Hermès watches are extraordinary for a wealth of reasons: their technical perfection, original styling, and creative design elements, to name a few. But one element that makes an Hermès watch truly stand apart from other luxury timepieces is the outstanding quality of its strap.
An Hermès leather watch strap is nothing short of a work of art. Each strap is meticulously handmade by a specially-trained leather artisan, who is responsible for every aspect of band’s creation from start to finish. A single strap takes at least 2 hours to create – much more for specialized straps – and if the final product is deemed to have even a miniscule flaw, it is discarded. Only 80% or less of the straps made during a given year meet the company exacting standards.
Thanks to superiority of the crafting and high quality of the leather, your Hermès strap should last for years. Nonetheless, you’ll want to take certain precautions to keep it in the best condition and prolong its life. Below we discuss the two most popular types of Hermès watch strap leathers and how to care for them.
We hope you enjoy your beautiful Hermes watch and strap for many years to come!
Barenia leather is considered the quintessential Hermès leather. The natural chestnut-colored calfskin was originally used to create the company’s legendary saddles. Later, it was used for a select number of handbags, including the popular Birkin bag. Today the brand primarily uses it for watch straps, such as the Cape Cod, and other small leather goods.
Sourced at a single company in the Alsace region of France, Barenia leather is an excellent natural material for an everyday watch. The skin is durable yet supple, and delightfully smooth to the touch. Being oil-absorbent, the leather is largely scratch-resistant (light scratches can be rubbed away with a fingertip) and also has strong water resistant qualities. Over time the leather darkens and develops a glossy patina.
To best care for your Barenia leather watch strap, regularly wipe it down with a soft, lint-free cloth to remove dirt and moisture. You may use a damp cloth to clean, but be sure to thoroughly dry the strap with a soft dry cloth afterwards. Never immerse your strap in water or use a wet cloth to clean it.
For a deeper clean and conditioning, Hermès recommends bringing it in for treatment. If you prefer to do it yourself, use pure glycerin saddle soap to clean and treat with a high-quality leather conditioner*. Clean and condition your strap no more than once per season (unless needed) so as not to weaken the leather.
Even though the strap is water-resistant, avoid getting it wet when possible. Avoid putting perfume or skin creams on your watch band, and remember to remove it when performing exercise, heavy housework or cooking. When you’re not wearing it, keep your watch in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
Alligator hide accounts for approximately one-third of all Hermès watch straps. Robust, supple and highly elegant, it is known as the crème de la crème of exotic leathers. A single alligator belly produces only four Hermès straps.
Alligator leather may require a bit more attention and than calfskin, as it dries out easier which makes it prone to cracking. Clean your alligator strap with a damp lint-free cloth once every few months. If you prefer to use a cleaning product, then choose a product specifically for exotic leather. Avoid household cleaning products and cleaners appropriate for bovine hides, as these can completely ruin alligator skin.
After cleaning, always apply a high-quality conditioner. The membranes in alligator skin are the key to its flexibility and a good conditioner helps keep those membranes moisturized and supple. Beeswax is considered one of the best natural products to use to condition reptile skin products. To use, apply the wax to a soft dry cloth, and then rub the cloth on the strap. Allow to dry (away from direct sunlight) and repeat. Finally, buff the strap with a soft cloth. For best results, use extra-fine 100% beeswax.
To keep your alligator strap in best condition, avoid getting it wet or even sweating excessively on it. Put your watch aside when performing housework or menial labor. Store your alligator strap in a cool, dark and dry place in a natural position.
*When using a cleaning product or conditioner for the first time, always test it out on a small discreet area to test for discoloration before applying to the entire strap.