The Time Bum loves a good strap, and is constantly searching for something different, so when Crown & Buckle and Logan Zane released their limited edition collaboration NATO straps last June, they got my attention. As I mentioned in my Gifts for Watch Lovers post, they are hand made in New York City in what many would call the Zulu style (i.e., a one-piece strap with thick, rounded hardware), from quality American or Italian leathers. The first releases were were very cool variations on camouflage patterns, but they also promised to "take the designs in some crazy directions" and that is what I was looking for. Camouflage is cool, but I was waiting for the crazy.
The Winter 13/14 collection makes good on this promise. Thomas Lathrop of Crown & Buckle says that when designing these straps they drew inspiration from haute couture, particularly some of the more outlandish leather creations of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Loubutin. All three new releases are black calfskin, embossed in-house. The Black Croc looks pretty sharp, and the cratered pattern of the Black Moonrock is mighty cool, but I snapped up the one I felt was the craziest of the bunch: the Black Hair-on-Hide.
The name pretty much says it all. This is a black cowhide strap with the hair still on it. It features an embossed check pattern and matching box stitching with PVD black or brushed stainless steel hardware. It is approximately 2mm thick, 292mm (11.5") long, and is available in 20, 22, and 24mm widths. They are $60 each and only 35 units will be made.
As you may have noticed from my wrist shots, The Time Bum is part werewolf. George Carlin once said, "Never trust a man whose arm hair completely covers his watch" and there are times when I wonder if I am really that far off. The idea of a hairy watch strap on a hairy wrist just seemed hilarious. Regardless, I figured it would be perfect winter wear for a beast of a watch, the massive Citizen Ecozilla, so I snapped one up in a brushed 24mm.
C&B advises removing the watch's spring bars before installation, and they are not kidding. The strap would not thread through even the relatively wide gap of my Suppa Adapters. Once in place, I noticed just how long 11.5" of strap really is. With the watch positioned high up near the buckle, or even lower to replicate the proportions of a typical two piece strap, it left an absurd length of tail when wrapped around my 6.5" wrist. Even fastening it over the sleeve of a sweatshirt was not enough to take up the slack. C&B has a video on their site that shows how to properly trim a strap, but I could not bear to do it. Instead, I moved the watch head to the mid point, near the adjustment holes. This shortened the tail to the point that I could tuck it neatly back through the keepers, even though it moved the buckle closer to the bottom of the watch head.
The pelt is very black and very shiny. It does not have a fluffy or delicate appearance. This is not soft, downy fur. It is coarse cow hair that lies flat with a clearly defined nap. While it is carefully made and finished, it is still a masculine looking piece. Let's face it, there is something positively caveman about wearing a hairy animal hide, even if you are wearing it on your Rolex, maybe even more so. The strap is soft and pliable and the suede backing is very comfortable; however, like all straps, there is a flap of leather folded under to secure the hardware. On that flap, the upper surface of the leather is turned under and contacts your wrist. It turns out cow hair can be a little itchy. It is not uncomfortable, but it can be distracting. In the process of adjusting my watch to eliminate excess tail, I found that moving the buckle from the underside of my wrist to the side also alleviated the itch. Buyers with different size wrists, or less sensitive skin may not notice it at all. (The Bum is rather a delicate flower.) Alas, if this is the price of fashion, then it is a price I am willing to pay. The Hair-on-Hide strap is like nothing else in my collection, and it makes for one crazy winter accessory.
Pro: Nothing else like it.
Con: Contact with cow hair might irritate some.
Sum: Haute couture with a Paleolithic edge. The Time Bum approves.