What makes Panerai watches so versatile
The fun with Panerai watches is the world that opens up for you once you got one and start interacting with fellow Panerai watch owners and enthusiasts, combined we call them Paneristi.The first thing that happens to you is they congratulate you with your watch and welcome you to the Paneristi community, the next thing that happens, you get introduced to the wonders of watch straps.
Panerai watch straps and the straps made by strap makersOfficine Panerai has different straps on offer made of different materials and in different colors, but at the same time it's pretty much all the same.
The real thing is the straps made by strap makers, most of them create strap by hand, very often custom-made of exotic materials in different designs. Most strap makers are Paneristi themselves and are thereby very easy to approach, most things are done on a personal level, they know exactly what kind of emotion sticks behind the watch and the strap. The more exclusive strap makers are often creating more expensive watch straps than Officine Panerai has on offer, on the other hand these straps are hand-made, custom-made and created to last much longer and are often made of very exclusive materials and gone through lengthy production processes. Bespoke would be the right word to summarize these kinds of straps.
I try to include a few personal things and backgrounds about the strap makers I asked them about to add in my reviews that explains and confirms their passion not just about straps, a lot about the brand that connects us all, Panerai watches and history. By understanding their passion gives an even better understanding about the strap art they produce for us.
None of my strap reviews are sponsored, if at any time a strap is sponsored for review I will very clearly specify this in the review.
The difference between hand-made and machine-madeIf you want a special strap for your Panerai you can choose between many strap makers and online strap shops at different prices. One thing you need to realise is the difference between machine-made and made by hand with old style tools like using an awl to sew, using knifes to cut the leather by hand instead of using leather cutting molds and shaving the leather with a leather plane instead of grinding the leather with a machine.
Most machine made straps including the the Panerai OEM straps can still be very nice straps with special materials and still created with care. Hand-made straps require a lot more skills, dedication and time as every single hole that needs to be punched very precise in the leather in order to sew the strap. A lot of hand-made straps are made of special materials like ammunition pouches or leathers that have gone through a very special process to make the strap look vintage, give it certain characteristics and style.
How can you find out if the strap is hand-sewn?It is not always easy to make out if a strap is sewn by hand or not. Below you find a few images I got from one strap maker who created straps both machine-sewn and hand-sewn that could help you out a bit. On the right side you see a strap with golden stitching that is made with a sewing machine, the beige strap and the strap with the blue stitching are hand-sewn. The holes of the machine-made strap are round because the needle of the sewing machine is round. The holes on the hand-sewn strap are like vertical cuts made when using an awl when sewing, thereby the strap gets a more vintage look, the stitching is not as sharp as a machine made stitch and thereby gives it a character. When it comes to the design of hand-made straps, they are very often homages to the originals used in the 1940/1960's, they are thicker than Panerai OEM straps or most of the machine-made straps and are thereby more durable as well.
The leather used for straps
Chromium-tanned leather mostly used for jackets, upholsteries, etc. The advantage of chromium-tanned leather is you can choose out of endless number of colors, but is very dangerous to produce and can be give an allergic reaction to the skin. Vegetable-tanned leather has a more limited color variations, takes much longer to produce and is safe for your skin.
If you want to be sure you are wearing a leather product like a watch strap or a bracelet directly on your skin, look for vegetable-tanned leather options.
Watch brands like Officine Panerai sell trustworthy watch straps that are anti-allergic and safe to wear, they have a corporate liability. Independent strap-makers source their own products and depending on the value the strap-maker puts into the product he/she makes using healthy-safe and environmentally friendly products or not, makes the difference in the product and the price you pay for the product. Of course there are straps out there in very bright colors, be sure at least the lining of the strap is made of vegetable-tanned leather.
Presentation of strapsSome strap makers like to add extra value to the strap they produce by packing them in branded pouches or even boxes, this however should never be to compensate the work done. The strap makers I have been dealing with till date have shown me very good work and as a small strap collector an extra pouch or box is always welcome to store the straps in nicely..
Is a hand-made strap expensive?To my opinion hand-made straps are only expensive when they are badly produced. Does a hand-made strap cost a lot of money, I think it does especially if you see the amount of material used to make a strap compared to a belt or a bag. But we should never forget the amount of time strap makers put in the creation of their straps and the type of leather that are used. We should put the good strap makers under the same banner as we would do in fashion, they deliver Haute Couture, the best cost more and you get thereby personalized exclusivity and quality!
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