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Vintage Strap Review

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Vintage Strap

Personal Strap Review

M75 Straps by artist Kok Peng Lim from Malaysia

Kok Peng Lim who is an artist from Malaysia for more than 20 years and nowadays focussed on creating abstract paintings, has been collecting Panerai watches for about 12 years.

In 2005 when he travelled to Bangkok together with Mr. Eng Tay, another very famous artist of Malaysian origin and a well known Paneristi with an impressive collection of vintage Panerai watches. In one of the malls where for a complete stranger squad down to have a look at Eng Tay his vintage Panerai watch. It turned out that they knew each through the Paneristi community and the watch did the magic. This was a complete new experience for him that a watch can bring people that close together.

Kok Peng Lim's art

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At a certain point in time Eng Tay was looking for a handmade strap for one of his vintage Panerai watches and Kok Peng Lim offered him to try to make one for him. With limited tools he created his first strap that looked acceptable. A few months later Eng Tay brought leather ammunition pouches from New York for him to create more straps. This was a turning point for Kok Peng Lim as he fell in love with the straps he created and needed his own watch to fit a strap like that.

He looked for a watch that would suit an ammo strap best in watch magazines and came to the conclusion that Panerai watches are the best match for these kind of straps.

When he asked Eng Tay to help him find the right Panerai model, he got a shocking reply that a Seiko watch would do and is practical enough. But he insisted on getting his own first Panerai and it had to be a special one, a limited edition.

His first Panerai is a PAM00232 Radiomir. This is in the meantime added with a PAM00249, PAM00382, PAM00360 and a PAM00634. All these models are Panerai Limited Editions and the reason for the start of his journey into strap making.

Until now, he is continuously making straps for himself and some of his friends. All these years he got his satisfaction from making a strap that will impress himself, and not for making money.

As an true artist he keeps improving himself , just like the way he is practicing on his painting art works, that also means that any work that does not make him happy or he is not satisfied with, he will not hesitate to destroy it.

As a passionate Panerista he has been meeting a lot of fellow Paneristi around the world making new friends.

Malaysian Risti mini-GTG on January 4th 2017"

My wife and I were invited by fellow Panerista Calven Tan to participate in a mini-GTG (GTG= get-together) after I posted on Facebook that we were coming to Malaysia on a holiday. This was taking place on 4th January 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.

When we reached at the meeting point, Madam Kwan's Restaurant in the Suria Mall in KLCC most participants were already there. The evening was extremely nice and both my wife and I were given a T-shirt and a mug that was created for their last big GTG in August 2016. The T-shirt was designed together with Eng Tay, this makes it an extra special T-shirt!

Calven asked me before about my strap sizes because there was a strap maker coming as well to the GTG, I gave the details of our straps sizes and expected that the strap maker would just take straps along that we could have a look at and possibly buy. Instead of that a canvas pouch was presented by Calven as he requested the strap maker Kok Peng Lim to create a strap for both my wife and me, a complete and unexpected surprise.
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Once I opened the canvas pouch and had the straps in my hands for the first time I was immediately impressed with the finish and shadows effect of both the straps. Calven whispered in my ear that he takes normally at least 1 to 2 weeks to complete one strap till it is giving him the result he is looking for. This review will be for the time being limited to the 26mm strap I received that was made for my Panerai PAM00372.
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The pouch

The strap came in a canvas pouch that can hold two straps and can also be used to put your watch in when traveling. The pouch is very well made and is secured by a leather belt with a push-buttont hat carries the brandname "M75".
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The finish of the strap

The finish of the strap is very accurate, it is a hand-made strap and the very well done stitching. The leather is thick and feels very firm similar to a new ammo strap, the leather is polished and aged toward the lug side that gives the strap a very interesting look. This strap definitely needs to break in and now after 4 days of wearing the strap it feels very comfortable on the wrist. The keepers are thick and not too wide, the holes punched are small and round, that gives it a more vintage look, but give you kind of a struggle to get the buckle pin in the hole the first time.The strap is 150/85 length, for me a perfect size that shows some tail, again something vintage.
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The color change from light to dark is completely the same on both parts of the strap
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The buckle and branding of the strap

