Strap Field Test - How water affects watch straps ¶
This summer I had the chance to stage field studies on how different types of watch bands fare in water. You may own a water resistant watch, but if you don't have the right kind of strap on it you don't want to get it wet.
Organic and synthetic materials are the two types used to make straps. Organics encompass all leathers while synthetics offer a seemingly infinite choice of styles, textures, and uses. For my testing, I chose three of the most common materials. Calfskin leather, vinyl canvas, and rubber.
Representing the organics is my Anonimo Cronoscopio's Kodiak leather strap. Kodiak claims that their treated leather will resist water better then others, so I wanted to put them to the test. I used my watch at the lake over a period of four days. The first few days of swimming went well. The strap looked damaged and stained when wet, but once it dried came back to its original colour and quality. On the last day, however, the leather started to crack a little around the holes and a small stain appeared after the strap had dried. My conclusion is that no matter how it is treated leather should not be used in the water. Water will dramatically reduce its longevity and appearance.
For the first synthetic trial, I equipped my Cronoscopio with a Panerai canvas strap and wore it nearly every day during two weeks at the beach. The vinyl fiber is completely water repellent and the strap looked almost identical on the last day as it did on the first day. There are a few downsides. These straps are designed to be worn over a wetsuit so the strap is quite bulky. The strap is a bit awkward on the average wrist and very hard to wear under a shirt. Furthermore, they take quite a long time to dry, because the woven textile retains water. A wet watch band is about as comfortable as wet socks. A thinner vinyl band like the one that comes with the Bell & Ross Instruments would at least partially solve both these problems.
To test the rubber variety of straps, I brought my Alpina Avalanche Extreme Automatic for a weekend at the lake. This weekend was spent waterskiing (attempting to), tubing, and diving off the dock. These are all activities that increase susceptibility to water damage because of the speed at which you hit the water. The rubber strap is 100% waterproof. It dried extremely fast because most of the water would just roll off. To top it off, the strap actually looked newer at the end of the weekend. Finding a rubber strap that is also comfortable is the best solution if you want to wear your watch in and out of the water.
Note: Neither the Anonimo Cronoscopio nor the Alpina Avalanche Extreme were harmed during these studies!