Last year, I told you about J. Grant's General Store, and reviewed one of their natural vegetable tanned leather button stud straps, then revisited this same strap after a year of abuse. In both reviews, I concluded it was a fun strap at a bargain price. When Grant Merrill, the artisan behind these straps, informed me of some updates to the line, so I just had to check one out.
This time, Grant provided a one piece, pass-through strap in more traditional style. He is now sourcing his material from Hermann Oak, a St. Louis, Missouri company that has been producing vegetable tanned leather since 1881. He has also added a range of colors including blue, turquoise, olive, sea green, and the beautiful palm green on the sample.
I noticed the difference right away. The new leather is slightly thicker. Not by a huge margin mind you. The old strap was about 1.25 mm and the new one is closer to 1.5 mm but that that 0.25 is tangible. It was a bit stiff out of the package but limbered up with use. Although the strap was thin enough to slip between the case and spring bar on my watches, I should caution you that it is easy to mark the surface this way. If there is any chance of scraping the strap against the case, play it safe and remove those spring bars first, particularly when the strap is new. Over time, the leather will become more much more pliable and forgiving. Similarly, you should take care to place the watch head where you want it the first time you fit the strap as the case edges will leave marks.
The top has a slight sheen and fine grain with a few imperfections in the hide for character. The straps are hand dyed, so there is some variation in the color as well, but it is deep and rich, particularly in that intense green. I had planned to pair it with white or orange dials, but ultimately found it looked best with black. On both the Bulova Hack Commemorative and Helson Shark Diver the bright green popped behind the dark dials and highlighted the green pigment in the lume.
The buckle and fixed keeper are fixed with a minimal stitch in a contrasting waxed thread. A second, floating keeper keeps the tail in check. My sample had a stainless buckle with polished sides and a brushed center. Yellow and rose gold buckles are also available. The strap is offered in widths from 12 to 22 mm, 125 mm long, and Grant will do custom sizes on request. The sales page only shows five colors in this style, but straps can be made in any color on the site.
I like this strap. It is inexpensive, well made, and the color... Man, the color is fantastic. Whichever you choose, it will cost only $34, and shipping is free with code FREESHIP.