Recently, I was shopping at the mall with Mrs. Time Bum, and found myself in the Coach store. While she examined the spring handbag collection, I wandered over to the sale rack (of course). On my way, I noticed the Coach watch collection and thought, "This place is known for their leather goods. They sell everything you can imagine wrapped in leather. Why don't they sell watch straps?" Just then, as if to prove that I have no original ideas, I saw an enticing array of Coach Bleecker leather straps in black, fawn, mahogany, blue, and orange.
The Bleecker collection uses leather that is chrome tanned, vegetable tanned, aniline dyed, waxed and oiled. The result is a strong and soft "glove tanned" leather. I have carried a fawn colored Coach Bleecker messenger bag every day for a couple of years now, and it has held up beautifully. I have every reason the think the strap will wear just as well. I chose an orange strap with off-white stitching. The strap is meticulously finished and lightly padded. It is 75/123mm (short/long ends), approximately 4mm thick, and does not taper. It terminates in a square polished buckle with rounded corners and the tang attached to a cross bar, not on the spring bar, which makes it larger than a conventional design. The frame bears the Coach logo.
Coach sells these straps for their line of Bleecker watches, and this brings some bad news, and some good news. The bad news is that they are only available in a 20mm width. The good news is that because they are marketed to non-watch nerds as a swappable accessory, Coach has supplied them with quick-release spring bars. The bars have a tiny lever attached, allowing their removal and replacement without the use of a strap changing tool. This is an idea so ingenious, I have seen it "invented" at least twice on Kickstarter. Die hard strap junkies will shrug at this, but not everyone carries their own strap tool, and those of us who do have also experienced that forehead-slapping moment when the tool slips and a spring bar shoots across the room into oblivion. Quick release bars eliminate this hassle, and maybe that can bring the joy of strap swapping to the mainstream, watch-wearing public.
As you can tell from the pictures, the color is magnificent. I put the Bleecker on a Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece where the orange could pop against the white dial and blue moon phase complication. The color is eye catching, but not lurid. I found it was perfectly in keeping with the dress/sport nature of the watch and lent itself well to a blue suit with a brightly colored necktie.
The Bleecker costs $88, but if you are on the Coach mailing list, you will probably get a 20% coupon once or twice a year. When you do, buy your wife a handbag, and treat yourself to a sharp looking, well made strap while you're at it.