Once again, The Time Bum has traveled the world of Etsy in search of quality watch straps from artisans you may not know. This time, my discovery was Zach Lawler's Eakin Street Studio in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from our nation's capitol.
The strap featured here is listed on the site as a NATO/Zulu in vegetable tanned leather, and sells for $45. It is a one-piece, pass through strap with a floating leather keeper and your choice of square or Pre-V style buckle. As I have amassed a strap collection, I have come to appreciate this particular style of pass-through as it allows you to swap hardware to match different watches. The straps are made from 4-5 oz. leather (1.5-2mm thick) and are treated with mink oil. Like all of Zach's straps, it is hand made, stitched with waxed linen, and the tail is cut at an asymmetrical angle. The NATO/Zulu strap is 250mm or 9.8" and is available in widths from 16-22mm. A 24mm width and other custom work is available upon request.
The leather is pliable right out of the anchor-emblazoned bag, and requires no breaking in. The length is just about all my 6.5" wrist can handle and the floating keeper helps check what might otherwise be an unruly bit of tail. My strap is "vintage brown," a rich golden brown with a deep grain. It is also available in a much lighter "oiled natural." The vegetable tanned leather will continue to darken with time and use. "One of the things I love about leather as a material is the way it ages," says Zach. "There is no way to perfectly recreate the natural aging process."
Many of his other straps are made with reclaimed leather, which enables Zach to capture the beauty of a naturally aged material, and present it in a new way. "Maybe a 30 year old beat up belt won't look that great around your waist, but it can still look awesome on your wrist," he explains. "To me, that is the best part of working with leather. The beauty of the product already lies in the material. All you really have to do is find a way to not mess it up."
I'd say Zach has succeeded in doing more than not screwing it up. His straps are carefully crafted wth marvelous character. Prices are reasonable: $45 for the one-piece, and $60-65 for two-piece vintage leather straps.
Pro: Looks great with tons of charm.
Con: None that I can find.
Sum: Handcrafted straps at a nice price. The Time Bum approves.