VintageWatchstraps Logo

Vintage Watch Straps

Straps and bands for fixed wire lug vintage military trench or officers Great War wristwatches.

My Designs of Watch Straps and Watch Bands

Leather NATO G10 & RAF

Leather NATO G10 and RAF straps are now on a separate page: Leather NATO G10 & RAF.

Copyright © Notice

This page describes in detail the designs of the replica Great War era wristwatch straps that I supply. Details of prices, postage costs and how to place an order can be found on the Ordering page.

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me via my Contact me page.

Authenticity and Originality

J C Vickery Advert 1916

As I explain on the History page, there was an upsurge in demand for men's wristwatches during the Great War (the First World War or World War One, WW1 - 1914 to 1918.) Before this, most watch manufacturer were making pocket watches and hadn't anticipated the sudden demand for wristwatches. Men's wristwatches had been made before the Great War, but there was not really much demand for them and not much thought had gone into their design. The easiest way to produce a wristwatch was to make some modifications to an existing small model of pocket watch wristwatch, adding loops of wire, called lugs, and passing a strap or band of leather through these to secure the watch to the wrist. The first wristwatch straps were single continuous pieces of leather which passed through the wire lugs and across the back of the watch, and this was the type of watch that was produced in huge quantities during the Great War.

My two piece cuff straps are authentic replicas of period military pieces like the one shown in the 1916 advert by J C Vickery here. They look good and chunky on the wrist, are comfortable to wear and show off your vintage timepiece at its best. No man's fixed wire lug watch looks right without one of these style of straps. I wanted a strap like this so that I could wear my grandfather's 1918 silver Rolex watch, but I couldn't find any of satisfactory design and quality, so I had some made!

Strap Mark on Silver Case
Strap Witness Mark on 1916 Omega

Because the lugs on trench watches are only 10mm or 12mm wide they have to be fitted with a narrow strap. Sometimes that's all they get fitted with, a narrow strap not much wider than a decent bootlace. Although this is authentic - there are plenty of pictures showing men wearing watches with very narrow straps, to modern eyes a narrow strap on a man's wrist looks completely wrong and ruins the appearance of the watch. If you have ever worn a watch with a strap like this, you will know that it is also very uncomfortable to wear. However, there is evidence, such as the J C Vickery advert from 1916 reproduced above, that the benefits of a wide strap were soon recognised. These had to be made with a narrow strap that would pass through the lugs, so a wider back pad was added for comfort.

Trench watches are also often fitted with straps that fit onto the lugs rather than looping through the lugs and across the back of the watch. Again this is authentic, there are adverts from the period that show watches with this type of strap. But most trench watches were used with one piece straps, which is what I prefer for period authenticity - you can often see witness marks on the back of the case where the one piece strap used to run, as in the picture of the 1916 Omega shown on the right. Sorry it's a bit tarnished, but that's when the witness marks show up best.

One Piece Strap

Strap Detail
Fixed wire lug showing path of strap

My straps are designed primarily for Great War era watches that have fixed wire lugs which take a one piece strap that passes through the lugs and across the back of the watch case as shown in the strap details picture here. The wire lugs of these early watch cases are simply made from bent pieces of wire soldered to the case, shaped to allow the strap to loop across the back of the case. Wire lugs usually have a dropped shape to guide the one piece strap across the back of the case, and also leave plenty of room between the case and the lug for the strap to slip through as shown in the picture. The back of the case is also rounded so that the strap doesn't need to make a sharp bend to go across the back of the case.

To be sure that your watch will take a one piece strap you need to look at the path the leather will take through the lugs and across the back of the case. If the lugs are sized and positioned so that the strap can take a gently curved path like the one in the picture, and there is at least a 2 mm gap between the case and the lugs for the strap to pass through, then it will be fine. usually it is obvious if the case and lugs were intended to take a one piece strap. If the path that the strap would have to take has sharp or right angled bends, then it is probably not suitable for a one piece strap and you should take a look at my open ended straps described below.

Modern Horn with Spring Bar or Fixed Bar Strap Fixings

After the early fixed wire lug watches, more modern watches have "horns" fixed on side of the case, and either spring bars or fixed bars which engage with these horns. The bars usually come closer to the case than fixed wire lugs, and often they either don't leave enough space for a one piece leather strap to pass between the bars and the case. Also the placement of the bars on the mid line of the case often doesn't allow a one piece strap to wrap easily around the bars and then across the back of the case.

