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Canvas straps

Strap Review

Vintager Straps from Napa, USA

Micah Dirksen, the man behind Vintagers Straps is very well-know for his Mauser ammo and canvas straps within the Paneristi community and is a full-time strapmaker since 2006. A man proud of his work and always supportive to other strapmakers on the paneristi.com forum, he is a watch fanatic, a Panerista, just like the most of us and understands the work and passion that goes into strap-making.

I have been publishing till date only my personal straps that have been well read and appreciated. Owning Panerai watches is only a small part of the experience, collecting straps is an equal addiction

When Micah contacted me with the request to review his straps I understood that this was not just an intention to increase his strap sales, but more an opportunity to introduce his work to fellow and new Paneristi who are not so familiar with strapmakers and their work.

I consider Micah to be more "one of us" and to be honest I did look quite a few times at his Mauser ammo straps before that look really nice and special, going ahead was a natural next step.

To make the review make sense as a strap fan as I am not a strap or watch journalist/reporter, no ready made straps were to be sent to me, instead I looked at straps I would be interested in and ordered them just like an ordinary customer.

You will find in total 4 strap reviews of straps made by Micah, here I review the two different types of canvas straps.
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Canvas straps

Canvas straps are directly connected to ammo straps, most canvas straps are made of military bags from WW2 or the Vietnam war. No surprise this material is very well suited to create straps for Panerai and other watches.

Strapmaker Micah Dirksen is, besides very well-known for his ammo straps, one of the best canvas strap makers in the market and you will realize this when you get his straps in hand.

Delivery took a while

The ordering of the straps was a smooth experience and were ready within two weeks time, I received an email with the message that the straps were ready and dispatched including a picture of the straps sent to me. This was the first professional follow-up action I have seen from a strapmaker til date and seeing the straps ready makes you eager to receive them as soon as possible. Unfortunately the shipment went very fine up to the point it left the USA, when almost giving up on the package to reach me at the very last moment I got a knock on my front door, the postman had a envelope for me. Of course I was very happy that it turned out fine, but as I was leaving that very same evening for a week to Europe I had to wait with making some decent pictures and give the straps the attention before starting to wearing them.

Straightforward packaging

The packaging of strap differs from strapmaker to strapmaker and Micah his approach is that you need to happy with the strap you buy from him rather than be impressed with the box or pouch a strap could come with.

The only thing you will see when receiving a Vintager strap is a paper seal that looks like a cigar band that says "Always hand made by Micah Dirksen" and "Pull Here and enjoy!" and a letter signed by Micah congratulating your with your purchase and on top of that giving you a service promise I have not seen anyone else giving this guarantee that comes to "you break it and I replace it" no matter what, wow!
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The straps

These are the first two canvas straps I have so far and I specifically wanted to compare Micah's two versions of canvas straps, the rolled canvas and the leather backed canvas straps.

Just like ammo straps, these canvas straps are made of bags used during either WW2 or the Vietnam war era, in other words material with a history and aged to perfection.

Rolled dark American canvas strap

The rolled canvas is a 100% canvas strap that makes it very suitable to swim with and should not discolor when dried. Both sides of the strap are made of the same canvas. I choose the rolled dark American canvas, made from Vietnam era US military surplus bags with a rich dark green color. The stitching I choose is the 1886 Tan color to create a contrast. This strap came with one sewn-in keeper and one loose keeper.

Swiss leather backed canvas strap

The leather backed canvas is the Swiss Military canvas made from 1950's Swiss army bags. The color is salt-and-pepper and with the grey stitching, called Slate, a good match for a PAM00389. This strap came with two loose keepers to keep the the fitting at the buckle side compact.

Micah creates all his straps completely by himself and makes in principle only on order, that makes every strap he creates a unique strap as you can choose the color stitching, the type of holes, the buckle type, etc.
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No burnished sides

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The finish of the strap

The finish of the strap confirms the passion of the maker, the leather he selects, the way he brands his straps on both the short and long part with "Vintager Straps" and his well-known "Octopussy", the super-sharp stitching. The presentation of the strap with that "cigar band" like paper roll around the strap that invites you to rip it and indeed start using it is another eye for detail and works at least on my emotions in a very positive way!

Like on the other straps of Micah, the burnishing of the strap is here only on the edge, for the rest no burnishing is done. The stitching is done very precise, it has a different color stitch on the lining than the upper side of the strap as Micah only stitches his straps machine-stitched, it needs a high degree of accuracy and appreciation for detail & finish, this is mastered by him!

Some are not soo keen on machine stitched straps, but you need to understand that there is a major difference between a strap that Micah creates and one that comes out of a factory like Hirsch, his passion and dedication on every single strap is recognizable. It is probably a bit faster than stitching a strap by hand, but it pays immediately back if you look at the price level Micah works, very reasonable priced straps!

Rolled dark American canvas strap

The dark rolled American canvas straps is sewn very precise and the rolled edges are very even on the complete strap. The burnished edges gives the strap already a bit of a worn look. The stamps on both sides are also there, but less visible than on the leather straps.

