Almost 2 years ago I made my first watch strap for a dear old friend. And then a long process of studying this product and its segment began, which included - market research, dozens of corrections and numerous adjustments of test products.
In November 2019, we were ready to establish the production of our own watch straps. I already understood that this is not the easiest of the products, because watch straps require very meticulous, almost “jewelrish” work. If we are talking about the stitching on the bag, for example, the deviation by 1 mm will remain almost invisible. In contrast to the watch strap where it immediately catches the eye. If you make a money slot in the wallet 1 mm shorter it will not affect anything. But if you make a watch strap 1 mm narrower or wider – it is a defect, because it can no longer be attached to the watch. So, I expected difficulties. But to really get the ideal result was even tougher than I expected, I managed it only 1 year later.
I spent months and months experimenting, learning different techniques, working with different people, spending money on supporting materials and tools, hiring professionals from different fields in order to achieve production stability. Of course, you can make a wonderful strap in only one unique example with the production time of three days. But I tend to optimize processes and maintain the highest quality. Therefore, it was necessary to work out the mechanisms and canons of the production. At the same time without losing the charm and unique features of handcrafting. And the ideal result was finally reached after all the hard work. Now we have a big range of Alligator leather and Horween leathers, which we love so much.
Essex and Chromexcel are already familiar to you. As well we offer you the most expensive non-exotic leather - Horween Shell Cordovan for your watch strap. Additionally, on the exotic side we have added the Stingray, Ostrich and Alligator leathers. Of course, we use only the best-quality materials of ethical origin from the certified European and American farms. We strongly oppose hunting of the wild animals and do not use leathers that come from not specialized and not certified farms.
I am very proud that my diligent work has been rewarded with the attention of connoisseurs of exclusive and premium goods from the United States and Spain. After their purchases, they shared their sincere impressions at some of the most popular watch forums. Here are a few quotes from their reviews of our Balabanoff watch straps at the WatchUSeek forum:
“Overall the leather is high quality. It is very supple, soft, and does not require much break in. The alligator straps represent a very good value. Easily worth the price. The stitching is impeccable. It’s even, and just beautifully executed. ”
"Overall I could not be happier with the purchase. The strap was exactly what I was looking for. A simple, clean, supple watch strap that was a touch longer than stock for my wrist. The quality was as good in real life as the advertising photographs, if not better."
“I think the look of the watch with this strap speaks for itself. The strap is just perfect for my watch. Alligator leather has a very good texture, pattern and shine. Now the watch has become much more comfortable and, most importantly, much lighter.”
Materials and production
Balabanoff watch straps consist of several layers of materials.
Usually these are:
1. The upper layer of leather. Alligator, Ostrich paws, Stingray, Horween Shell Cordovan, Chromexcel or another.
2. Then we insert a special material that prevents the strap from stretching on the hand and at the attachment points to the watch and buckle. We use a high-tech non-woven fabric which is only 0.12 mm thick and was developed by Hermes. They use this material for ultra-thin wallets, bracelets and also Hermes watch straps.
3. Then, if the strap model requires it, there is a special leather filler to give the strap extra volume and make it padded. We form a "podium", made from vegetable tanned leather and thus it provides the silhouette for the comfortable and right anatomical shape of the hand. We are currently researching the technique of forming paddings from the innovative TPU material, which will be produced in Ukraine. This synthetic material is more elastic and, unlike leather, can be returned to its original shape after deformation.
4. As the bottom layer (that comes in contact with your hand), we use vegetable tanned leather without dyeing. It is an anti-allergenic material without chemical impurities.
5. The strap is sewn completely by hand in the French seam style. Holes are also prickled by hand with a special tool.
Depending on the type of leather, we use either French punches Vergez Blanchard, which are produced since the 19th century till nowadays by the same technology and tradition. And they, by the way, are also used by the world-renowned company Hermes. Or we use the new high-tech analogues, which create the thin elegance of the seam. The thread lays down more smooth.
So, as you can see, the creation of even 1 watch strap demands a lot of manual work. And because of the whole process described, the production of 1 strap takes almost the whole day.
Maybe shall you use less manual work and make it more automatic? - You may ask. The fact is that the result will be worse. There are thousands of unknown watch straps out there – all the same. You can find them everywhere. Stamped and soulless. However, we produce only exclusive things at Balabanoff workshop. Our artisans make your own watch strap by hand – just for you.
At this stage, it is fair to state that Balabanoff watch straps are the best in terms of quality and price. Despite all of these, we are always ready for the new experiments: custom orders and cooperation with watch distributors, manufacturers and private collectors.
Every day we continue to improve and expand our skills, craftsmanship and knowledge to provide you with the best quality, goods and service ever.