If you have a watch like this, then I can supply a two piece strap that fits directly onto the bars instead of looping across the back of the case. This type of strap fits the horn and bar configuration better than a one piece strap, which is more correct for wire lugs. These can be either open ended for fixed bars or closed end for spring bars. Please read the section on "bund style straps" below.

Back to the top of the page.

My three basic designs of vintage watch straps

I have cutters for three basic designs. The original Type A and Type B design are shown on the left, the more recently added Type C is shown on the right. The Type A and Type B are illustrated with standard slots, the Type C with double slots.

The Type A design can only be supplied with the standard single slots for the strap to pass through as shown in the picture, but both the Type B and the Type C can be made with either the standard single slots, or with the double slots as shown on the Type C and described further below.

Type A:

The Type A design back pad has straight sides and is 26mm or about one inch wide all the way along.

Basic Designs
Type A and Type B designs with Standard Slots

The Type A design will take straps up to 14mm in width. It is not really suitable for straps wider than 14mm on aesthetic grounds: clearly the 25mm back pad could accommodate a 16mm strap in principle, but I just don't think it looks right. I usually keep 10mm and 12mm in stock.

The Type A design is not suitable for the double slots that are described below.

Type B:

The standard Type B design back pad is about 35mm wide before flaring out to a wider section of just over 40mm wide behind the watch with a notch for the crown. This size of the Type B design suits average size men's trench watches with case diameters (that is diameter of the case excluding the lugs and the crown) between about 32mm to 37mm best, smaller than 32mm and the crown doesn't fall into the notch cut out for it, which would not look right.

The Type B design can be supplied with either single slots as shown in the picture, or double slots for 10mm, 12mm or 14mm straps. I keep the Type B strap in stock in 10mm in the single slot design, and in 12mm width in both single and double slot styles. If you make a special order on a Type B and you want double slots, please be sure to make this clear.

The standard Type B design can in principle take straps up to 20mm width, although I personally think that it is best suited to what it was originally designed for, narrow straps around 12mm wide as used on Great War era trench watches with fixed wire lugs.

I have also had cutters made so that I can supply two larger sizes of the Type B strap that suit watches of (1) up to 45mm and (2) up to 50mm.

The Type B can also be made without the notch in the standard size, but not in the larger sizes.

Basic Designs
Type C with Double Slots

Type C:

The Type C design is similar to the Type A, but the back pad is about 31mm wide. I had this design made to take wider straps than the Type A can accommodate; the Type C can take straps up to 20mm in width.

The Type C design can also take the double slot feature described below, which just doesn't work on the Type A design because it is not stiff enough.

I keep the Type C strap in stock in with 12mm straps in the double slot design. If you make a special order on a Type C and you want standard single slots, please make that clear with your order.

Back to the top of the page.

Omega watch on Type B tan morocco
Type B tan morocco double slots.

Single or Double Slots

I found a picture of a watch with a strap that had closely spaced double slots so that the thinner strap ran on the outside of the back piece over most of the circumference. I liked the somehow more rugged appearance of this strap so I have now had some more cutters made to reproduce this appearance.

You can see my version of this strap fitted to an early Omega wristwatch in the picture to the left.

This design can be made on the Type B and Type C back pieces, but only for 10mm, 12mm and 14mm straps due to limitations in the cutters.

NB: Double slots maximum width 14mm.

Back to the top of the page.

Cutting Out Leather - why I can't make just anything

I can only supply the designs of the shaped back pads that I have cutters for.

The length of the straps can be varied, within reason, because they are simply straight sided strips of leather.

The straps and back pads are made from two pieces of leather glued back to back. To make a neat job the two pieces of leather are glued together before the shaped pieces are cut out. To cut out the shaped back pads, each piece needs to have a cutter of the correct shape.

These cutters are, in principle, just like the pastry cutters that cooks use to cut shapes out of pastry, but the difference is that these cutters are made from tool steel, very strong and sharp, and they are pressed through the leather using a hydraulic press which exerts tons of force! Each cutter is made by a specialist toolmaker, and they can be quite complicated. Cutters for straps include punches for the pin holes, cutters for back pads include punches for the slots. They take time to make and are expensive, that's why I can't just make anything.

It simply isn't possible to cut the glued double sided leather neatly any other way, scissors and knives just don't make a neat job.

