Shell Cordovan is often considered to be the finest leather available. It’s truly rare, not just being made by only a handful tanneries worldwide, but also having a very small yield per hide, only a few square feet per animal. It’s expensive, roughly 10x the cost of traditional leather, it’s exotic and it has a look and feel unlike other leathers. No wonder it’s a staple in high-end shoes and now, in watch straps.
Shell Cordovan is a very curious material. First, it’s not from cows, but rather from horses, and it’s actually not skin. Rather, the “shell” is a layer of a muscle-type material that is found just under the skin over the hip of a horse. After removal, the shell then needs to be cleaned to remove any of the hide that is left over, and then tanned with traditional vegetable tannins for upwards of 6 months. Color is applied after on the top surface, and the result is a supple, tough leather with a gorgeous inner glow that lasts a very long time. Shell has the unique characteristic of not creasing, keeping it looking good for longer.
At worn&wound, we’ve always been huge fans of Shell, so we knew it was something we needed in our collection of American-Made straps. So, we sourced some gorgeous Shell from a small Italian tannery called Comipel, whose cordovan is considered to be some of the best out there. Now, because of Shell’s strength, it can be left thin and unlined without risk of stretching, making it perfect for our Model 2 and Single Pass straps.