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Swell Shark strap

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Swell Shark strap

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, going ahead was a natural next step.

To make the review make sense as a strap fan & strap user, 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, the first one will be about the Blue Shark strap.
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Swell Shark strap

Blue is the summer color for 2017 and as I already have enough brown colored straps, my eyes fell on the Swell Shark strap, an intens blue color. The blue that Vintagers Straps offers is a lot more intens blue than I have seen at other strap makers till date. All Micah's shark straps names are related to the ocean, here "Swell" is another word for wave.

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. In the meantime I am back and the first strap as mentioned to review is the Deep Blue Shark strap.

Straightforward packaging

The packaging of strap differs from strapmaker to strapmaker and Micah his approach is that you need to be 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!" plus 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 in writing that comes to "you break it and I replace it" no matter what, wow!
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The strap

This is my very first shark strap and I was very happy surprised that the color was even deeper blue than on the image on the website. As my intention was that this would be more a dressy/modern kind of strap, as far as you can call straps for 47mm Panerai watches dressy, I decided to go for a 135/80 26 mm straight in Deep Blue with oval holes and with a stitching color matching the faux patina indexes on my PAM372, called Goldenrod stitching, without a buckle as I want to use the strap with my Panerai 26mm OEM buckle.

Micah told me that this strap is the first one with black leather lining, instead of using shark leather for the lining as well. For me a black lining works very nice and wears comfortable in the summer here in India, it is recommendable!

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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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!

The sides of the strap have a so-called edge-coat, no burnishing done on this strap. The edge-coating is done in the same color as the shark leather, deep blue and gives a luxury touch on the strap.

The stitching is done very precise and 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!
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The screw-in Panerai OEM Vintage Style buckle

I mounted on this strap the Panerai OEM 26mm steel buckle that came with my PAM00372. The buckle fits perfect and installing the buckle on the strap went fast and smooth, no need to try to get it as sometimes happens with after-market straps.

But I have to be honest here. I ordered the 4 straps with different buckle configurations, without, with a screw-in Pre-V buckle and with a sewn-in Pre-V buckle, so I can better understand the different buckles Micah is offering.

If I could redo the order of the straps, I would have ordered all 4 with the sewn-in Pre-V buckle, this buckle is simply very nice, finish is superb and still changing your buckle with every strap you change on your Panerai watch is not very practical. The sewn-in Pre-V buckle is on the Mauser strap that I you will find in a next review for more details.
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On the watch

The strap is made 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 Goldenrod stitching is a perfect match with the faux patina on the dial!
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The strap on the wrist

The strap feels extremely soft almost like a cautchouc strap, it is by far the softest strap I have in my collection so far. The two keepers are a bit wider than I usually have and keep the strap-tail perfect at its place.
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The keepers

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My conclusion

The Swell Shark strap made by Vintager Straps is the first of the 4 straps I received and I am very excited about this strap. The texture of and the deep structured hide makes the strap interesting and I look forward for the strap to age where most probably a contrast of dark and light blue will arise.

A1990's style shark strap should be a part of any Panerai watch collection and Micah nailed it 100% with his interpretation of that type of strap. Combining a vintage/classic design with a funky blue color give a beautiful effect on the watch.

The thickness of 4mm makes the strap not too bulky and comes the thickness of the vintage-style Panerai OEM straps very near and the Panerai OEM buckle fits like a glove.

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, 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.
Name of the strap: Swell Shark strap
Leather type: Shark leather
Color: Deep Blue
Stitching color: Goldenrod
Width: 26 mm
Length: 135/80 mm
Thickness strap: 4mm
Type of buckle: this came without buckle, used my Panerai 26mm OEM buckle
Type of stitching: machine-stitch
Price range: 150 Euro / 165 USD

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A few additional images of the Swell Shark strap. Enjoy!
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