Watch Straps: Leather vs. Metal Watch Strap

Apart from picking the actual making of a watch, another tough selection is the kind of strap. You might be wondering which is better—leather or metal? If you can only afford one everyday wristwatch, then this is an important decision. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between leather and metal watch straps so you can know which one your best option will be.

Why Select Luxurious Leather?

Leather watch straps are a classic, familiar favorite for many. Because of its naturally soft, light feel, it’s a comfortable material that is both flexible and long-lasting. Available in a variety of colors and styles, this type of watch strap has the ability to adjust & expand over time. It can be a seamless fit to your wrist.

How much you pay for a leather watch strap is determined by the leather’s quality and distinctiveness. You also need to consider the watch brand & strap maker.

While leather is commonly made from cowhide, leather watch strap styles also include using alligator, calf, crocodile, ostrich, and shark hides. Each hide has its unique beauty, texture, and pattern.

closer view of Cartier Tank watch

An excellent dress watch option for formal events, leather is sophisticated and elegant. The added bonus is that you can try to wear the same colored shoes or belt so that you are fashionably matched. Leather watch straps are generally made with a solid buckle system. This prevents the watch pin from coming undone unexpectedly.

The Pros of Mighty Metal

Stainless steel bracelet watches are a popular choice for sports watches. Suitable for many sporting activities, a metal strap watch such as a Rolex appears more expensive than leather and can also function as a dress watch for fancier occasions.

Metal watch straps are tough and provide a sense of stability because it is heavy. You can quite easily distinguish between the qualities of different metal watch straps simply by feeling them in your hands. A metal watch strap usually wears out along with the life of the watch and doesn’t require frequent replacing.

Rolex Yacht Master white dial watch on the wrist

Strong and not likely to break, metal watch straps can get wet. They don’t damage as easily as leather when exposed to your sweat and water droplets. The material doesn’t stretch visibly.

What to Look Out for with Leather Watch Straps

While leather watch straps come in diverse colors, a particular hue might be restrictive and only suit certain outfits.

It’s necessary to care for and clean leather watch straps. This avoids cracking and helps maintain your watch strap’s elasticity. However, the reality is a leather watch strap will wear out over time.  The small strap holders could break or the holes eventually become stretched.

You can easily replace your leather watch strap more than once throughout your actual watch’s life, but make sure to purchase the real deal. It can be easy to mistake fake leather for a genuinely good quality strap.

side view of Panerai Luminor  black dial watch

To prolong the life of your leather watch strap, avoid getting it wet. Leather straps can stain and smell rather pungent when they have been exposed to water. Remove it when washing your hands or dishes, as well as when swimming or performing high-intensity exercises or sports that make you perspire. If you don’t do this, your sweat soaks through the strap, and in time this can produce a nasty odor & cause the strap to eventually break.

If you do accidentally wet your leather watch strap, remove your watch and let it lie on a window sill or flat surface in direct sunlight to dry it out.

The Downside of Metal Watch Straps

Some people find the solid feeling of a metal watch too weighty for everyday use. A metal watch strap can look smart for more formal occasions, but it doesn’t look as chic as a leather watch strap.

While you can wear a metal watch strap all day every day, you may experience itchiness on hotter days due to sweat being trapped under the metal. In addition, metal is very sensitive to temperature. If left in a place such as in the direct hot sun or in a cold bedroom, putting on your metal watch can be unpleasant.

Panerai Luminor black dial watch (left); IWC Automatic blue dial watch (center); TAG Heuer black dial watch (right)

A metal watch strap is not as resistant to everyday knocks. It’s possible for the clasps on the strap to become undone, especially if they nick or bump something forcefully. Pricier brands of metal watches attempt to combat this by manufacturing straps with a positioning clasp with safety.

Tiny scratches can be polished out on your metal watch strap. These straps can be magnets for grime caught in the tiny crevices, and in time the metal can appear duller. Be sure to know how to correctly clean and take care of your metal watch strap.

Ensuring your metal watch fits correctly can be a bit tricky. If you buy a watch at a store, links can be removed until the strap length is suitable. A watch purchased online could be more difficult to adjust.

Watch Straps Conclusion

Both leather and metal watch straps have their strengths and uses. Because this is such a personal decision, it’s still best to first do some window shopping and even try on some watches in store so you know how they really look & feel. Based on that you can opt for either a store or the best online watch store, but you’ll have a much better idea of what suits you!

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