Swiss leather backed canvas strap

The Swiss leather backed canvas strap is a completely different strap, the canvas is a single layer glued and sewn on the thick leather lining, the leather part is the thickest part of the strap and a lot stiffer than the rolled canvas strap. If you like a strap to age a lot I think this strap could be your choice, as the canvas will loosen up on the sides of the stap and could fray up to the stitching part and will give the strap a very distressed look.

The tubes fit tight

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Burnishing only on the edges

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The screw-in Pre-V Style buckle

These straps have Micah's screw-in Pre-V buckles and they look solid. the buckles have more rounded edges than the sewn-in variant and can of course be easily used for other straps.
As I mentioned before I can advice you to go for the sewn-in Pre-V buckle as these kind of straps will go for a life-time and nothing easier to have straps laying with the buckle ready, not to mention the sewn-in buckle that Micah supplies is a very nice one!
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On the watch

Micah makes all his straps just a tiny bit wider than 26mm, this way the strap fits the case of the watch really nice and tight. Even with this knowledge I had no problem at all fitting the strap on the watch, Micah even added tubes in the straps he sent me, also part of the deal when ordering a strap from Vintager Straps.
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The rolled dark American canvas strap, 3.5 mm thick

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Swiss leather backed canvas strap, 4mm thick

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The strap on the wrist

Rolled dark American canvas strap

The rolled dark American canvas strap doesn't need time at all to break in, its flexible right away and feels really comfortable on the wrist. As the strap is not a thick one, 3.5 mm, and comes close to the thickness of an OEM strap, my PAM372 gets more presence and looks slick. You could even wear it as a dress strap :-)

Swiss leather backed canvas strap

The Swiss leather backed canvas strap is thicker and suits a Submersible better in my opinion. As the leather is around 4mm thick, this strap needs to break in and after wearing this for a longer period it will give a much more distressed look when it starts fraying than the rolled dark American canvas strap, including the keepers as they are too made as leather backed canvas keepers.

The same and yet so different

Especially the moment you have the strap on your wrist you notice the big difference between the two version, one is elegant and the other more rough and ready to get distressed. Still both carry the same kind of history with them and are made with the same love and dedication. For me that means that if you bought your first canvas strap as a rolled canvas you can easily go for the leather backed canvas variant as a completely different strap.
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The buckle

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My conclusion

Rolled dark American canvas strap

The rolled dark American canvas strap is an ideal strap for the summer or when going on a holiday. This strap can really take a beating, you can swim with it, it doesn't stretch or discolor after it got wet. You can swim with it for sure. And still as this is a 3.5 mm thick or rather say thin strap the watch looks good for an evening party or a business meeting.

Swiss leather backed canvas strap

The Swiss leather backed canvas strap is a completely different strap compared to the rolled canvas strap. This strap is rougher, if feels a lot stiffer and compliments your watch if you are looking for a informal look and later a rough look after the straps is fraying. The leather side is when you wear it for the first time stiff and needs to break in, as soon as it has taken the shape of your wrist the straps feels comfortable and as it is a bit thicker than the rolled canvas strap it looks fantastic on a bigger watch like my PAM00389 Submersible.

Especially if you are looking for a new strap or extra strap and have been looking at Panerai OEM straps, Vintager Straps is a perfect alternative for at least 4 reasons.

First of all the finish is top-notch and individually made for you, you can order your strap with the stitching color of your choice plus at your size and even if you like the exact positions of the holes again to your size

If at all something happens to your strap Micah replaces the strap with no questions asked, this all would be never offered by Officine Panerai.

Something that makes most of us happy, you can get two Vintager Straps straps for the price that you normally spend on just one Panerai OEM strap.

On the buckle part, although the screw-in Pre-V buckle that came with both straps looks nice and wears comfortable,the sewn-in Pre-V buckle would be my preferred choice!

If you are looking for more info about Vintager Straps, you can find the strap maker at www.vintagerstraps.com and if you interested in more details about the strapmaker of Vintager Straps, Micah Dirksen, click here

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.
Strap name: Rolled dark American canvas strap
Material type: Made of US Military canvas surplus bags from the Vietnam war era
Color: Dark Green
Stitching color: 1886 Tan
Width: 26 mm
Length: 135/80 mm
Thickness strap: 3.5mm
Type of buckle: Screw-in Pre-V style buckle
Type of stitching: machine-stitch
Price range: 150 Euro / 165 USD, 185 USD (165 Euro) with buckle

Strap name: Swiss leather backed canvas strap
Material type: Made of Swiss Military canvas surplus bags from the 1950's with thick leather lining
Color: Salt & Pepper
Stitching color: Slate
Width: 26 mm
Length: 135/80 mm
Thickness strap: 4mm
Type of buckle: Screw-in Pre-V style buckle
Type of stitching: machine-stitch
Price range: 150 Euro / 165 USD, 185 USD (165 Euro) with buckle

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A few additional images of the canvas straps. Enjoy!
straps on the watches
The straps are a perfect fits for both watches
lining side with Vintagers Straps stamp
straps shows a bit of tail
just a bit of tail for the Swiss leather backed canvas strap
The Octopussy is less visible on the canvas compared to the leather but still there!
The Swiss leather backed canvas strap will fray for sure
The very recognisable stamp of the maker of the straps