Atelier Du Cuir Leather NATO

Recently, I took a tour through Etsy in search of bargain watch straps. My first find came from Grant's General Store in North Carolina, right here in the old U.S. of A. My next virtual journey brought me to Kwa Chun City, South Korea, home of Joong Ha Oh's Atelier Du Cuir ("leather workshop"). The shop contains many hand made leather goods, including some rather nice looking $350 alligator straps, and $55 one-piece leather pass through straps. As a dedicated cheapskate, The Time Bum requested the $55 strap, and Joong graciously provided one for review. 

The strap is a single piece Zulu style, in Buttero leather, approximately 1.8mm thick, with brushed or PVD coated stainless steel hardware. According to the site, the hides originate in France, and are vegetable tanned by Walpier in Italy. It is listed for sale in 20, 22, and 24mm sizes, and seven colors, although Joong tells me he can also make it in the colors listed for his card wallets, which brings the total color options to 11. The review sample was a grey 24mm with brushed hardware. Right out if the box, it was clear this is a quality strap. The leather is smooth and supple with a matte finish and fine grain. The color was generally true to the photographs, but less of a cold grey than one might expect. I'd describe it as more of a taupe. Regardless, it is a lovely color and likely to develop its own character with age and wear. 

I was particularly impressed with the attention to detail. Most leather NATO-Zulu straps are by design, quite literally, rough around the edges. The Atelier Du Cuir is not one of those straps. While undoubtably strong, there is nothing ragged or unfinished about it. The edges and back are burnished and smooth. The stitching is meticulous. Flipping it over, you will find a serial number stamped on the fold and a tiny cloth tag bearing the ADC logo sewn in below. It is a little thing, but it speaks volumes about the level of care that went into its creation.

On the wrist, I found it to be quite comfortable. The thickness of the leather allows it to carry large, heavy watches like my Luminor homage with ease, yet it is still soft to the touch. At just 260mm long, is is shorter than many pass-through straps, but it was a good fit for my 6.5" wrist. Wearing it cinched to the center adjustment hole left a bit of tail beyond the keepers, maybe a bit longer than I prefer, but not enough to require tucking it back. Larger wrists should find it fits even better. One element that might bother some is the "Atelier Du Cuir en CarĂ©e depius 2003" ("in Korea since 2003") stamping on to the upper surface. It is clean and attractive, but it dictates the position of the watch. If you tend to wear your watches centered on a Zulu, as I do, this is no problem. If you prefer to wear the watch head higher on the strap near the buckle, you will not be able to do so. 

Overall, the Atelier Du Cuir strap is a real beauty.  It is carefully made, feels great, and the leather is so smooth and rich you might be tempted to eat it.* At $55, plus $5 shipping to the States, it is well worth a look. 

Pro: High quality leather and exceptional finishing.
Con: Large, central position of stamping may limit watch position for some.
Sum: An excellent strap at a very attractive price.  The Time Bum approves.

* You shouldn't really do this. It looks like it might taste like marzipan, but trust me, it doesn't. 

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