This is also the reason why I can't cut down any of the back pads that are too long, it simply doesn't result in a neat looking job. Straight cuts in leather are fairly easy to make manually, but the cutters are designed to make nicely shaped back pads and a straight cut on one of them would look like what it was, a hack.

Back to the top of the page.

Wrist size and strap length

From experience I know that the standard length of my straps suits most men. However, how a strap fits depends on the shape of your watch and the path of the strap through the lugs, and also how tight you like to wear your strap.

The back pads, whether Type A, B or C, are 168mm or a little over 6½" long. These fit OK on a wrist that measures 165mm / 6½" around, or even slightly less because when you wrap the strap around the wrist the strap travels a little more than 6½" inches and so the ends do not meet, but if your wrist measures less than 6½" or 165mm around, then the standard back pads will meet or overlap, in which case take a look at my Straps for Smaller Wrists.

If your wrist is less than 180mm / 7" or more than 190mm / 7½" around, or you are close to either of these limits and you don't want to be on the last hole of a standard length strap, then send me the measurement around your wrist and I will get a strap made of the correct length to suit you. It just takes a bit longer than ordering a stock strap to get one made to your measurements.

Keep thing simple and just send me your actual wrist measurement, preferably in millimetres. The best way to take the measurement is to wrap a dressmaker's flexible tape measure around your wrist at the point you wear you watch and take a reading from this, or wrap a piece of string around your wrist and make a mark with a pen where it overlaps and then measure the distance between the two marks with a rule.

Please don't try to second guess me on this and give me a measurement that you think will somehow work better. If you take a measurement from an existing strap this produces a slightly different result, so let me know if you do this. If you give me what your wrist actually measures, then I guarantee the strap will fit; I can't do this if you give me a different measurement.

Back to the top of the page.

Strap path

Strap Detail
Fixed wire lug showing gently curving path of strap

Bear in mind that one piece straps are intended to fit a watch like the one shown in the picture here, where the lugs droop to make the strap pass easily across the back of the watch. If the strap of your watch takes a more convoluted path than the one shown, or has sharper bends because the lugs don't droop as much or the case is less rounded, then a longer strap will be needed to follow the path. Please let me know, and if at all possible let me have a photograph of the lugs from the side.

If you have a "modern" watch, by which I mean one with horns and spring bars or fixed bars, then you need to think about whether it was designed to take a one piece strap that passes across the back of the case. Early military watches with fixed bars generally were, because the idea was that if one bar failed the strap around the wrist and the remaining bar would retain the watch. These watches have a generous distance between the case and the bars, like WWW watches such as Omega W.W.W. watches shown on my Omega page. Later military looking watches, especially those designed to take metal bracelets, have a much narrower gap.

If you have a watch like this, then I can supply a two piece strap that fits directly onto the bars instead of looping across the back of the case. This type of strap fits the horn and bar configuration better than a one piece strap, which is more correct for wire lugs. These can be either open ended for fixed bars or closed end for spring bars. Please read the section on "bund style straps" below.

Back to the top of the page.

What width Strap or Band do I need?

What width strap do you need? The strap should fit the lugs snugly, or else the watch is always wandering off to one side and it gets very annoying pulling it back to the centre all the time. If your watch has a strap currently fitted that doesn't fit the lugs snugly, then it is the wrong size. When new, the strap should fit the lugs tightly because as you wear the strap and it stretches lengthwise, it also shrinks slightly across the width, and if it only just fitted the lugs when new, it soon goes sloppy.

Lug Strap Width
Lug & Strap Width

The picture shows an Electa watch with a correct size strap, 12mm in this case - see how it snugly fits the wire lugs. To find out what width of strap you need, either carefully measure the inside width of the lugs on your watch, or cut a strip of card so that it just slides through the lugs, and then measure the width of the strip.

Please note that I can only supply straps in even sizes, that is even numbers of millimetres i.e. 10mm, 12mm, 14mm etc. This is determined by the cutters we have available in the workshop, and the nature of leather. It is not worth making cutters in every millimetre size because leather just can't be cut to the sort of accuracy, it is a natural flexible material which moves slightly as it is being cut and varies in strength and flexibility across the hide. Talking measurements of +/- 0.5mm just doesn't have any real meaning.

If you are sure that your lugs are an odd size, I suggest that you go for the next larger size, e.g if you measure your lugs as 11mm, get a 12mm strap. It will fit with a bit of careful threading through the lugs: leather is a marvellous material which will squash down to fit the lugs - see the advice about fitting a one piece strap above if you think it will be really tight. This looks a lot better than a narrow strap that leaves your watch slopping about from side to side. And also leather straps always get slightly narrower as you wear them, because as they stretch slightly in length they also contract in width (the Poisson effect), and you don't want it to go sloppy after a few wears.

