Watch Strap Review 39. – Genteel Handmade Straps Create your own luxury strap with these guys. You won’t regret it. by Balazs FerencziFebruary 26, 2020 MIN READWatch Strap Review 39. – Genteel Handmade Straps
I started Watch Strap Review six years ago, soon after I joined Fratello.
I felt that we talk about watches a lot (duh) but some of the accessories surrounding them often do not get enough attention. We featured your occasional watch winder or a roll here and there. However, I thought that the most important accessory a watch should have is a great quality leather strap. We can all agree on the fact that a strap can make or break the look of a watch. Pair your steel sports watch with a quality leather strap and it will soften the look. Perhaps even make it dressier. Attach a sports strap to it and eventually, the piece you previously only paired with formalwear might turn into a casual watch. In the case of today’s brand, Genteel Handmade, we use the former idea to transform our watches from casual to classy timepieces.
A lot has happened since my first Watch Strap Review. Especially with the watch strap scene (if I can use this expression). Over the course of the last five-six years, I’ve seen many new manufactures opening up shop. The materials changed for the better too. The craftsmanship became more sophisticated. The straps brands offer have amazing quality and sometimes even made of leather that was previously the exclusive preserve of luxury houses like Hermès or Prada. Customization is not a unique feature anymore. On the contrary, most strap makers are happy to offer this to their customers. Some companies, like Genteel Handmade, developed this service to a perfection. Curious, I exchanged several emails with George, the man behind Genteel Handmade. He made sure that the straps we will feature in the article will be made to match my requests. I must say, his willingness to please simply amazed me.
I received three straps from Genteel Handmade, firstly we’ll look at the brown ostrich leg strap. This is one of the three main leather types on the site. The company offers three types of this product — padded, classic, or minimal stitching. I went with the latter. There is no padding or box stitching, just a 20/16mm strap with beige side stitching. Due to the unpadded design, the strap is only 2.3mm thick. This is ideal for a vintage watch with a smaller, thinner case. Ostrich leg leather has a cool pattern that is very different from, say, alligator or croc leather. The edges are painted, and the lining is a super soft vegetable-tanned leather. As an extra option, you could have your initials or a short phrase debossed on the underside. George graciously put my initials on each strap. This is perfect if you are buying the strap for someone — a small but personal touch.
Once you have chosen which style you want to go with, Genteel Handmade’s site gives you plenty of further options to choose from. In terms of leather, stitching or even lining there are 8+ colors. The strap length is also something you can determine and, of course, the lug width. I love a tapered strap, so I asked George to go with the slimmer 20/16mm option. However, if you like straighter straps you can go 20/18 or even 20/20. To make sure that the product will work right out of the box, every creation comes with a set of spring bars as a default. Since Genteel Handmade offers quick release spring bars, mine came with them. Buckles are not part of the standard offer but for a small amount, you can ask for steel or gold-plated ones. If you prefer a deployant that’s also an option.
Black Saffiano Goat
Another section on the Genteel Handmade site is for calf and goat watch straps. These leathers are probably less exotic, still, I managed to choose a rather fancy one — black Saffiano goat. In one of my earlier Watch Strap Reviews, I already talked about Saffiano. This is the leather that Prada uses, and it mostly comes from Italian tanneries. You can choose between six calf and goat strap styles. Other than the three we already talked about above, here you can have racing, double padded, or no stitching. I went with padded with matching black box stitching. There are also tons of colors to choose from. Just like before the lining is vegetable tanned leather with my initials and the Genteel Handmade logo. No quick release this time but deployant clasp. This is a very elegant strap with painted edges and one keeper. It works well on the Speedy, as you can see below.
Lastly, we arrive at the third major category of leathers that Genteel Handmade works with: Alligator. Here you choose the leather pattern, not the style. That comes in step two. We went with just plain alligator leather, although there is an option to go with alligator round scale leather — this is the skin that comes from the animal’s flank. The pattern here is smaller and round. If you choose just “normal” alligator leather, you can pick the classic or padded design. My strap is padded. Size-wise it’s 20/16mm again, just like the other two straps were. With padding, it is still only 5mm thick, a bit thicker than the 4.7mm padded Saffiano. I had 4 colors to choose from and I went with dark blue with matching blue box stitching. It’s worth to mention that the blue alligator leather is pretty dark as you can see in my photos.
All three straps came with the same vegetable-tanned lining and exactly the same logos and initials. With the alligator strap, Genteel Handmade added the quick release spring bars again. To provide longevity to the strap I received this one as well on a deployant clasp. Out of all three products, this is perhaps the most traditional in terms of look. the leather is soft, and the strap needs no break-in time at all. great even stitching and painted edges make this one worth every penny.
We talked about everything but the pricing. As you’d expect from handmade products made of exotic leather, the price needs to reflect that. For the ostrich leg, the amount is €180 for all types of straps. The calf or goat straps are between €140-150, mine was €140. If you consider ordering an alligator strap from Genteel Handmade you have to pay €310 for the regular version and €220 for the round scale straps. These prices are not cheap by any means, but you are not getting an average product either. An OEM exotic leather strap is around this amount, if not more, and those are not really customizable. Not to mention that here we are talking about handmade products, from a strap atelier paying attention to the smallest detail. From the packaging to the aftercare, Genteel Handmade ensures you will be 100% satisfied with the final product.
George is a Speedy guy (good for you, George). As such, most straps are modeled on his Speedmaster. They also make Omega-style deployant watch straps for all your fans out there. Sadly, I don’t own such a deployant, so I could not have a strap made for that. But if you have one, you might want to check out those products too. And while we’re talking about offers; the company has other accessories for your viewing pleasure. Cardholders that come in the same leathers as the straps are a lovely additional option. The Genteel Handmade website has a lot more to offer. The brand tells you how to take care of your leather products, gives you a peek inside its workshop, along with an extensive size guide for watch straps. All that’s left is for you to put an order through. If you wish to visit Genteel Handmade’s website, please follow this link.
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About the author
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up… read more
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