Categories
Watches

F and E Buckles and Bands closing sale

One of my go-to shops for watch bands is the inexpensive F&E Bands. I got the email today that they are closing:

My customers,
I have decided to get out of the watch strap business for good.  I must liquidate my inventory before I close.  In order to do this, I am having a closing sale.  Effective now, all my inventory is 50% off, no exceptions.  All straps, tools, spring bars, etc. are included in this clearance.  Everything is first come first served and everything is final sale.  To get this discount please use the coupon code “Closing” at checkout.  Please note the shipping is not subject to the 50% discount.
Regards,
Frank Bame
Owner F and E BnB

http://fandebnb.com

A shame to lose them, but a large discount for us customers.

Note: Due to my own idiocy, I had the wrong site. And the wrong logo. Which would explain the issues with the discount code. Sorry.

Categories
Watches

My SBGN001 arrived

19mm lugs… bad. Really limits strap choices. Some of my 20s can be fitted as shown.

More as I wear it!

And yeah, I shot it next to the Bolt, both are personal milestones.

Categories
recommendations Watches

An unusual strap

Bought this ages ago but finally tried it. The stiffness works well with the large Seiko and it’s quite comfortable, which was a nice surprise. Find it on Amazon. 13 bucks.

Categories
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:

IMG_2858

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.

Why?

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:

hirsch-performance-robby-perforated-sailcloth-and-rubber-lined-watch-band-22mm-robby-091-xx-940-50-16

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

Segmented polyurethane

Screenshot 2018-08-28 14.39.46

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.

Affordables

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.

Vendors

  • 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:

Soft_Blue_950141b0-0d24-450d-bfa8-93c9134afd1f

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!

Canvas

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

canvas-5

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.

Nantuckett_Blue_fc85d7e5-6a12-434f-8fa9-8fc75c12bb27

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.

Perlon

These are different. They fit literally any wrist, since the tang goes into the weave, and they’re like eight bucks each on cheapestnatostraps.com. 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.

IMG_3090

Bracelets

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

IMG_2564

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.

Categories
Watches Wish lists

Ratcheting/extensible clasps

I was reading OceanicTime: ORIS ProDiver GMT and the last image reminded me:

 

ORIS ProDiver GMT 06.jpg
Image credit: OceanicTime

 

That’s a nice clasp. If you look close, it has two side buttons, and when pressed you can lengthen or shorten the strap by about 1cm.

This is a brilliant feature and every strap and bracelet should have it.

Here are the ones I’ve seen, reviewed or coveted:

 

gp-8.jpg
Image credit: ABtW

 

That’s the Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk II, from my review on ABlogToWatch.com. That was the first time I had ever seen one, as as noted in the review, they’re a damned fine idea.

Rolex introduced their Glidelock (details here) and it’s on several of their models now:

 

inside_Sub_clasp.jpg
Image credit: minus4plus6.com

 

I owned a Tudor Pelagos for a while; it has a superb clasp and adds a spring-tensioned mode; probably the best of any design I’ve used:

02-light-and-resistant.jpg
Image credit: Tudor

That’s not a great picture, here’s a better one found via Pinterest:

 

da9f5fbbf3b25068116a6d486cd56907.jpg.png
Image credit: Unknown/Pinterest

It’s more complicated but works better.

The Seiko Marinemaster SBDX001 I owned had one but I disliked it; too thick, sharp bits that poke the wrist and awkward to use:

 

iur.jpeg
Enter a caption

Omega makes one too, part number 117stz001154, has quite a few fans:

IMG_2792 (1).jpg
Image credit: WatchUSeek

Now, with all of those (and others that I’ve missed, IWC for example), you’d think that buying one would be easy.

Or at least possible. Nope. This is one of the very few that I’ve found:

CLASP20-017B-1.jpg_520x400-1421052400.jpg
Image credit: Strapcode

It’s just OK, compared to the others, and they want $63 for it, more if you want it in PVD black.

Hey watch companies: Please add these to every bracelet you sell! And the dive straps too.