If you measure your lugs as a fraction of an even size, e.g. 10.5mm, then go for a 10mm. A ¼mm either side will not show. Please remember that working with leather is not like precision machining; an accuracy of 1mm in cutting out the leather is about as good as can be achieved given the nature of the material, and it will stretch or squash in use. This is one of its great qualities which has not yet been replicated by artificial materials, so please bear it in mind when you are thinking about a strap.

I try to always keep in stock the standard 10mm and 12mm widths. I can also supply 14mm, 16mm, 18mm, 20mm etc. wide straps to special order, which takes up to a couple of weeks, but if you need one it is well worth the wait! Please remember that the cutters are in 2mm increments, so I can't do odd sizes like 13 or 15mm.

Back to the top of the page.

Strap Thickness

Each strap is each made of double sided leather, that is a leather outer piece and leather lining, glued flesh sides together with the top or outer surfaces of the leather on the outside of both sides. These are then stitched all the way round.

Why do we do this? Raw leather has two sides, an outer side where the hair or fur was, which is called the "grain" side, and an inner side which is called the flesh side for obvious reasons. The grain side has close knit fibres and is dense and strong, but as you move through the leather towards the flesh side the fibre structure gets progressively looser and leather made from this is weaker.

As it comes to the tannery the raw hide is very thick and the hides are split before tanning to make them thinner. The grain side leather is what we want for watch straps, the layers of flesh side leather that are split off from the grain side are used for less demanding applications where strength is not important, such as suede.

Leather from the tannery is often too thick to be used to make watch straps and is further split or "skived" down to a usable thickness. Skiving is the term used in the leather industry for shaving down the thickness of the leather. So yes, the leather industry does employ professional skivers!

To make a watch strap that is as strong and durable as possible, yet still flexible so that it is comfortable to wear, we use two pieces of the grain side leather. These are glued back to back before being cut into the strap parts using press cutting knives as I describe above. They are then stitched all round. The stitching stops the two parts from separating, and also helps to make the finished strap stronger, with less "stretch". The minimum thickness that hide can be reduced to and still retain useful strength is about 1mm, so the thickness of a finished double sided leather strap is about 2mm.

If the lugs on your watch are very close to the case, less than 2mm gap, then let me know. Sometimes it is possible to skive the leather down further to make it thinner. However, skiving the leather much more than normal will make it more stretchy it and won't be as durable or last as long as the standard thickness and I am very reluctant to do this apart from exceptional cases.

Making the strap thinner is also not the answer if the lugs of your watch, or the shape of the case, means that the leather has to make very tight bends that a normal thickness strap will not make - please read the section about this "One Piece Strap for Fixed Wire Lugs" above.

Single Thickness Leather

A leather strap made from a single piece of leather is either very thick or it is thin and weak; and if it is made very thin, then it is very weak. You will see straps like this advertised as being "soft" and "flexible", which is true; but for some reason they don't say that it is "floppy" or "weak".

I prefer to supply leather straps that will last, which means made in the traditional way, from two pieces of leather glued back to back and stitched all round. I have in the past, against my better judgement, supplied straps made from a single thickness of leather, but due to general customer dissatisfaction with these I will not supply any more; as an engineer by training, experience and at heart, I prefer things made in a way that I feel comfortable with.

Back to the top of the page.

Leather types, finishes, colours etc.

All my straps are made of the best quality leather I can find. They are double sided, meaning that the outer part is leather and the lining is leather. The lining may be made from leather left over from other jobs, but as it is not seen I don't think this matters, it is still full grain leather, not a composite or synthetic.

There used to be lots of suppliers of raw leather in the UK but over the years these have dwindled and the choice is now much reduced. This problem is compounded by the fact that I don't use a huge square footage of leather, unlike a shoe factory or furniture maker for instance, so I can't order special batches of leather in a one-off finish or colour that I want - the tanneries are only interested in specially processing large orders of hundreds of square feet. It is a constant struggle to find suitable leather, the main problem is getting leather split to the 1 mm or so that is needed for watch straps. The problem is that the merchants often can't split the hides from the raw 5mm or so that they come from the tannery, and the workshop can't skive the unsplit leather because it's too thick for the skiving machine.

