my Omega Globemaster and I love it.
  • I’ve bought bunch of varied mid to high end straps from Global Watchband, they also sell alligator from $200 to $400 each. I get my Hirsch from them as well as my Cordura.
  • OWC Kangaroo – the best $100 strap that I’ve ever seen. 20mm only, with fixed tubes that necessitate drilled lugs, but OMFG ‘roo leather is the best. Full review to follow.

Pricy but cool

Erika’s Originals MN straps are like $80 each, but the backstory (French parachutists, see this story) and actual straps are very cool. I have two, and they work on lugs from 20 to 22mm and are pretty good especially in hot weather.

As of August 2018, Erika has a lower-priced competitor in The Watch Steward. According to this WUS thread they are solid competition. I’ve not seen them yet.

Also cool is the Hirsch Robby sailcloth. It’s $110, very expensive for a rubber strap, but the build detailing and comfort are worth it to me. Instead of a slab of rubber, it’s articulated and vented, so you can wear it with less induced sweat when the weather heats up:


the Robby is my pick for best rubber strap I’ve had.

Segmented polyurethane

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I think these were introduced with the JLC Navy Seals or maybe the Luminox 3000 series. It’s made a like a bracelet, with individual links, but instead of metal the links are plastic and thus very lightweight. They’re a bit pricy at $35, but I quite like mine. Also note that you can use an Exacto to fit them into smaller lugs, I shaved a 22mm into a 20mm and it looks okay. Get them on Amazon.


You don’t need to spend a hundred bucks to get a great strap, let’s talk both vendors and materials for straps that you can afford and stock up.


  • B&R Bands is great. Straps under ten bucks, all sorts of materials, some with quick release, a good way to try a few styles and colors.
  • eBay and Amazon, of course.

Materials and styles

Silicone rubber – undoubtedly the Barton 2-piece silicone:


This are about 1/9th the price of the Robby and have quick release, it shouldn’t surprise you that I have quite a few of these!


I used to buy these from Timefactors and had quite a few:


However, they no longer list them, so now I buy and recommend the Barton 2-piece quick release, which I get via Amazon. Well made and I love the quick-release straps.


Nato & Zulo

So many options! Here, my favorite vendors are:

  • BluShark makes high-quality seatbelts especially, the AlphaShark here on my Seiko is a very comfortable strap.
  • Haveston makes really cool and thicker straps with pretty color ways. I’ve yet to buy one though.
  • ToxicNATOs has gotten more of my business than all others combined – their Blue Falcon and ShizNit (seatbelt) straps are my go-to favorites. Highly recommended.


These are different. They fit literally any wrist, since the tang goes into the weave, and they’re like eight bucks each on I bought a fistful and promptly lost them all to my daughter who loves being able to color-match any outfit in a few seconds. Good in warm weather, waterproof but can poke your skin a bit with loose plastic and they definitely look a bit cheap.



As I said above, this is hard. Here’s the only time I’ve managed good end-link fitment:


That’s a cheap ($20ish) 3-link Oyster with hollow end links, that I painstakingly hand-filed to fit the watch. It took a couple of hours, and the bracelet is still uncomfortable with sharp edges. So yeah, but the factory if you possibly can.

For bracelets, start at Strapcode. Good stuff. I’ll have more posts on bracelets since there’s lots of depth here to explore.

Site news

“Gigabit” home Internet

In San Diego, we have decent ISP options, and for a while we even had the possibility of Google Fiber. (That would have been awesome.) I’ve been on Spectrum, FKA Time Warner, for a few years at 300/25Mbit, and today a technician came by, swapped out our cable modem and upgraded us to “up to 940Mbit.” The Spectrum page with availability check is here.

Upload speed unspecified, and the ‘up to’ is never good. The price is 125/month, but there’s a $20 discount for a total of $105 a month with taxes, which is the same price I’m paying now. You do have to pay $200 for a technician visit, but I can get over that.

The other local ISP of interest is AT&T, who in some areas has full, symmetric gigabit. Not our area yet, though.

Anyway, it looks like the money I saved on my EdgeRouter X has bitten me. It was a $50 replacement when my ER-3 Lite died, and I knew when I bought it that it maxed out under 400Mbits. Sure enough, today I ran some speed tests, and also a BitTorrent download of the Ubuntu ISO and even on wired gigabit I’m “only” seeing around 350Mbit by 45Mbit:

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During the test, the CPU on the router hit 100% – there’s the problem!

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Meh, I say, meh. This MUST BE FIXED IMMEDIATELY. Off I went to the Ubiquiti router comparison page:

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The ER-4 is new, and looks great – still silent and fan-less, more power (13W vs 5) but not too bad, and much faster. Amazon has them for $166. I’ve ordered one, and if that helps then it’ll be money well spent. I think I made the right call with the ER-X, as the ER-4 wasn’t out yet. If not, well, hmm. That’d require more work and research.

More info for the curious: I tried disabling DPI in the ER-X, but it made under 10% difference, and the other thing I’ll try is doing the speed tests directly from the laptop to the modem. The tests that I used are HTML5 speedtest and

Update 8/2/18

I enabled hardware offload and re-ran the tests. A tiny bit faster, and now no CPU problems, but where’s my speed?

