Your watch can be more than just a handsome face
If clothes really do maketh the man, then a quality timepiece surely sets off the clothes. The addition of a stunning strap can lift that mechanical marvel, and your ensemble, to another level.
"A beautiful, hand-crafted strap can change the entire feel of a watch," says Martin Goh of luxury watch retailer Monards.
Much more than a simple tethering device, the strap should be a crucial consideration for buyers who home in on detail and craftsmanship.
Melbourne men's stylist Sally Mackinnon says a great strap is one of the small yet crucial details that can lift an outfit. "Immaculately styled men look for something that complements the outfit, but also stands out from the outfit," she says. "For me, it's all about those subtle components."
A fascinating timepiece such as Louis Moinet's recent Jurassic Tourbillon - constructed with fragments of 150 million-year-old fossilised dinosaur bone - demands an equally intriguing strap. The selection of stingray galuchat - the rough, abrasive hide of the 'ray - framed with a white gold clasp adds a technical twist to a $250,000 model limited to just 12 examples worldwide.
Exotica aside, the search for select-grade leathers or rare materials paired with beguiling craftsmanship has led some of the world's best watchmakers to forge partnerships with fashion designers or shoemakers who may themselves have never set foot inside a Swiss manufacture d'horologie.
Hublot tapped into the brilliance of Parisian shoemaker Berluti to create the Hublot Classic Fusion Berluti Scritto, a timepiece that pairs a strap of Venezia Scritto calf leather - embossed with 18th century calligraphy - with a unique dial gilded in matching leather. An Italian shoemaker, Santoni, sources and constructs straps of soft, beautiful leather for IWC model lines such as the Portuguese and Portofino.
Roger DuBuis channeled the catwalk swagger of French shoemaker Raymond Massaro, whose shoes sell for around $A4500, with a collection of luxe women's bands, known as Velvet by Massaro. Jaeger Le Coultre, meanwhile, roped in cult shoe designer Christian Louboutin to celebrate the 85th anniversary of its iconic Reverso model with a harlequin-style strap.
A statement strap needn't come bundled into the price of purchasing a quality Swiss timepiece. As men continue to experiment stylistically with colour and texture, an increasing number of options open up to bring new life to an old favourite with the purchase of a strap made by hand to your own specification.
Ateliers such as Paris's A.B.P. can create a bespoke strap from materials such as shark, python and alligator - even elephant or hippopotamus, if conscience allows. These can be combined with 300 stitching colours, hundred of linings and 20 different thicknesses. Prices commonly range from $A450 to $A1100 for straps that may take up to a week or longer to complete.
For a quicker fix, a number of other dedicated strap makers can do justice to a quality Swiss timepiece with a selection of high-quality, pre-produced straps, including Di-Modell, Shinola and Rolex specialist Everest Bands.
"Tie some element of your watch to some other element of your outfit," advises Mackinnon. "The gold clasp on your watch band might pick out the gold buttons on a blazer, or the colour of the band could work with a colour in the tie.
"You see those people at the races or on the street who are just immaculately put together, everything is well-chosen. It's little details that add the 'wow' factor."