Type A straps with Great War sterling silver buckles
Type A straps with Great War sterling silver buckles
Click image to enlarge

Leather colours

The picture here shows most of the basic leather colours that I use for the straps that I keep in stock.

The colours illustrated in the picture of the Type A straps to the right are;

There are more pictures that give views of the leathers made up into different straps and on customers watches on the pictures and customers watches page (click on the links to open the pages).

Please bear in mind that it is difficult to get good colour reproduction on computer screens, but if you have a look at a few pictures, here and on the other pages, you will get a better feel for the actual colours.

Samples and straps in brandy and dark chestnut
Click image to enlarge

This photograph shows Type B and Type A straps in brandy and dark chestnut, both with my hand made sterling silver buckles, on small samples of the hides, to give you a different view of the two colours. These are some beautiful Italian leathers that I have only recently sourced. They are much more expensive than the standard leathers but at the moment I am not charging a premium for them.

The colour can vary across each hide, and it is always difficult to get a good colour representation on a computer monitor, but these are high quality leathers with beautiful rich colours.

Dark blue leather

Alternative tan leathers
Click image to enlarge

The next picture shows some alternative tan leathers, at the top a traditional London tan, at the bottom a tan with a "Montana" grain.

The next picture is of a classy dark blue leather. It's rather difficult to photograph dark colours well but this gives you an idea of the colour, the actual shade is a little darker in practice. If you want a dark blue, this is a nice one. If you want to see it on a 1915 Omega wristwatch, go to the customers page and search for Nori.

Wilder colours

If you want a colour I haven't illustrated, please ask - I can supply green, red, yellow, blue, white etc. as well as metallics. I have supplied straps in dark green, yellow, silver, etc. The pictures below show straps made in green, yellow, red and white.

I have included the white G10 strap not because I don't think you know what white looks like, but because when a customer asked me to make one for his girlfriend I was rather sceptical how it would look. In fact it turned out very nicely, as you can see.

If you click on the images, larger versions will pop up. These pictures give you an idea of just some of the different colours that I can supply.

Colour Fidelity

Please bear in mind that because leather is a natural material, not only does colour vary from hide to hide, it even varies across a single hide depending on the way it takes up the dye. It also is very difficult to get an accurate colour reproduction using a digital camera and also on a computer screen. Because of this the colours shown in these pictures must be taken as a guide rather than an absolute reference. But I only use top quality leathers and "nice" colours, so I am sure that you won't be disappointed with the colour when it arrives.

Shell Cordovan Leather

I occasionally get asked about shell cordovan leather. I have never yet found any shell cordovan that is suitable to be made into watch straps. I have investigated sources of shell cordovan and in my experience it is usually made to be used for saddles and bridles. This is much too thick to be used for my watch straps, and it is a very tough leather that is not easy to skive down. It is also "hot stuffed" with heavy wax (basically it is boiled in wax) to make it durable under outdoor weather conditions. This gives it a very heavy waxy finish which, in my opinion, makes it unattractive to look at and to wear. I am not sure why shell cordovan is as desired as it appears to be, if someone could enlighten me I would be most grateful.

Back to the top of the page.


Standard buckles

White metal buckles (usually chromium plated) are fitted to my stock straps and as standard. I try to use buckles that look correct for the period, but in the small sizes there is often not much choice available. As far as I am aware no one in the UK makes these so the ones on my straps come from Germany. The supplier we used to get the buckles shown in most of the pictures no longer makes them, so the current design is slightly different, but still period looking.

Replica and original 1918 Sterling silver buckles

Gold / yellow coloured metal buckles to go with watches with gold cases can be supplied as special orders at no extra cost. I can't currently supply solid gold buckles, but if you know of a source for these, please let me know. I don't keep straps with gold buckles made up because there are nothing like as many gold watches as silver due to the great melting of cases for their bullion that has happened over the years. Original Swiss records show that the number of gold and silver cases manufactured was roughly the same, whereas today gold cases from the era of the Great War are very rare compared to silver; a great shame.

Hand made and English hallmarked sterling silver buckles

To further improve the authenticity of my replica Great War straps I am now offering them with hand made solid sterling silver (925) reproduction buckles. My first attempt at copying an original Sterling silver buckle was done by entirely by hand and eye, and I soon realised that it was not easy to make neat and consistent bends, so I designed a small machine to make the bends neatly and the production versions are better, rather better than the original I like to think, although they still look hand made and authentically "artisan". The picture shows one of my buckles in the foreground, with the original I copied it from behind.

