One of the main issues with the leather straps is that it wears off with time. Although the life expectancy of leather watch depends on ‘how’ and ‘where’ the watch was worn, it would eventually succumb to wear and tear within certain months.
Many of us prefer having leather straps over the metal bracelets – mainly because of the premium looks and comfortable feel. However, it comes with one big disadvantage of wearing over time.
Indeed, you’d want to know the tips and tricks on how do you maintain a leather watch strap, wouldn’t you?
As you can guess, there are many factors in play here, like – type and quality of the strap, body chemistry, climate of your location, and of course, your maintenance skills.
I’m sure you have some questions on your mind already.
I get it!
Here’s the good news – I’ll try to answer all the important questions regarding how to maintain a leather watch strap.
Let’s hop on!
Do Leather Watch Bands Wear Out?
Like I said earlier, your leather straps are not invulnerable. Even the most expensive ones wear off with time!
The premium options certainly last longer than the cheap ones you find on the watch kiosks around the street. Also, you should beware of buying extremely cheap leather straps at these kiosks. Often times, you’d get faux/ synthetic leather strap instead of the real ones from there.
As for the genuine leather straps, it lasts longer in the moist climates. After all, leather products are essentially animal skins cured in various ways.
If you live in an area where the climate is mostly dry, you should use moisturizing agents – e.g., olive oil, to soften up your leather strap. You can also use commercial leather conditioners to soften up your leather watch straps.
Among all types of leathers, the bonded leather straps are more prone to cracking and peeling. Bonded leathers are made of scraps of recycled leather that are bonded together with adhesive.
Manufacturers often use the bonded leather over a polyurethane (PU) base to develop cheaper leather straps. In this way, they can market their watch straps as ‘genuine leather’ at a competitive price point.
While you’re buying a leather strap for your watch, try going for the ‘top grain’ or ‘full-grain’ leather. These are high-quality leathers that last for a long time and offer more comfort.
Of course, if you have the budget, you can get yourself the top-shelf leather options – e.g., crocodile, alligator, Hornback Caiman.
Not only these leathers offer exotic and elegant looks, but they also are the most durable leather options. With proper care, these leather straps should last for decades (depending on your usage style).
How Long Does Leather Strap Last?
A leather watch strap should be fine for about 18 months.
Of course, this lifespan is dependent on a number of factors. Surely, you have some control over some of the factors, while some are completely out of your hand.
For example, in a humid climate, you’d sweat a lot, and your leather watch strap will soak up the sweat. The sweat hardens the strap and eventually makes it brittle.
Similarly, rain makes the leather straps stiff and brittle. So, your ‘waterproof watch’ would survive in the rainwater but not the leather strap.
Water and sweat drastically shorten the lifespan of your leather watch strap.
Also, your leather watch strap will get frayed and scuffed up with heavy usage. If you want to preserve the leather strap’s quality and longevity, you shouldn’t wear it more than two times a week.
I would suggest you stick to a nylon (NATO or Zulu) strap, resin strap, or a metal bracelet for your daily driver.
And, if you’re determined to wear a leather strap on a daily basis, you should have multiple straps for one watch. That way, you can alternate the straps to reduce the strain.
Like I said earlier, alligator or crocodile straps are expensive but last longer than regular cowhide leather. Such exotic leathers should last over five years with proper care, sometimes for a decade!
Also, using deployant clasps instead of tang and buckle clasps increases lifespan drastically. A leather strap paired with a deployant clasp should last for over two years.
While shopping for leather straps, go for branded options. This statement stands true for both the dedicated strap manufacturers (OEMs) or well-known watchmakers.
Certainly, the leather strap of an Omega watch will last longer than those of the non-branded Chinses watches.
Put your faith in the brand value.
How Do You Maintain A Leather Watch Strap?
At the end of the day, the durability of the leather watch straps come down to your maintenance skills. It goes without saying that a non-branded leather strap will last longer than a branded strap with adequate care.
So, how do you maintain a leather watch strap?
Follow these tips to increase the durability of your leather watch strap –
Clean It, Regularly!
The best way to increase the lifespan of any object is to clean it regularly. Dust can severely damage the leather straps.
But how do you clean it?
Throw it in the soapy water?
Take a soft piece of cloth (microfiber preferably) and soak it in cold water. Now, gently brush it through with a straight stroke. Don’t scuff too much and never use hot water.
As soon as you clear off the dust, wipe the strap with a soft, dry cloth or microfiber. Don’t use any source of heat to quicken the drying process.
Polish It Up!
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous (cleaning) one. As you wipe your leather strap with water, it gets stiffer. This increased stiffness might rip the leather off!
So, whenever you use the water-wiping strategy or if the strap feels stiff, you should use leather polishing creams.
These creams soften up the leather and add shine to it. It’s a great way to give your watch straps a ‘brand-new’ look!
But make use the use only ‘color-neutral’ creams. You’ll get a horrible result if you use black polishing cream on your brown leather strap.
If you don’t have a commercial polishing cream at your disposal, you can use natural solutions. For example, olive oil can be a great option here.
Don’t Go the Super-Tight Fitting
I often see people going for the extra tight-fitting with their leather straps. Sure, it guarantees the watch face to stay in the exact place but causes harm in two ways –
- Disturbs the blood circulation
- Puts extra stress on the leather
I’d suggest you going for a slightly looser fit where the watch-face stays in a fixed spot without putting too much strain on the strap.
I know that you often struggle between the ‘too-loose’ and ‘too-tight’ buckle holes. In that case, you can adjust the effective length of the strap.
Have Multiple Straps for One Watch
This is the best way to rock the ‘leather look’ on a daily basis! Just have multiple leather straps for your daily driver watch.
You can be more fashionable with a changing look every other day. Also, your straps will not get too stressed up.
Pair It with a Deployant Clasp
Deployant clasps are mostly seen with the metal bracelets. Some luxury brands use deployant clasps for their leather straps too.
But the having a tang & buckle clasp for the leather straps is the industry norm.
Now, if your leather watch comes with a tang & buckle clasp, simply replace it with a high-quality deployant clasp. These clasps don’t put as much strain as the tang & buckle variants.
This way, you can enjoy the elegance of the deployant clasps while ensuring longer durability for the strap.
A win-win situation!
More: Check our guide to How to Remove Watch Crystal? The Step-By-Step Guide here
Don’t Use It as Your Daily Driver
Leather straps are mostly used in luxury watches.
Because people don’t usually use luxury watches as their daily drivers. Also, leather straps wear off after prolonged usage. That’s why leather straps are the perfect partner for luxury watches.
Now, let’s face the sad fact – you should NOT use your favorite watch strap as a daily driver.
Try switching to metal, nylon, resin, and PU alternates instead.
There’s no doubt that leather straps offer the highest level of elegance. Yes, they’re not the most durable options out there, but you can be a bit more proactive; you too can rock the elegant every single day.
I hope you found your answers regarding the average life expectancy of leather strap and how do you maintain a leather strap.
If you have further questions about leather straps, just ping me here in the comment section.
I’ll try my best to solve your issues!