Exploring the Importance of the Watch Strap

Editor’s Note: If you’re a particular type of watch enthusiast, you might know Stephen Damico from his website, Strap Sense. Strap Sense is one of those little corners of watch enthusiasm that can only exist in a space filled with people who are truly passionate about their hobby. It’s a blog devoted entirely to strap reviews, with every bit as much attention and care paid to the intricacies of a strap as we pay to watches here on Worn & Wound. We love straps, and appreciate the huge variety of straps of all kinds that are out there to be mixed and match, and we’re excited that Stephen will occasionally be writing about some of the straps that are of most interest to him right here on these pages. Today, before any formal reviews, we asked Stephen to introduce himself, and tell us about why he feels the watch strap is worthy of such a close analysis. 

I have a saying I often use on my website that informs how I approach writing about straps: a watch strap tells the story wherein the watch is the main character.  

It is all about the story – it is who we are. Entire marketing campaigns are built around creating and curating a story, and we all wear watches to help tell our story. One day we can be a diver, another an astronaut, and by the weekend we are a super spy or royalty. Mark Twain once said, “I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.” There is nobody on earth more qualified to help you tell your story than you. Your timepiece, and therefore your watch strap is part of that. 


The watch strap frames the watch (both figuratively and literally) in a particular genre or setting. That genre can be active, modern, vintage, traditional, black tie, casual, or sporty. In much the same way the clothes make the man, the watch strap makes the watch. All watch straps use the tools of texture, color, material, size, and shape to set the stage, create a mood, and most importantly support the main character – the watch. A good watch strap selection should highlight the watch and help you to tell the story you want told. A glossy ostrich strap may provide a dressy touch with just a bit of exotic allure behind it, while a sail cloth watch strap is robust and impervious to moisture, daring the wearer to test its limits. An all-synthetic strap may suggest that this watch strap is tough so therefore I am the type of man or woman who needs a tough watch strap. 

Watches, like all worn things, allow us to present to the world a version of ourselves that is a reflection of who we want to be, or at the very least strive to emulate and incorporate into our own persona. These timepieces (and watch straps) are an outwardly visible badge of who we want the world to think we are. The watch strap should be viewed as critical to your timepiece as any theatrical soundtrack or stunning cinematography is to a movie. Try watching Star Wars without a musical soundtrack. While the words are still present, the emotional impact is lost. When it comes to how you want your watch to be viewed by the world, having the right watch strap will set the stage, cultivate an atmosphere, and build a story. Not just any story – your story.  

Watches rarely fit into just one category anymore and finding the perfect watch strap involves blending design elements that all must work together functionally and aesthetically. The once large chasm that existed between an active watch strap and a dressy watch strap has narrowed significantly with new materials and construction techniques. The sheer volume of what is available can seem overwhelming as watch strap makers struggle to keep up with fashion trends and evolve their products accordingly. Purchasing the right watch strap is a precarious balancing act that involves the evaluation of materials, textures, construction and fit of not only the strap, but of the watch it is attached to. Visually the watch strap can have more presence, and take up more physical space, than the watch itself, so time invested in choosing the right strap really pays dividends to the overall look. It is a challenge worth taking on (like growing fresh tomatoes or perfectly folding a fitted sheet), as when the right watch strap is found for a particular watch the eye relaxes, and a symbiotic kind of energy is felt. The wearer is not burdened by any faults or inconsistencies that can jar the overall visual appeal of the watch and strap pairing. When this is accomplished, both items are elevated to a place that neither individually could reach. A watch that was relegated to the darkest corner of your desk drawer can be rejuvenated as the star of your collection with the right watch strap.  Likewise, a beloved timepiece can be bestowed with an entirely new personality, increasing time spent on the wrist versus time spent in a watch box or safe. 

I have experienced this transformation many times but never has this rebirth of a watch happened more times in my own personal collection than with my perennial Hamilton Khaki 38 Auto. This little Hamilton, arguably the greatest value field watch ever made, is the perfect vessel to emphasize the versatility and power of a strap change. Once this watch is freed from its barely adequate factory strap, the agreeable design and case profile lend itself to become a jack of all trades and master of most. I have paired this watch with canvas, leather, nylon, suede, sailcloth, and even tweed fabric if you can believe it. Each change enhances the watch in different ways, and highlights a new characteristic of the humble Khaki that may or may not have been expected. For example, colorful Perlon made it a fun, bright summer watch, while olive drab fully embraced the military roots that run deep with the Khaki. In a bit of insanity, I even had the audacity to try out a luxurious Shell Cordovan strap that had enough finesse to elevate the little Khaki into something that could be quite at home under the cuff of a suit. The transformative power of a watch strap excites me to this day, and I thoroughly enjoy trying new combinations from all manufacturers large and small. 

Watch straps, like all clothing and footwear are a chance to celebrate and share our individualism and style with the world. Like the watches they are attached to, they are a fashionable and functional part of the story of our lives. 

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Stephen Damico is a Mechanical Engineer who has a passion for all things meticulously crafted. Be that in the form of vintage automobiles he loves to restore, or fine watches, or expertly made furniture. When Stephen is not enjoying his life with his family, he enjoys fishing, cooking and writing about the myriad of handcrafted watch straps from all over the world on his website. Stephen's current crop of favorite watch brands includes Oris, Omega, and Grand Seiko, but he is very excited about the ever changing landscape of micros and all the value they bring to the table. Best part of this hobby (or any hobby) is the community and people that you meet along the way.