The first buckle I copied has London Assay Office hallmarks for 1918. This type of buckle was used both before and all throughout the Great War of 1914-18. My Sterling silver buckles are also hallmarked by the London Assay Office, with a full set of traditional hand punched English hallmarks including the leopards head of London and the walking lion or lion passant of sterling silver, just like the original. The only change is that the fineness .925 is struck in addition to the walking lion.

Straps with with my hand made and English hallmarked sterling silver buckles are available to order from my Period Replica Buckles page.

Back to the top of the page.

Contrast Stitching

Contrast stitching works quite well, although bear in mind that the stitches on my straps are small machine made stitches. See below for why I can't supply straps with big stitches

White looks very good with black, and red with brown. The workshop has most colours, but do ask if there is a colour combination you particularly want.

Because Type A, B or C straps with coloured stitching must be specially made, please email me for details of how to order one.

Big Stitches

My straps are machine stitched which produces fairly small but neat and even stitches. Big stitches made with heavy gauge thread are made either by a special purpose machine, which we don't have, or more usually be done by hand sowing, which would be expensive if done in the UK. Hand stitching also requires extra punches in the cutters used to cut the strap parts, so that all the holes for the stitches are cut out at the same time as the leather parts are cut out from the hide - which my cutters don't have. So I can't supply straps with big stitches.

Back to the top of the page.

How to Order

Details of how to order can be found on the Ordering page.

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me via my Contact me page.

Fitting One Piece Straps

Fitting a leather strap to a modern watch that was not specifically designed to take a leather strap can be a bit tricky, Some modern watches have a narrow gap between the bars and the body which, although wide enough to take a leather strap, can make fitting difficult but not impossible. This is usually because the location of the lugs and the shape of the case makes the strap take a sharp bend to turn across the back of the case. Because modern watches are not designed with leather straps in mind the watch case can also have sharp edges that can damage the leather as you pull it through if you are not careful.

One of my customers had some problems fitting a G10 strap because his watch has quite a narrow gap between the bars and the body. You can see the notes by Mike about how he tackled this here: Fitting a leather NATO G10, but basically he wrapped the strap in aluminium foil which enabled him to slide it through the bars without damage.

I gave this a bit of thought and realised that using a piece of plastic film, e.g. a piece cut from a carrier bag, would be better. Simply cut a strip of plastic just over twice the width of your strap from a carrier bag and wrap this around the strap and secure with sticky tape. Leave a couple of inches of plastic surplus at the end of the strap as a "leader" and feed this through the lugs. Because it doesn't have the strap in it it will go through easily. You can then use the leader to pull the rest of the plastic containing the strap through the lugs. After the strap is in place, just hold the buckle end of the strap and gently pull the plastic out.

You can use this technique to fit a one piece leather strap or a leather NATO G10 to a modern watch easily, and without damaging the surface finish of the leather.

Back to the top of the page.

NATO G10 Leather Strap

If you are interested in a leather version of the NATO G10 strap, they are now on a separate page: NATO G10.

"Bund Style" Straps

Bund Style Strap
"Bund Style" Type B back pad with Open Ended Strap

If you have a modern watch with fixed bars or spring bars, it is quite likely that my standard one-piece strap won't fit between the bars and the case. My standard straps are about 2mm thick, but it is not just the thickness of the leather that can be the problem, it is the actual placement of the bars on the case, designed to take a strap that terminates on the bars, not one that wraps through the bars and across the back of the case. Great War era watches with wire lugs and later Military Standard (MilStan) watches with fixed bars have a larger gap between the lugs/bars and the case to allow for a one piece strap. If your watch has a narrow gap between the bars and the case, then I can supply to special order "bund style" variations of my standard straps.

The "bund style" strap consists of a standard back pad with a two piece "open ended" strap which fits directly onto the bars of your watch, rather than looping through them. The two piece strap is open ended, which means that the ends of the strap are not stitched together. You wrap the ends of the straps around the bars of your watch, and then fix them together with metal tabs that are stitched into the straps. The picture shows a Type B back pad with this type of strap, the inset showing how it attaches to the spring bars. I supply open ended straps even if your watch has spring bars because the normal strap ends that take spring bars are a struggle to pull through the slots in the back pads. Open ended straps are quite easy to fit, and very secure.

