Watch straps: Leather v. Metal

Though there are many types of watch straps to choose from for casual use when you’re going for a professional look it’s pretty much a toss-up between a leather strap and a metal bracelet. Though there are many other available straps such as NATO, rubber, Zulu, rubber and silicone (more on these in a future article) leather strap and metal bracelet are by far the most popular.

If you’re a watch obsessive like some of us at TWG Watches you have probably faced the eternal dilemma of whether to put on your elegant leather strapped watch or the one with the shiny metal bracelet when you go out, looking anxiously from one to the other until it’s too late to leave home anyway.

In this entry we take a look at some of the differences in each that might make that decision a bit easier to make depending on the situation.

First off, while there are obviously no hard and fast rules for when and where to use a certain type of watch strap there is a general rule of thumb which states that a dressier watch should have a leather strap and a sportier watch should have a metal bracelet – see the Patek Phillipe Calatrava and Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean respectively for examples of each.

That said, there are many factors that can help you narrow down the best strap to use based on where you are and what you’re doing.

Why Choose a Metal Bracelet?

If you’re going to be doing a lot of physical activity it’s probably better to go with the old sturdy metal bracelet. Much as we love leather it notoriously doesn’t stand up well to harsh conditions, tearing and wearing under strain and, while you can potentially polish out large scratches in a metal bracelet, there’s nothing much you can do about a deep scratch on some types of leather apart from cut your losses and splurge on another.

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Liquidmetal

Also not to mention the fact that leather is pretty susceptible to water damage so probably not the best to wear if you’re going to be around water (especially the sea!), going to the Sauna or going outside in Scotland (speaking from experience as a frequently soaked Glaswegian).

Leather also requires the most care so it’s generally better not to wear on a regular basis if you want to keep it in pristine condition whereas a metal bracelet is perfect for everyday wear.

Why Choose a Leather Strap?

If you’re going into the office or going to a business meeting and want to make an impression you can’t beat a stylish leather strap with a sharp suit for an unmistakable air of class.

Patek Philippe Calatrava

From a comfort perspective leather straps tend to be the clear winner here as well. Leather just plain feels better against your skin. The metal used in bracelets tends to conduct ambient temperature so you will definitely feel it if you’re wearing it outside in direct sunshine on a warm day. Likewise metal isn’t famed for its breathability so you may find yourself peeling your bracelet from an unpleasantly damp wrist if you’ve been wearing it all day in the searing heat.

Leather will help keep your wrist cool on a hot day, plus there at least exists bands like the Alligator Straps from Bianca Mosca which are lined with antiperspirant rubber to make them more comfortable in the summer and prevent them from absorbing odours from sweat.

All that said a watch isn’t going to look good if the strap attached isn’t right for the case. Make sure that the colour and style of the strap used is appropriate to the material and colour of the watch case, otherwise your watch and potentially your whole outfit can end up looking just plain wrong!

Follow TWG for more information on the other types of strap and the best time to use each next time when we will be looking at NATO, rubber, silicone, and ZULU straps.

If you're looking for a new watch strap of any kind just fill in our service form and we will be happy to provide a quote for a replacement.