When it comes to timeless styles and top class watch bands, nothing can beat those made from Italian handmade leather. There are several good reasons for that and today we’ll dig into them to see why so many people swear by it. You see, Italian leather is appreciated as one of the best by quality on the whole wide world. Same goes for leather watch straps made from Italian leather.
The first thing that separates these vintage watch straps from the rest is that Italians have a great reputation for caring about the process of leather making. The Italian leather can often be recognized by its smell and looks. It smells like a good wine and that’s is the result of an ancient way of treating raw animal hides. As a matter of fact, Italian leather manufacturers process the raw animal hides with 5,000 years old way that originates from Ancient Egypt.
The process is called vegetable aging or natural tanning and uses compounds called tannin’s, which are extracted from the bark of the trees. The tannin’s are carefully selected and mixed to achieve the desired results in terms of leather color, shine and other attributes such as elasticity, feel and durability. This process alters protein structures in raw animal hides, turning them more robust and durable, but also more flexible for further designing.
But this same process is what gives these vintage watch straps their unique colors that don’t fade out with time. On the contrary, they get even better look with time, as each piece of leather gets its distinctive sheer that is otherwise impossible to mimic. It is because each animal hide is unique and natural processing only preserves its unique attributes. That’s why Italian leathers are so rich in textures and yet clean and delicate. Fine pores and original patterns are preserved to the maximum. Therefore, the natural attributes of the raw material are kept and even improved. For example, you get elasticity and flexibility uncommon for skins processed in chemical ways, which results in outstanding comfort of the leather. Plus, the material stays naturally breathable.
But there are other benefits of choosing the Italian handmade leather for your watch bands, too. For example, the thinner the animal hide is, the better it serves its purpose as a material. Natural processes divide the under-layers of the skin, so Italian animal hides can be divided into 11 layers. Compare that with Chinese, for example, that can give only 8 layers of the skin and it is clear that vegetable tannin’s break deeper into skin proteins of each layer. That’s what gives extraordinary durability to the Italian leather. And it is the main reason why the most of Italian leathers have a lifetime guarantee – because they are made to last.
There are two main varieties when it comes to leather durability: full grain and top grain leather. The Italian leather is mostly full grain, which means that it is the strongest and most durable variety, plus the most resistant to environment or aging factors. The full grain mark means that its top layer hasn’t been sanded or buffed. It also guarantees that you’ll get a unique looking leather with all the original skin marks and nuances. It also looks more natural than top grain leather.
Besides, by using vegetable tannin’s rather than minerals or chemicals in the tanning process, Italians get to make leather suitable for those with allergies. Caring for your Italian leather watch strap is also quite simple – it is enough to occasionally wipe it with a soft cloth soaked in warm water containing a mild soap and let it dry on air.
The whole process of making an Italian leather often takes up to a month and a half. It involves liming, soaking, dyeing and drying before it turns into end product as a material. Only then it can be further shaped into watch straps. That’s why watch straps made from Italian handmade leather usually cost a bit more than leather watch straps made from leather from another origins. And it’s no wonder that so many people are hyped about them. Because, as we all know, timeless takes time.
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Written by M.H.
Photo by Toni