"Bund Style" straps like this can be made with either the Type A, Type B or Type C back pads, but only in standard or longer lengths because of the problem of fitting the straps to the watch in anything shorter than standard length. If you wrist measures less than 180mm or 7" around, please see the straps for smaller wrists below, which can also be made bund-style.

Please note that I can only supply straps in even sizes, that is even numbers of millimetres i.e. 10mm, 12mm, 14mm etc.

If you need a bund-style strap, it will be made specially for you because I don't keep these in stock. Please drop me an email and I will sort out the details with you and send you a link so that you can place your order.

Actual bund straps

Actual bund straps, like those issued to the German armed forces, have a short back pad that is only slightly larger than the back of the watch case. These might look OK with a modern width strap, but I personally don't like them. If the strap is wide enough to look OK without a back pad, then I don't see the point; if the strap is a narrow vintage strap, 10, 12 or 14mm, then with a short back pad it looks nearly as bad as the strap on its own. When I was searching for a strap for my grandfather's watch I was sold a narrow strap with a short bund back pad like this: it looked terrible.

I don't supply actual bund straps with short back pads, I don't have the cutters to make them. When I say "bund style" I mean an open ended strap on one of my designs of back pad, as shown in the picture.

Back to the top of the page.

Open ended straps
Open ended straps

Two Piece Open Ended and Closed End Straps

Two piece straps are different from my usual vintage straps in that they fit without the strap crossing the back of the watch case. They are more suited to watches with horns and bars rather than fixed wire lugs.

Two piece open ended straps will fit any case with either fixed bars or spring bars. The strap is supplied in two pieces with open ends that wrap around the bars and are then fixed together with a "tin tab". See the section above on "Bund "Style" straps for a more detailed description of how these are fitted.

I can also supply two piece straps with closed ends that are suitable for spring bars.

Two piece open end or closed end straight (parallel sided) straps are available in widths from 8mm to 24mm in 2mm increments in any length and in your choice of leather colour. Buckles are silver coloured as standard, you may specify a gold coloured buckle with your order at no extra cost.

Because of the difficulty of sourcing and stocking metal keepers in every possible size these straps will usually be supplied with leather keepers - either angled as shown in the picture or straight, let me know which you prefer. If you particularly want a metal keeper, then please inquire about availability before ordering.

I don't keep these in stock but you can place an order for one to be made on the ordering page using this link: Order two piece strap.

I can also supply two piece open end or closed end straps with tapered sides in 1mm increments from 6mm to 24mm, but only in standard length.

Back to the top of the page.

Straps for Smaller Wrists

Small Back Pads
Shorter Back Pads: Type BS top, AS bottom

The back pads of the Type A, B and C designs are 165mm or 6½" long. These fit OK on a wrist that measures 6½" or even slightly less around because when you wrap the strap around the wrist the strap travels a little more than 6½" inches and so the ends don't meet, but if your wrist measures significantly less than 6½" or 165mm around, then the standard back pads will be too long. (Unless you are happy for the ends of the back pad to overlap.)

I have two designs of shorter back pad which are suitable for smaller wrists, straight or flared as shown in the picture. The back pads are both about 135mm long.

These back pads can be made up with either my standard one piece pull-through strap for vintage wire lug timepieces, or with an open ended strap "bund style" as described above for more modern timepieces with horns and bars.

If you need one of these straps, it will be made specially for you so you can have it made in whatever colour and strap width (within reason) you wish. Please drop me an email and I send you a link to a page where you can place your order.

Back to the top of the page.

Cushion case
Cushion case wristwatch

Cushion Cases

Cushion cased watches and watches with lugs that are nearly as wide as the case are difficult to fit with back pads. The problem is that the lugs are usually almost as wide as the watch case, so you either end up with a strap that is almost as wide as the back pad, or a back pad that is very much wider than the watch. The picture here gives you an idea of what I am talking about, the lug width is 20mm and the case at its widest point is 31mm, difference 11mm of 5½mm per side.

I sometimes have customers who want one of my straps with 16mm or 18mm back pads but they don't like the boldness of the Type B or Type C designs so they want a Type A design. I did once make a Type A with an 18mm strap, which left only a 4mm width of back pad showing either side of the strap. To me this looked wrong, as do Type A designs with 16mm straps, which leave a 5mm width of back pad showing either side of the strap. This is why I say that the maximum width of strap for the Type A design is 14mm, which leaves a 6mm width of back pad showing.

