How Long Do Leather Watch Straps Last?


You might be unsure on your watch straps, and are wondering if non metal straps such as leather can last long.

A leather watch strap generally lasts between 6-months to a lifetime, depending on quality, and how it is worn and cared for. By rotating straps, not wearing your strap too tight, as well as applying moisturizer will help your leather strap to last longer.

How Long Do Leather Watch Straps Last?

This article discusses how long do leather watch straps last and what we can do to take care of them better.

Types of Leather

Here’s a point – you cannot get cheap leather and expect it to last forever. It just does not work that way. 

The best leather tends to be the easiest to care for and last the longest. We suggest investing in leather watch straps made of full-grain or top-grain leather if you want the best result. 

Full-grain leather is the best, as they are the toughest and develop a patina with extended use. 

If you have a full-grain leather watch strap, it will look amazing over time. 

Top grain leathers work well, too, although it would not be as lovely as a full-grain leather watch strap. They are not as soft, and their patina is not as beautiful as full-grain leather. 

However, top-grain leathers have a more uniform look compared to full-grain leather. If you prefer this, a top grain leather watch strap is for you.

When possible, avoid genuine and bonded leather as they are essentially scraps of leather left over after full-grain, top-grain, and suede production. 

Watch straps from these leathers don’t last long too. This is because they are usually bonded together with glue. Some also have the leather’s top surface laminated with vinyl, or worse, plastics. 

When Should I Change My Leather Strap?

Change your watch leather strap at least once a few years. The idea is to allow the leather to ‘rest’ after a period of wear. 

However, there are no hard and fast rules on this, so go ahead and change your watch leather strap whenever you see fit.  

How To Make Your Leather Straps Last Longer?

As with all leather goods such as bags, shoes, or jackets, a leather watch strap needs to be cared for. 

If you do it well, your watch leather strap can pretty much last you a lifetime. Here are a few ways you can take care of your leather watch strap:

Rotate Your Straps

Your leather strap gets exposed to UV, use, and abuse while sitting on your wrist. 

It also is stressed from being stretched from daily wear. Think about you pulling, buckling, and folding the leather strap every time you put it on. 

By changing the leather strap frequently, the leather has a chance to rest and release the stress inside. This helps the leather to last longer. 

Consider keeping a few leather straps and rotating them once a few weeks for the best result. 

Use Clasps, Not Pin And Buckle

How Long Do Leather Watch Straps Last?

As mentioned beforehand, using a pin and buckle to fasten your strap to your wrist can stretch the leather at a focused point, the hole where the pin goes through. 

As a result, you will notice the hole enlarges or becomes deformed over time. 

Worse, the leather padding inside the strap frays, ruining the strap’s aesthetics.

Switching to a clasp type puts the stress not on the leather but on the metal clasp itself. 

Metal is more stress-resistant and deforms less than leather, so it will protect your leather strap over time. 

Almost all leather straps can have metal clasps installed on them. Just shop for a leather strap with clasps, or take your current leather strap to a watchmaker and ask for help. 

Moisturise

Leather is essentially skin. It keeps oil and moisture to remain supple and soft to the touch. 

Dried leather becomes brittle and cracks easily when folded. It also tends to peel off when rubbed on. Therefore you must moisturize your leather strap once a few months to ensure it has all the moisture it needs.

After cleaning your watch strap, dry it and apply leather conditioning cream to protect it. These creams usually have natural oils to moisturize the leather and UV protection to protect it from the sun. 

Good leather conditioners will also have a bit of wax for further protection against the elements. 

If you prefer to stay natural and not use conditioning creams with chemicals, you can apply raw shea butter to achieve the same effect as leather conditioning cream. 

They are probably more expensive, but you only need very little shea butter for your watch strap. A small jar of shea butter might last you years.

Do Not Wear Your Watch Too Tight

Finally, do not wear your watch too tight. 

This goes back to the idea that wearing your watch tight adds extra stress to your watch strap and will stretch and disfigure the holes on your strap. 

Plus, when too tight, the leather is in very close contact with skin, which means it will absorb all the sweat you make, as well as take up dead skin cells. 

These are why some leather watch straps smell and show discoloration after some time. 

ALSO READ: How Tight Should You Wear Your Watch?

How To Clean and Maintain Your Leather Strap

Now that we have talked about taking care of your watch strap let’s talk about the essential part of that, cleaning it. 

How Long Do Leather Watch Straps Last?

To clean and condition your watch strap, you will need:

  1. Toothbrush
  2. Microfibre cloth
  3. Leather soap
  4. Leather conditioner
  5. Nitrile gloves if you want to keep your skin away from the soap and moisturizer creams. 

Got it all ready? Let’s go and clean the leather straps up.

  1. Take off your leather watch strap from your watch.
  2. Use a damp microfibre cloth and gently wipe away any surface dirt or grime on the strap. Avoid a wet cloth, as leather absorbs water and can be damaged that way. 
  3. With a toothbrush, gently clean the strap. Use leather soap and a little bit of water to do this. Use gentle, circular movements.
  4. Wipe down excess soap with the damp microfiber cloth. 
  5. Let the strap sit in an open, airy area overnight to dry up and relax. 
  6. Recondition the leather with your conditioner of choice – we recommend Sapphire Renovator leather conditioner, or if you want to go natural, raw shea butter is also a good choice.
  7. Put a little conditioner on your finger, and slowly massage the conditioners into the leather. Use a circular motion with a little bit of pressure as you do this. 
  8. If the leather is dry, you will notice the conditioner gets absorbed very fast. Continue to add conditioner until the leather is soft and supple.
  9. Wipe down excess conditioned with a damp microfiber cloth. 
  10. Let the strap sit in an open, airy area to dry up and relax. Once done, keep in a dry and cool place, away from the sun. 

ALSO READ: How To Create New Holes On Your Leather Watch Strap

Wrapping Up

To sum up, the things to consider to be able to have a beautiful watch strap that lasts long is to: 

First, purchase straps made of the right kind of leather. Full or top-grain leather preferred.

Next is to practice steps to ensure the strap’s longevity, such as cleaning, rotating, and moisturizing the straps frequently. It is also good not to stretch the straps by wearing them too tight. 

Do you have leather watch straps? How was your experience wearing and caring for them? Feel free to leave comments below, and let’s interact!

Nigel Ignatius

Nigel is the principal creator of WatchPursuits.com, a website dedicated to watches. Inspired by the dedication and effort of watchmakers now and old, Nigel has a passion for watches and looks forward to share his passion with the world.

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