There’s something kind of magical about how a new strap can make a watch feel completely different and uniquely yours. Especially when you're at the local meetups and can immediately tell your watch because it's styled just to your tastes. Some collectors even have strap-watch combos with a story all their own. We asked members of our community to shine a light on how they style their watches (with straps and beyond) through this recurring series, Watch Couture.
The strap that saved a watch from the auction block
If you're like me, you spend just a little too much time coordinating your outfit with your watch. From matching watch straps to belts and boots, to deciding what color shirt offers the right amount of contrast to complete 'The Look'. Sometimes I wonder if people even notice, but I know I do. Let me set the scene for the watch - and strap - that I have for you today; This is a COVID story.
May, 2020 saw me ring in my 30th birthday on my own. I'd been working 16 hour days since March and the exhaustion was real, having no one to celebrate with (no one I knew that well, on the job, anyway) just hurt a little bit more. While looking at offers on Reddit (The Watch Exchange) during a rare break, and there it was - The Ball Engineer Master II Officer. A 46mm manual wind with a Flieger theme - I bought it on the spot. When it arrived, I was over the moon, but it didn't take long for me to realize that I wasn't so big on the strap - a vintage inspired dark brown that really didn't match anything else I wore to work, and I couldn't easily swap it as this was the first 22mm strap I'd ever owned, so back in the box it went.
That was, until I found this beautiful saddle brown Nubuck strap from watch gecko ( it's not sold anymore, but a similar one can be found here ). This was the strap that would complete 'The Look'. A nice brown/black contrast to go with my professional and casual attire for the months and years to come. The funny thing is, the acquaintances at the office thought I had bought ANOTHER new watch when they saw that strap, which lead to an ice breaking conversation, relationships being built, and even lasting friendships - all these years later. This strap, on this watch, allowed me to feel like a human being during a very dark and otherwise isolating time.
The sleek watch on my wrist is a Timex-but this is a modernized version of the 1970s Q Timex that was a highly celebrated watch in its time. This 40mm piece has a unidirectional bezel, and an exhibition case back showing the automatic movement inside. It came with a stainless steel bracelet that I really wasn't a fan of. It constantly pulled the hairs on my wrist and just didn't fit me right. Enter this J Crew Nato. My good friend, Ryan, also a Watch Strap King, swapped that clunky bracelet out for an 18mm bright orange J. Crew strap, and it made the watch not only standout as a conversation piece but made it one of the boldest watches I have in my growing collection.
Jorge Ortiz III has been collecting watches for nearly 5 years, and is always at the center of the NYC Watch Collector Scene. His passion for watches and their stories quickly evolved into a passion for connecting with people, from fellow collectors at their first meetup to making new friends at random encounters across our great city. Professionally, he works in Emergency Management - When an incident arises, he is helping to coordinate resources and response efforts to communities in need.
Casimir Gregory is a New York native and a neophyte in the watch world. His interest in watches began during the pandemic and he has since fallen down the rabbit hole of automatic sports watches and vintage finds. Currently, his favorite watch brands include Omega, Panerai, Grand Seiko, and Benrus. He's an actor and content creator and most recently, a watch model for Hodinkee (and a few other surprises coming later this year). When he isn't auditioning and writing, he can be found coaching boxing and training clients.