So, to look right I think that the back pad needs to be at least 12mm wider than the strap, and preferably more. With the cushion cased watch shown here that means a minimum back pad width of 32mm, just about the same as the width of the case. The nearest cutter that I have is for the Type C back pad which is 31mm and that would just about work with a 20mm strap for this watch, but I would really prefer an extra millimetre or two on the back pad width. I do have a wider cutter of 38mm but that would be too wide in my view.

Despite the relatively large width of their lugs, cushion cased watches are often quite small, which was the fashion at the time they were made. There is a natural tendency to think that a strap with a back pad might make the watch "look" larger, which is more fashionable today. However, if you are thinking along these lines you might want to first try a mock up to demonstrate how it would look, because sometimes a small watch on a big back pad can look like . . . . well; like a small watch on a big strap.

Cushion cased watches usually have 16mm, 18mm or wider lugs and would originally have been fitted with a "normal" strap without a back pad, and a strap of that width generally looks and feels fine so that is what I usually recommend you use for a cushion cased watch.

There is an the added difficulty if the watch has curved bars, which are also usually close to the case. The problem with curved bars is that they cause a stress concentration at the edges of the leather which can easily make it split. If the leather also has to be thin to pass between the bar and the case, then this makes the problem worse, because the thinner leather is also weaker. Watch like this are often fitted with open ended straps, the type where one thickness of leather wraps around the lugs and is then fastened together with a tin tab or glue, but the single thickness of leather makes worse the problem of stress at the edge of the leather and I wouldn't want to wear a watch like that because of the danger of the leather tearing at the lug and the watch being dropped or lost.

Back to the top of the page.

Pocket Watch Wrist Strap
Wristlet strap for pocket watch

Wristlets: wrist straps for pocket watches, and why I don't supply them

I have occasionally been asked if I can supply wristlets or wrist straps for pocket watches like the one referred to on the History page and used by the Captain in the North Staffordshire Regiment. At the moment I have nothing like this available.

There are now some of this type of strap becoming available on the market. All the ones that I have seen are hand cut and stitched, and the resulting straps are bulky and not well shaped. If I do make a replica it will not be like those but would be properly made in the same way as my other straps, the leather press cut and machine stitched so that the resulting strap is flexible and comfortable but still strong, and an accurate replica of the strap made by the Garstin company shown in the picture here.

I would need to get at least two new cutters made, to cut out the pieces of the strap, and a mould to form the cup. This would be quite a capital investment as the cutters and mould would be expensive to make.

I would also need to know how to stiffen the leather so that the cup retains its shape. There are various articles on the web about this, in particular the technique of "cuir bouilli" or boiled leather, which was used to make medieval armour. However, I have never used this and the articles available are not consistent in their recommendations, some say to use just water, others say to use oils or waxes, others animal urine. I would need to spend some time experimenting with the technique to ensure good and consistent results.

The workshop have also told me that they can't do the stitching around the cup where it attaches to the wrist strap. This stitching is very close to the cup and needs a sewing machine with an exceptionally narrow foot, which they don't have.

So I would need to get at least two cutters and a mould made, spend time experimenting with leather stiffening, and modify or purchase a sewing machine. I might do this at sometime in the future but at the moment I am not working on this, and I am not even planning to start work on it. If this situation changes I will update this paragraph with details.

Back to the top of the page.

Wristwatch straps with covers

I don't make straps with covers. I do get asked for them occasionally, but to make one of an acceptable quality would not be easy, rather like making the wristlets for wearing pocket watches discussed above, the main problem is forming and stiffening the cup part so that it retains its shape, and stitching it to the strap. I have seen some replica straps like this with the cup just pressed into an ordinary piece of leather, without any stiffening or reinforcing so the cup is soft and flexible. I don't think they are an acceptable standard of design or appearance.

I am also not keen on straps with covers over the watch for two reasons:

  1. The purpose of wearing a wristwatch was to make it quick and easy to read without using both hands, but a strap with a cover needs you to fiddle about with both hands every time you want to read the time; this defeats the object of wearing a wristwatch in the first place.
  2. If you have a nice vintage wristwatch, why hide it under a cup rather than showing it off?

Wrist Compass Straps

The Type B strap without the winding crown notch works very well for World War One era wrist compasses. You can see a wrist compass fitted to the strap on the customers' watches pictures page.

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me via my Contact me page. Back to the top of the page.

Copyright © Eur Ing David Boettcher 2006 - 2015 all rights reserved. Copyright © Notice. This page updated August 2015. W3CMVS.