I wanted to take a moment to give a mention to something that I think hasn’t been getting the discussion and airplay it deserves lately: Jürgen’s Custom Vintage Leather Straps.
For those who might not already know, Jürgen Hauff is a Germany-based strap maker, watch designer, and vintage watch restorer located in the traditional watchmaking region of Pforzheim who makes his high-quality watch straps in a variety of styles, especially well known for his vintage and military-style straps.
Custom-made straps from brick-and-mortar retailers typically cost hundreds of dollars; for what you actually get from Jürgen these are a complete steal. Not only are they made exactly according to the customer’s specification with a variety of options not offered by other makers, but they offer an aspect which is to my knowledge wholly and completely unique in the field: they are be made from actual vintage leather!
The best parts of the vintage leather skin are carefully scraped and conditioned and used for the outer layer. An anti-stretch inner liner sheet and new leather or rubber for the inside complete the construction according to EU and German specifications for watch straps. For instance, the strap shown above on one of my Omega “US Army” watches from the WWII-era used to be part of one of these in its previous life, a 1940s vintage US pilot’s jacket:
The appearance of the leather is striking – well-weathered and worn-in, soft and supple. A benefit of the vintage leather is that it’s already broken in, as it’s one of very few straps I’ve owned that is very comfortable right off the line.
Jürgen offers an almost dizzying variety of custom options to the customer including the material, lug and taper dimensions, length, padding, stitching color, buckle material and style, liner material and even underside material.
Another Jürgen-unique option is the now-iconic “tropic” design, in which the underside is lined with rubber and a Gore-Tex-like inner liner material is used to guard the upper from moisture. This configuration addresses the primary threats to the longevity of any strap: skin oil and perspiration. With this setup it is impossible to “sweat through” the strap and endanger the leather, leading to better appearance in daily wear and overall longevity.
Jürgen offers a variety of vintage leather material for conversion into straps, including leather jackets, flight suits, belts, and even holsters of countries like the US, UK, Sweden, the DDR (East Germany), Czechoslovakia, and even the USSR:
Of additional note is that Jürgen includes a signed, stamped and dated warranty card for the 1-year warranty for the strap. I was just floored. So far as I’m aware this is the only strap I’ve ever bought that includes any warranty at all. Most watch manufacturers regard leather straps as “wear parts” designed, well, to wear out eventualy not unlike tires or wiper blades on cars. As such strict interpretations of most current manufacturer warranties (including Omega’s) don’t even cover the straps or bracelets on even new watches!
On occasion Jürgen can even take on custom projects. One of the most despicably cool projects I’ve seen was a set of straps made from the leather of an old vintage baseball mitt sent to Jürgen for dissection. Another well-known project made straps from a vintage US Navy goatskin aviator jacket.
For ordering information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.