Button stud straps are starting to pop up with greater frequency these days, and a number of folks told me that if I really wanted to dig a button stud, I needed to check out the original article from form•function•form. I perused the site and traded some messages with Shawn Reed, the artisan responsible for form•function•form's products. I could see this was some very nice stuff, but is it worth the cash? I felt honor bound to find out.
After careful consideration, I chose the adjustable button stud strap in Horween Chromexel for $48. In true Time Bum fashion, it is the least expensive in the line. I cannot bring myself to say "cheap" because even though $48 won't break the bank, there is nothing cheap about the strap. It is carefully made of high quality leather, and that quality is apparent from the moment you open the "F" stamped box. I must admit I felt a pang of buyer's remorse when I first saw it. It was brown. This was no great surprise, as that is exactly the color I had ordered, and I needed a dark brown strap, but when I considered that I could have chosen vegetable tanned leathers with names like "Dublin Ale" or "English Derby" or "Tumbled Merlot," I chose ... brown?
That feeling evaporated as soon as I picked it up. It seems that after over 100 years in the tanning business, the folks at Horween know a thing or two about leather. The strap was buttery soft with a silky smooth surface. The incredible depth and evenness of the color actually caused the most worry because it just seemed too uniform — until I moved it. Bending the leather displays a subtle pull-up effect, lightening the color as the oils are forced away from the surface, and adding a bit of dimension to the strap. The card inside summed it up nicely, "Do not handle with care. We can take it." This is a strap that will soak up the bumps and scrapes of daily life and come out looking all the better for it in the end.
After estimating the proper position of the stud, I gave it a test on my Seiko SNZF17. I removed the spring bars first to prevent the case from scraping against the strap, and positioned the head low on the strap, over the adjustment holes. With the rounded top end secured to the stud, all but one of the holes was hidden for a seamless appearance. The strap is remarkably comfortable, and as Shawn promised, with the stud positioned near the watch head, there is no hardware to get in your way.
Studs are available in silver, black, or solid brass. A word to the wise: the silver finish on the form•function•form stud is nickel plating. I found this to be the true of other sources as well. For most people it won't matter, but for those of us who are allergic to nickel, it means an itchy red spot wherever the stud hits our skin. Fortunately, Shawn has just secured a batch of stainless steel studs like the one shown here. They have a brushed finish and are mercifully itch free. The stainless studs are not yet listed in his drop down menus, but are available if you type your request into the "gift message" box.
Is the form•function•form strap worth $48? The Time Bum says, "Hell yes!" This is one gorgeous piece of leather cut into a distinctive and attractive strap. Shawn offers a number of leathers, textures, and colors. You can order top grade shell cordovan for $82, and for $98 you can have it custom sized for a perfect fit. If you really want to go all out, order a strap set with a watch attached. Timex or Rolex, it is up to you. The Submariner "Hulk" he has listed for $8,250 might be a touch out of range for most of us, but as you can see, the Horween button stud looks mighty cool on a Seiko too. The Time Bum approves.