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And when I plugged my laptop directly into the modem, voila:

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Still not full gigabit, but much better. Uploads peaked over 100Mbit too:

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So I think I’ll try the ER-4 and see how it does. Odd that others on the net had better luck with the ER-X, though.

Update 8/3/18: Yay new router! Peaking at 958Mbits:

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Mind you, this is testing at peak Internet time, Friday evening, so I suspect I’m limited elsewhere. So far it looks great as far as speed. I wasn’t able to restore my old configuration onto the new router, so I’m in for a couple of hours of tedium tomorrow recreating the dynamic DNS setup, but that’s not terrible.


recommendations Watches

Keep it simple: G-Shock GA-800

I was browsing a while ago and for some reason this caught my eye.

That’s the GA-800. Sixty eight bucks on Amazon.

It’s basic for a G. Analog and digital, a rare second hand, even lume on the hands to match the blue dial illumination. Easy to wear, a bit smaller than most.

It lacks gps, barometer, radio set and solar power. The reverse LCD is hard to read at any off angle. The lume is only on the hands and not the dial, so at night you have to use the overly bright light.

Nevertheless I’m delighted with it, it’s an affordable and deeply fun watch. Easy to read the time, very light and comfortable on wrist, and at this price I didn’t flinch when I bashed it on sandstone last weekend.

If the red is too bold for you, there are other colors including black, some with more legible standard LCDs. It’s easy to find on Amazon or wherever; not a jdm or limited edition.

Here’s where I got mine: G-Shock Men’s GA-800 Red One Size

Random recommendations

Zero DS-R

Took a test ride today. Was initially thinking Zero S, but I much preferred the upright stance on the DS. Awesome bike and damn near silent.

More than enough range for my commute and work has free charging. Not too heavy, easy to ride, very zippy and easy to maneuver. Me like.

Health recommendations

Scan Your Feet

Sometimes, a few minutes of time will make a large difference in your life. I’ve got one of those to share. Yesterday at work, the work fitness center brought in two guys from Fleet Feet with their ‘fit id’ foot scanner:

Image credit: Fleet Feet

So you stand on the scanner for a few seconds, and a dozen cameras scan your feet. Science!

For me, I’ve long had problems finding shoes that fit. Size 15, so right there I lose 80% of the brands and stores. Recently I’ve been buying wider shoes as they seem to fit better. However, I learned that my problem isn’t width, I’m actually narrower than average, but I have super high arches and the extra material added to wide shoes helps span the arch of my taller feet.

Well dang. That helps. I’ll try arch supports, that should help as I get back into trail running. The lack of support was apparently why I had Achilles pain; makes sense.

Fleet Feet sends you the results; here’s a link to mine and here is a screenshot:

Screenshot 2018-04-20 08.38.08

Click through the link and you can Explore! My! Feet! In 3D!

Anyway, if you do any running I cannot recommend this enough. It took less than 15 minutes, I got a nice paper note with recommendations for shoes and insoles that should work for me, and the man helping me was super. No sales pitch at all, just helpful advice.


Their locator is here and I would assume that other running shoe stores might have the same system.

Like I said, some times a few minutes of your day makes a huge difference. This is one of them.

Watches Wrist shots

Yes Equilibrium

So this arrived today:

That’s the Equilibrium, the new model from Yes Watches. I had a small but prolonged role as an engineering consultant and got to visit Hong Kong twice as part of it. I chose the shiny black titanium case and orange accents because by golly I’m proud and I want you to ask me about it!

It took years of engineering and manufacturing obstacles, and of course a world financial crisis too, that didn’t exactly help. Bjorn et al: ya done great.

And today is tax day, I’m finishing ours on TurboTax, where I work and also have a small role. I’m proud of that, too. 😉


This is why you should buy the new Apple keyboard

Right here:

Full sized escape and function keys! And escape is actually 1.5 keys wide; vastly easier to hit.


OWC 6538 today

Soprod A10 (high end stuff) movement, killer anti reflective coatings on both sides of the sapphire, lumed ceramic bezel, beautiful machining and at 40 by 12.9mm, wears great. The 6538 big crown from my friend Dan at OWC. Band is a Toxic Shiznit, modified to remove the extra layer and cut to length.

Both are awesome.

I mean, look at how clean the knurling is and the polish on the sides. The value proposition here is tremendous. I’ve been wearing Dan’s watches for close to a decade, and consider him a close friend, so I’m biased as heck, but damn he makes fine watches.


Wyze camera

This thing is awesome. Think cheap machine vision experiments, doorbells, baby monitors, time-lapse, home security. 1080p, wireless, with sound and more.

The hardware is a small cube, here on the shelf:

The iOS app is good, here’s a screenshot:

And it saves to device with a click:


Night vision works pretty well with four 0.5W IR LEDs. And you can even use it as a webcam/intercom or baby cam. And an SD card to record.

It can trigger based on motion and send push notifications but I’ve yet to try that.


Limited to about 10 fps.

Needs WiFi and power.

No Ethernet.

Frequently out of stock on Amazon.

But damn, at $30 who cares? Head on over to Amazon and buy one to try.