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Posted by Cuckoo Nest Art Studio on Jan 22nd 2018

The History of Leather Watch Bands

At Cuckoo, we’ve been making custom leather watchstraps for over 10 years. Of course, leather watchstraps aren’t our invention. In fact, they’re not even a new product, even though they might be new to you. Leather straps were already used by our ancestors thousands of years ago, and even leather watchstraps go back several hundred years.

Leather Bands

Genuine leather is typically made from animal skins. This could be cow, goat, sheep, or pig. More exotic animals were also used for creating leather products, including alligator and lizards. This isn’t as common anymore, because many of these animals are now protected, and the public view on using their hide has changed.

Humans have probably used leather from the beginning of time. Since people don’t have protective fur, they would make fur or leather coats before leaving warm areas like the Fertile Crescent. The Fertile Crescent is the region between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, which was first settled by humans due to its mild climate and readily available water and food. Leather wouldn’t just be useful for clothing, but it was also a workable material for creating straps to pull things or to make harnesses for animals. It still would take a few thousand years to be used as for watchbands.

The Pocket Watch

When you see old movies, you may notice that men don’t wear wristwatches. Instead, they pull out an expensive pocket watch to find out what time it is. This watch often had a metal chain and was clipped to a coat or jacket pocket. It could also have been placed in their pants’ pocket. At the time, a man might have also carried cash or cigars, but they weren’t lugging around cell phones and tablets as well. That means there was enough room for a watch.

Even though women had been wearing dainty watches on their wrists, that wasn’t something a man would have done. Watchbands were just not considered suitable for a man at the time.

Another reason watches were put in jacket pockets was to keep them safe. Many watches were expensive and fragile at the same time. Since people tended to be very active, a big watch would have to be protected from getting scraped or otherwise damaged. The pocket was a safe place to keep it and pull it out to check the time when necessary.

The Boer Wars and World War I

You may wonder, and rightly so, what wars have to do with watchbands. Let us explain:

The Boer Wars were fought from 1899 to 1902 between the British Empire and what is now South Africa and Swaziland. Both areas were colonies of the British Empire. Much like the United States, the people in Southern Africa fought for their freedom. The word Boer is Afrikaans and Dutch for “farmer”. In Southern Africa, it was the farmers who were fighting for their independence from British rule.

During the war, it was hot in South Africa. Consequently, the fighting men would take off their vests or jackets to cool down. But the vest or jacket was where they were keeping their watch. They still needed to be able to tell time, and that is where the wristwatch suddenly became a necessity.

Some people trace back the idea of a wristwatch for men to World War I; others say it happened as early as the Third Burma War from 1885 to 1887. The historic background was the same. It was too hot to keep the vest or jacket on, and the watch needed to be worn on the wrist instead.

In 1906, Alfred Pearson, a London saddle maker, first fashioned some wire loops at the end of a pocket watch. He called the product a wristlet, which doesn’t sound quite as appealing as a watchstrap. Then he settled on finely tailored saddle leather to use for his watchbands, and it became popular.

Watch Bands for Men and Women

For men to wear a watchband, the design had to be different than the ones for women. Leather material became popular, because it was perceived as rugged and “manly”. Also, wearing a watchstrap was now a necessity, because you could keep it within sight. But a watchband doesn’t have to be purely practical anymore. At Cuckoo Nest Art Studio, we fashion beautiful leather watchbands that will stand the test of time. Our leather straps are suitable for men and women, and we have a variety of designs to choose from.