In early 2017, Daniel Cheek got his start in the watch industry by making bespoke luxury watch bands. Daniel obsessively studied the craft and mastered it at a world-class level. After a year or so, his Nashville TN based Solomon Straps Company began taking off and it wasn’t long until he recruited Clay Katzman to join his team. Their leather straps are handcrafted with very high quality full grain leather, and prices are extremely affordable!
The following leather knowledge is shared by Mr. Clay Katzman who is another talented and skillful young man that helps Soloman Straps grow.
It’s Time to Say Goodbye To Genuine Leather
Picture this. You just got home from a long, strenuous day at work. On the counter sits a package, and inside lies the new watch you’ve been waiting on for weeks. You quickly open up the package to see a sleek, stunning new timepiece. You’re in absolute awe and immediately toss that magnificent beauty on your wrist. Everything looks great, but something feels off. After a little investigation, you realize on the back of the watch band it says “made from genuine leather”. Surely that’s a good thing, right? Think again.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the term “genuine leather” is associated with being top-tier. People see this and think they’re getting superior quality, but in reality, they’re far from it. We wanted to write a quick guide that debunks this “genuine leather“ myth and points you to the highest grade of leather one can get.
Parts of Cowhide:
Before understanding the different types of leather, it’s important to glance at the layout of a cowhide, which is arguably the most popular source of leather. A hide is made up of three main layers:
o Grain: The grain is the outermost layer of the hide. The fibers are very tight which increases durability. The outermost layer of skin is tough in order to protect the animal from scratches, scars, or cuts.
o Junction: The junction is exactly what it sounds like. In between the grain and the corium is a small space where fibers begin to loosen up.
o Corium: The corium is the innermost layer. Oftentimes, this is the thickest part of the hide and consists of loose fibers that are soft to the touch.
Types of Leather:
The grain is primarily made up of two layers of leather. The first layer, known for its lasting longevity, is known as full-grain leather. Since this layer is most susceptible to scars and scratches, it’s extremely tough and durable. Each and every imperfection adds unique character to the leather. To top all this off, full-grain leather ages extremely well, making it the most desirable part of the hide. Once the top layer of the grain has been altered, it's considered top-grain. Top-grain leather is very uniform in appearance and used for more generic purposes, like being used in wallets and bags. Without a doubt, full-grain has the upper-hand in comparison, but at the end of the day both layers are of good quality.
After the top layers are removed, you’ll find what’s known as the split. It’s here where leather is altered the most to give it a more premium look. In reality, the fibers of this layer are very loose, resulting in lackluster quality. And as you can probably guess, the split is home to genuine leather. Once all the layers have been used from the hide, the bits and pieces that are left over are combined together by using a filler backed with a polyurethane coating. In short, if you’re on the search for top-tier leather goods that are made to last, stay away from products made from the lower layers of the hide.
Say Hello to Full-Grain:
Now let’s rewind back to the beginning of this blog. Imagine the same scenario, but let’s replace that cheap strap with one made from full-grain leather, like this slick Bahama Turquoise. Now when you throw the new watch on your wrist, it’ll feel comfortable. Why? Because you’re rocking a watch band that was built to age well over time. The strap no longer diminishes your watch, but rather enhances it.
So, whether you’re on the hunt for a new watch band or a leather bag, be sure it’s made from full-grain leather. （By Clay Katzman）