Saturday, October 22, 2011

Introducing Our New Two-Piece Shell Cordovan Strap

We'll get right to the point. This is the best leather watchstrap available. Period. Here's why: It's extremely thin, very comfortable, waterproof, looks great when new and gets better with age, won't rot or start to smell like gym shoes, and it will last for years.

First, it is a single layer of leather. This is unheard of in quality watch straps. The reason is that all hide leather has a skin side and a suede side. While all hide leather absorbs moisture, the suede side sucks it up like a sponge. Therefore, all quality leather hide straps have to use a double-layer construction so that the suede side(s) are concealed. The best straps also have the raw edges folded over and tucked in before sewing or gluing. This is called the art manuel method of construction. All this folding, gluing, stitching is done by hand and adds cost, thickness, and lateral stiffness.

Even when an ordinary hide leather strap is made using these proper techniques, it will absorb sweat and eventually rot or smell. A famous German manufacturer of high-quality hide leather watchstraps recommends that you replace your leather strap every six months. This is realistic. Think about those leather moccasins that you wear without socks in the summer. Ick.


All of these problems go away with Shell Cordovan. Why? Because shell is not hide. It is a muscle that is located below the skin (hide) of horses, and only on their buttocks. (Yes, we've heard all the jokes!) Added to this, the Horween Company takes six months to tan the product by adding oils and waxes to enhance the natural waterproof nature of the shell. The result is miraculous. A waterproof, supple, and great-looking "leather" that is unlike anything else.

Shell Cordovan has traditionally been used for shoes, for obvious reasons. Shell Cordovan shoes and boots have been known to last for decades. When future general George S. Patton began to serve as an aide to General John Pershing during WWI, he immediately copied the General by ordering a pair of custom-made Shell Cordovan boots, a style he famously wore the rest of his life.


No! Only mature animals that have died of natural causes are used by the Horween Leather Company for their shells. While Shell Cordovan was once made by a number of leather tanneries in the USA, for many years, Horween has been the only remaining maker of Shell Cordovan. They have made it in the same way since 1905. No other tannery in the world makes genuine Shell Cordovan.

A word here about Japanese "Shell Cordovan." There have been persistent rumours that a Japanese tannery has recently begun to make "shell cordovan." Here is the real story. In Japan, horse meat is a food product. It is considered a delicacy and often eaten raw, like sushi. As a result, horsehide is a by-product of feedlot slaughterhouses. Shell Cordovan is hugely popular in Japan, especially for shoes, and rightly so. We sell a lot of our watchstraps in Japan. But Japanese-made "shell cordovan" is not the same product as our genuine Horween Shell Cordovan!

Horses are livestock in Japan. They are specially bred for food, slaughtered when young, and are raised under very different conditions than riding horses in the USA. The musculature in the horses hind-quarters never develops to anywhere near the extent of American horses. While these animals' hides make excellent reproduction WWII flight jackets, the shells cannot be used to product top-quality Shell Cordovan.

Beware of products that falsely claim to be made of Shell Cordovan. The word "Cordovan" is often used to describe a certain reddish-brown color of any kind of leather. (This color is available in our Horween Shell Cordovan as "Oxblood.") It does not by itself indicate Shell Cordovan. Unless you see the Horween Shell Cordovan Stamp on the back of the leather, it is NOT genuine Shell Cordovan.


Available in 18, 19 or 20 mm widths, with a slight taper. 19 and 20 mm tapers to 18 mm at the buckle end; the 18 mm tapers to 16 mm. The shell is so thin (less than 1 mm) that we cannot produce these two-piece straps in larger widths. (For watches with 22 and 24 mm lug widths, we recommend our Shell Cordovan NATO straps.) All genuine, and incomparable.

$115 with free Priority Mail Shipping world-wide.

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