The buckle that came with this strap is a sewn-in buckle that is bend and looks like a vintage buckle with one small difference. The brand name M75 is engraved on the side of the buckle and easily readable when wearing the strap The strap is branded with M75 as well on the tail side of the strap, in a military font.
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The burnishing and thickness

The thickness of the strap is 5mm tick at the lug side and has small holes that just can be fitted with the Panerai tubes like it is one with the strap. The burnishing done is a rough natural one and subtle and colored in the same color as the dark part of the strap.
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On the watch

In order to fully see the coloring going for dark to light and back to dark can be best seen with the strap mounted on the watch. The mounting was a bit tough, that is a good sign as the strap will fit like a glove at the lugs, a snug fit!
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Finally on the wrist

The strap is not soft as mentioned but still feels solid on the wrist the first time I put it on. The strap comes with two keepers which is looking very nice with the long tail of the strap and have the same color as the darkest part of the strap. The part you see when you wear the strap on the watch is the lightest part of the strap, this is distressed and looks very used, this gives a nice vintage touch to the strap.
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The buckle

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My conclusion

This M75 strap has been an absolute surprise for me, not only the fact that I was given one, I saw the strap that Kok Peng Lim had on his PAM00232 Radiomir at the mini-GTG in Kuala Lumpur and as already curious about it as it looked like something completely different. The overall finish of the strap is absolutely high-end, the small detail of the brand name M75 on the buckle confirms eye for detail. Of course you can read on the strap with capital letters that this strap was made with absolute passion by a true artist who also happens to be a serious Panerista.

Although I can for sure recommend this M75 strap, the problem is he only makes a very limited number of straps and only within a very small known circle to him and at the moment only on single requests he gets on Facebook. That makes ordering a strap from Kok Peng Lim a bit complicated. The price for a strap like he made for me is therefore very hard to tell, but I would expect it to go for at least 150-200 Euro looking at the way the strap is made, presented and finished.

For those who appreciate his work, try to reach him on Facebook.

I hope you like the review, feel free to post your comments here

The strap specifications:

Below you find summarized the specifications of the strap, the prices mentioned are only indicative just to give you an idea what you could expect if you order one.
Leather type: vegetable tanned leather
Special treatment: grinding & polishing followed by natural leather balsam treatment
Width: 26 mm
Length: 150/90 mm
Thickness strap: 5 mm
Type of buckle: M75 sewn-in vintage style buckle
Buckle material: Brushed steel
Type of stitching: hand-stitch
Price range: 190-225 EURO (depending on the customisation)

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A few additional images of my new M75 strap followed by images and the Malaysian Paneristi mini-GTG.
The vintage used look
darker at the buckle
darkest at the end of the strap
On January 4, Calven Tan was so kind to organize a mini-GTG that we could participate in, it was held at Madam Kwan
Putting the watches for a table shot
Getting the smartphones ready for the table shot
Me making table shots
Table shot
one more table shot
A completely unexpected surprise, Calven had two straps made for us by strap maker Kok Peng Lim from M75 Straps, next we got their MYRisti 2016 mug
Calven also surprised us with their MYRisti 2016 T-shirt that was co-designed by our dear friend and artist Eng Tay!
The two beautiful straps and the MYRisti 2016 T-shirt
Group wrist shot!
Group wrist shot now with faces!
The group consisted of from Left to Right: Randy Yeap, AikKoing Tan, Calven Tan, Philix Ng, (behind)Lobo Tang & Kok Peng Lim, us, Kent Ong, Alexander Azhar, Paul Lim
The group now in full wrist shot action
Calven Tan, Kok Peng Lim and me

Types of straps made by Kok Peng Lim

To get a better understanding of the type of straps that Kok Peng Lim creates, I asked him to share a few images, see the gallery below.
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