The Bas & Lokes is a Sydney, Australia duo (trio, if you count Soda the dog) that has been turning out handcrafted leather watch straps and other leather goods since 2009. I have been curious about them ever since Paul (WatchOtaku.com) Hubbard sent me his Armida A8 with a well-loved Bas & Lokes attached. I appreciated the construction and liked the leather's character and patina. As Paul's was a bit too used to stand as a suitable review sample, I decided to get my own, eventually settling on the chocolate brown "Ian" strap.
Express shipping is offered, but I opted for standard shipping by DHL Global Mail, which made the trip from Sydney to Washington, DC in little more than a week. I opened the package to find a neatly folded paper packet addressed to me along with a handwritten thank you note. It was a nice reminder of the artisan behind my purchase.
Every strap maker has a signature style. Some embrace the raw and rustic. Others aim for fine tailoring and high polish. I would describe the Bas & Lokes look as clean and rugged. The straps are made from a wide variety of premium leathers all of which exhibit great character in texture and color. They are not machine perfect, of course, but you can see the care that went into them. Like a Thos. Moser chair or a Saddleback briefcase, the straps are expertly constructed but in no way fussy, and ready to break in with age, not break down.
The Ian is an excellent example of this. The cuts are clean, edges burnished, holes straight, and stitching even. The strap is cut from a single piece of leather, doubled over and glued without and folded tabs so it is an even thickness (just under 4mm) throughout. It is a deep chocolate brown color with a creased surface and pronounced pull-up effect, creating light and dark tones for an aged character right out of the box. Minimal stitches in a chestnut thread bind it at the corners and the tip of its tail, which is secured by a single floating keeper. Like all Bas & Lokes goods, it is hand made to order by Bas herself in a wide range of widths, lengths, and buckle options. Mine is 120/70mm long and 24mm wide tapering to a brushed 20mm stainless steel buckle.
I put the Ian on my Magrette Regattare and swapped the supplied stainless buckle for a bronze item I had purchased elsewhere. The complex variations in color and texture worked beautifully with the mottled oxidation on the Magrette's case. Even new, the Ian appears warm, weathered, and handsome. If Paul's strap is any guide, it will only improve with age and use.
The straps run from $80 to $140 depending on the style. This is not exactly cheap, but certainly reasonable for a custom made, handmade strap of this quality. The Ian is at the top of this price range, but subscribers to the Bas & Lokes newsletter can take advantage of periodic sales throughout the year. I was lucky enough to snag this one (a demo model used for photo shoots) for just $95 and $10 shipping. My only regret is that I did not buy two, but even at full price, the strap is a solid value for the money.
For more information, go to BasandLokes.com.