Leather Watch Strap Care 101



Caring for your watch strap

Caring for your watch strap is a little bit different than caring for other leather goods. You have to take a little extra care so you can get many years of use from it.


Here are a few tips for general handling of your leather watch strap to extend its life

1. When putting on or removing your watch strap, take care not to pull it excessively as this can and will stretch it out unnecessarily. Leather stretches, that's a fact, but pulling it hard can cause that to happen worse than normal.

2. When putting on or removing your watch strap, take care not to bend back your long strap when inserting the buckle tang into the buckle hole. This can and will crease your strap unnecessarily and can eventually lead to prematurely ruining your strap. Watch this video here to see the proper way to put on and remove your strap to extend its life.


Which Conditioner Should You Use

There are countless conditioning products on the market. We've used many, but only work with a few that are among the best. Take note that not all conditioners work the same way. Some are liquid and some more creamy or paste-like. Some do deeper conditioning and other are meant for lighter applications. One thing to consider when choosing a conditioner is how much it will darken your leather as some can darken certain leathers substantially. We recommend you always test your conditioner on a hidden part of your watch strap such as the underside to see what effect it will have on your strap. Keep in mind that your strap will look a little darker at first when you apply your conditioner, but most likely lighten a little as it dries.


Determining what kind of leather your watch strap is made of

Now let's get down to business. When you buy a strap from us, most likely it has already been treated with conditioner. We also use very high quality, waxy and naturally quite oily leathers to make our straps with. So they won't need any conditioning at all for a long time.

If you get to some point and think your strap is looking or feeling a bit dry, it may be time for some light conditioning. First decide what kind of leather your strap is made of. Is it oily/waxy feeling? Is it natural and un-dyed vegetable tanned leather? Is it made of suede?

-For waxy/oily types of leathers: These are usually naturally very oily and don't require much conditioning if any. If it's dry, then apply a little at a time. This is important, never apply tons of conditioner, as it's not good for your leather. Too much of it can actually cause rotting or moulding of the leather and the stitches. Too much conditioner on the thread can make it look ugly and when it dries some conditioners can leave a flaky white residue on the thread. So it's best to apply conditioner to your strap lightly by putting a little bit of conditioner on your fingers, and rubbing it on throughout the strap on both sides.

-Natural un-dyed vegetable tanned leather: This kind of leather gets conditioned the same way as the oily leathers being careful not to get too much conditioner in the thread or over doing it. As this type of leather starts out so light, it can darken substantially depending on the conditioner used. This often is the effect people look for when they purchase this kind of leather as it helps with creating a patina and the darkening process.

-Suede Leather is treated altogether different. Before we send suede straps to you, we lightly spray them with suede protectant. It helps protect the suede from exposure to water such as light rain and some mild dirt. Suede is very delicate and needs extra care when using to prevent premature damage. We recommend being careful when you use it and lightly spraying it with suede spray protectant every few months or so. If you do get a little dirt on it, it's best to use a soft clean toothbrush and lightly brush the nap at the dirty area to loosen up and remove dirty spots then re-spray it.


How to Condition Your Watch Strap

You can clean and condition your strap while it is still attached to your watch, but for a really thorough clean its best to remove your strap from your watch and remove the buckle as well. To remove any sweat or dirt from it, grab a soft fabric such as a t-shirt, dampen it with some warm water and wipe it gently. Next, dip into the tub of conditioner, rub a small amount of conditioner between your fingers and gently massage it in to your strap. Be careful not to get too much into the stitching as it can be hard to remove and depending on what conditioner you use, it may dry very flaky and will be hard to remove. Apply conditioner liberally to the sides of the strap and rub it in well. When you're done, let it sit and absorb for a few minutes. Lastly, gently wipe off any remaining conditioner from your strap with a soft cloth.

That’s it! Simple as that.

Recommended Conditioners

We are fans of the following three conditioners. Always test them in a hidden spot before applying to your leather.

Fiebings Mink Oil - A lovely light conditioning treatment with light water repellent properties and very minimal darkening of your leather. Smells great too.

Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP - This conditioner has light water repellent properties and darkens leather light color leather slightly. Smells lovely. 

Dubbin Neutral - Of these three, this one darkens the most and for heavy duty conditioning applications of very dried out leather. A little of this goes a long way.