Over the past two weeks, I’ve been wearing the leather straps pictured above. I’ve worn them almost everywhere. More on that "almost" later. During those weeks, I’ve alternated between three styles: hazelnut vintage, gray vintage, and taupe (pictured above left to right). All are Everest straps, and yes, Everest is a company I work for. Still, my thoughts on these straps are my own, as are the pictures: real, worn products picked from the same stock as everyone else’s. All that said, let’s take a closer look at these leather straps. How do they fare to real wear?
The Basics: Materials, Hardware, and Sizing
Everest is known for curved end straps: those that feature a seamless strap-to-case connection. While these are great options, they’re only compatible with specific references (namely Rolex, Tudor, and Panerai references). The leather straps at hand are universal leather straps. Compatible with 20mm or 22mm lug-widths, these straps feature a flat spring bar system that’s standard across most watches. While we’re on the subject, these spring bars are fixed within the strap, featuring a “presto” system that allows for easy toolless installation and removal. If you’ll notice, there are small knobs on the undersides of either end of the strap. Instead of using a spring bar tool, you simply use your finger to put tension on the spring bar and install/remove the strap.
Everest offers two main styles of universal leather straps. The main difference comes down to the stitching. Those with four broad stitches around the case are labeled 'vintage' (above, left). This minimal stitching provides nice textural contrast and a casual look. All other straps feature stitching around the entire perimeter (above, right): a bit more sophisticated and formal. Both styles are offered in multiple colors and finishes: vegetable tanned leather, waxed suede leather, and Chromexcel leather.
Every universal leather strap is available in two sizes: regular and long. By my own measurements, the regular size totals 195mm in length, while the long totals 213mm (both excluding the buckle). On my 170mm wrist (~6.75in), the regular size is a nice fit. I would only recommend the long version if your wrist is in the 185mm to 200mm range (7.25-8in).
The hardware is consistent across all of these straps. The quick-release spring bars and tang buckles are made of polished 316L stainless steel. I love the fact that the buckle isn’t much wider than the strap itself: this makes for a refined look. Despite its elegance, this buckle is rock solid. You won’t experience any play, or worse yet, the dreaded clicking you’ll find with cheaper alternatives. I’ve bought many Amazon straps in my day – the build quality here is in a different league entirely.
Leather Watch Straps: My Thoughts and Experiences
Well before I fell down the watch rabbit hole, I loved the look of a gray suede strap with minimal stitching: what we call the Gray Vintage Universal (pictured above). On a stainless steel watch, something about the textural contrast and simultaneous color congruency just does it for me. The broad off-white stitches tie it all together; it’s the perfect casual strap. Naturally, I bought the cheapest option available on Amazon. While it checked the visual boxes, the materials were clearly inferior, the underside began to crack, and the hardware was far from confidence-inspiring. Every time I secured the strap to my wrist, I felt a nerve-wracking click from the buckle.
Upon receiving the Everest Gray Vintage Universal, I realized what the Amazon sellers were trying to emulate. The more I wore it, the more I appreciated the strap's solid steel hardware, hand-brushed Italian suede, and general feel on the wrist. Even the packaging it came in was above par: a reusable soft-touch plastic container that’s perfect for travel (pictured below).
A leather strap on a watch is like syrup on a pancake; it’s just how things are done. Look at some of the most influential watches in history: the Cartier Santos, Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, Rolex Oyster – all of these watches were originally created on leather straps. It's strong, comfortable, and will never go out of style. I don’t have to explain why leather is a good material; humans have been using it for nearly half a million years. A quality leather strap is a staple in any watch collection.
Now – let’s get into why I wear these straps almost everywhere. In short, leather isn’t waterproof, and it’s certainly not sweatproof. John Mayer said it best on his second episode of Talking Watches: “You sweat right through one of these babies – you wanna get a stinky band, you wear these on stage”. While I love leather for its comfortability and looks, I can’t wear it hiking, swimming, to the gym, etc. Because I love to do those things, the NATO-style strap gets more wrist time for me personally. That said, if I’m going out for dinner, walking the dog, or just writing at my desk, I love wearing a leather strap. It feels at home on pretty much every watch, and with quick-release spring bars, it’s a 5 second process to install. With nine configurations to choose from, Everest Universal Leather Straps are a no-brainer for any watch collection.