Before we get started in this review, let me begin by saying I paid for these straps with my own money. All the thoughts I share in this article are independent without any outside influence. It’s important to outline these things as the line between journalism and marketing is finer than ever in the watch community today. Anyway, let’s get to it!
Artisan Straps is a fellow Aussie who has taken his leather crafting skills to the watch world with the goal of offering premium straps at an affordable price. The founder, Jayson, crafts all products by hand, whether it be a stock ready accessory or made to order pieces. Artisan straps has seen strong growth in Australia, with more and more enthusiasts adorning their timepieces with straps made by the Sydney based brand.
I opted to purchase Epsom Calf leather straps in navy for my father’s Grand Seiko and tan for my King Seiko. Epsom leather has become extremely popular with its ability to make dressy timepieces more approachable with day to day attire, while still retaining that classy feel that can match a suit (or dress) should you want to.
Some time ago, I purchased a strap from Jayson just as his brand was starting to get some momentum. While overall the product was nice, it did leave some room for improvement and I was intrigued to see if any changes had been made since.
After unwrapping the straps, the colour and quality of the Epsom calf is immediately on display with the leather coming from the same tanneries used by popular luxury brands. The colour of the navy and tan exteriors are rich and uniform, with the pressed texture executed to a high standard. An embossed logo is imposed upon the zermatt leather lining, with zermatt leather being my favourite material for this application and a leather used by many popular strap makers on the market today. A crisp white thread binds the leathers together and offers a fantastic contrast to the navy and tan colouration. Stitch pattern is accurate and parallel on each flank, with no fraying in sight. The painted edges are finished splendidly, without blemish and accurately matching the colour of the leather. Quick release spring bars accompany and a modest spoon shaped tang buckle to round off the componentry. This particular style of buckle is very understated and a design that I have not seen elsewhere on the market. In application, it assists the curvature of the strap when secured to the wrist while ensuring focus is not taken away from the timepiece. There is nothing worse when a leather strap comes with large, gaudy hardware that distracts you from the main event or impinges on comfort. The Artisan Straps logo is etched on the inside of the buckle which I appreciate immensely. It’s a very nice touch which will suit collectors who don’t want a mismatch of signatures between timepiece and strap while adorning the maker’s mark. The discrete nature of Artisan’s product is a strength of the craftsman, letting the strap do all the talking. As a handcrafted accessory the execution is impressive which leaves no room for wanting, particularly at the price point.
Beyond its aesthetics, the calf leather strap is supremely comfortable on the wrist with next to no break in time required. The leather is supple and pliable, with the thickness of the strap sitting right in the sweet spot. Not too thin to be considered delicate, yet not too thick to feel cumbersome or bulky on the wrist. As with any zermatt lining the durability is superb, capable of enduring regular daily wear without perishing. Same can be said for the calf exterior, with the high grade leather retaining its finish and not succumbing to the surrounding climate even after extended wear.
Putting artisan in Artisan Straps, Jayson offers expansive customisation options when it comes to your leather accessory. From length, taper, stitch colour, material, spring bars, it’s all a blank canvas with room for creativity. I requested a longer length strap for my Dad’s Grand Seiko to accommodate his larger wrists, while retaining the traditional 20 to 16mm taper for comfort. Further, if you have an OEM buckle that you wish to continue using, all you have to do is take some measurements and Jayson will do the rest. All this flexibility in customisation ensures that you can create a product that best suits your application. Dress watch? Opt for a slimmer construction with an aggressive taper. Tool watch? Go for something that is a bit more substantial. We all know how much watches vary in their design and feel, it makes sense that an off the shelf product won’t be able to provide the same level of suitability as a made to order, customised product. If you enjoy the collaborative process with the craftsman and seeing your idea brought to life, the level of service provided by Jayson can be as hands on as you like. Being a DM away on instagram, if you have ideas, thoughts, queries or concerns, he will be able to address them in a way that strap distributors can’t. Artisan strap’s ability to cater to the collector, employ high grade leathers and offer a fantastic quality of finish makes them fantastic value in the bespoke strap market.
Would We Change Anything?
The product pictured in this review has been vastly refined since my initial purchase which currently offers an accessory and service that competes very well in this market segment, but how does it stack up against the top level strapmakers that have been around the block? There’s really only two places I can be extremely nit picky, potentially even borderline harsh. The first being the cut of the zermat interior closest to the lug being not as clean as it could be on the tan strap, however the navy was executed very well. The second being the finish surrounding stationary keeper. It’s not quite as neat when comparing it to the best out there, which can be accentuated after a long period of wear. Only minor details, but that’s how it goes when you’re splitting hairs comparing the best out there. However, these characteristics are very easy to accept when you consider the gulf in asking price of those at the pointy end of the market.
From the high quality leather finish, fantastic value and ability to create the perfect product for the customer, Artisan straps is a formidable destination if you are after a new accessory for your timepiece. It’s always nice to support local but with Jayson, no matter where you are in the world you can have a benevolent collaborative experience with the very individual who is creating a product specifically for you. I’ve spent my own money to purchase these straps and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again in future.