5 grades of leather watch straps

The leather watch straps are divided into 5 grades: Full grain, top grain, split grain, genuine and bonded leather. Each grade represents different attributes of the leather and can contribute to durability, wear-resistance, and how the leather feels next to your skin. Let’s find out the features of each grade in this article to help you choose the suitable one.

Material sources of leather watch straps

If you’re considering purchasing a leather watch strap, you should be aware of what you’re going to get yourself into. It’s critical to learn everything there is to know about leather, including where it comes from, how it’s graded, and how it’s used in watch straps.

While cows produce the most leather, other species’ leather is also used in the industry. These are some of the other animals:

  • Alligator
  • Crocodile
  • Sheep
  • Pig
  • Goat
  • Cow
  • Snake
  • Ostrich
  • Shark
  • Stingray

Alligator and crocodile leather is the most costly and sought-after leather in the world because of  its limited numbers of crocodiles and the lack of reputable farms and tanning facilities to process and prepare the product for market. Cowhide leather is generally one of the most affordable kinds of leather, even if many finishes and quality grades that can greatly affect the final price exist.

5 grades of leather watch straps

Do you think purchasing a watch strap that notes  “Genuine Leather” implies you’re getting the best of leather? Rethink your position. When you choose a genuine leather strap, you’re just scraping the bottom of the barrel.

There are many grades of leather, just as there are various sources of leather. Leather comes in a variety of grades and comes from a variety of sources. Here’s a rundown of the five different leather grades available, from highest to lowest quality, and what each one signifies.

  • Full grain leather
  • Top grain leather
  • Split grain leather
  • Genuine leather
  • Bonded leather

Full grain leather/Full Aniline leather – Leather with the highest quality

What is full-grain leather? Full-grain leather is made from the most durable portion of the animal’s hide and has excellent grain. In full-grain leather, all of the inherent features of the leather—imperfections and all—are evident. A full-grain leather watch strap will last longer and resist wearing out better than any other type of leather. Three features separate full grain from other leathers: strength, uniqueness, and graceful aging.

Strength: Full grain is cut from the strongest layer of the animal’s skin. The grain and the fibers at the surface are so tight that it resists moisture and remains breathable after prolonged contact.

Uniqueness: Full grain is also the most unique of the leather types. It is dressed in raw features that tell a story: from its scars and bug bites to its century old branding. Rather than sanding them away like most types of leather, full grain is left in its most natural state.

Aging: In addition to being the most durable leather, full grain ages gracefully, creating what is known as patina. Patina is a fancy word for when the natural oils from your hands and the outdoor elements absorb over time, creating various tones and a smooth sheen to the finish of the leather. It’s kind of like when you break in your favorite pair of jeans or boots; patina tells the story of where you’ve been and how much you love the product.

Top grain leather

What is top-grain leather? The second finest quality of the leather is top-grain. As the name indicates, this grade of leather originates from the top cut of the animal skin, much as full-grain leather. 

Top-grain leather, unlike full-grain leather, is processed to remove blemishes, scars, and other defects. This leather is made by shaving off the middle layer of grain. An oil coat is added to top grain leather providing a slick and uniform finish to almost all of its products. That’s why most higher end brands use it. The outcome might look sleek, but the oil reduces the leather’s breathability and prevents it from developing a natural wear over time. However, it makes top grain leather more water resistant than full grain.

Top-grain leather watch straps will endure a long time, but they will not age as well as full-grain leather watch straps due to the manufacturing procedure. Though it might look great when you buy it, if it’s a product you plan to use every day, don’t expect it to grow old with you.

Split grain leather/Suede leather

Split leather is produced from a top grain. It would be the second or sometimes third cut below the surface, then heavily pigmented and embossed with an artificial grain texture. Split leather is created from the fibrous part of the hide left once the upper portion of the rawhide is separated from the hide.

Split-grain leather watch straps are ideal if you value comfort above quality or simply like suede. Split-grain leather watch straps are incredibly soft, smooth, and flexible.

Genuine leather

Before you reach the flesh of the cow, the last layer of the cowhide holds genuine leather. Genuine leather is often used as the buzzword for a product that is “technically leather” and given way more credit than it deserves. It may appear high quality, but don’t be fooled – this is considered the lowest quality of leather. Genuine leather watch straps are only 50% as strong as an equal size of full grain leather and weigh about 10% less. This leather is usually treated, painted, and pressed smooth to copy the look of full grain leather. If its surface is left with a fuzzy texture, then it becomes a piece of suede material. 

Genuine leather is often mixed with 20% plastic. But since 80% remains leather, it is still considered “genuine” leather.

Genuine leather is an affordable alternative to high-end options. As such, this leather works well for everything from backpacks to briefcases, but it is far less durable than full or top grain.

Bonded leather/ Faux leather

In terms of quality, bonded leather is the worst of the bad. Bonded leather watch straps are actually a mix of both real and fake leather. It is made from the leftover scraps and fibers made from processing leather mixed with a polyurethane binder. These fibers are then rolled together using adhesives to bond them onto a paper backing. Some manufacturers may add an additional coating of polyurethane to the bonded leather and emboss it so it has the texture of real leather. 

Most bonded leather consists of only 10-20% real leather. Some manufacturers market bonded leather as real leather, when it in fact only contains a small percentage of real leather. There are many people who think bonded leather is genuine leather, and manufacturers sometimes label bonded leather as real. 

B.A Handmade – Premier quality full grain leather strap provider in the US

B.A Handmade specializes in design, manufacture and supply of quality watch straps. All leather products are meticulously handcrafted or imported with clear origins. Sophisticated leather materials with neat lines are the advantages of watch straps at B.A Handmade. Moreover, all of our products are made from full grain leather – the best sort of leather available nowadays. 

Many customers have trusted and chosen leather watch straps at B.A Handmade

You can choose your leather watch straps HERE or request your own customized leather watch strap. Besides, when you buy a leather strap at B.A Handmade, you will get a free needle buckle and strap replacement tools.

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