The average watch enthusiast is flooded with aftermarket strap choices. Your typical nylon NATO straps abound, and while their design versatility can breathe life into an old watch, I can’t bring myself to wear a nylon strap with anything more formal than a polo, let alone a blazer. Leather options class it up but lack the range of colors and patterns we appreciate from nylon. What is a fashion-conscious watch geek to do?
Waxed cotton straps from Suigeneric, whose name comes from the Latin phrase sui generis, or “one of its kind,” are the answer. They bring the best of both worlds, offering handsome, fashionable designs alongside rugged and sporty versatility. In addition to being the only company creating hand-waxed cotton watch straps, it’s based in New York City and producing a product that fashion-conscious watch geeks are sure to love.
Look & Feel
All it takes is one look at their new Pre-Spring collection to see the brand has earned its namesake. It features designs that are unique and confident but far from over-the-top; unquestionably seasonal, not like an ugly Christmas sweater, but more like a cashmere scarf and tweed blazer. The collection boasts interesting patterns and colors, from herringbone and snowflake patterns to dark solid colors. Suigeneric sent over a houndstooth and a burgundy sample for us to take a closer look at.
The houndstooth pattern is smart and would kill on almost any watch in my collection. The style is a bit funky but still serious enough to carry a venerable classic like the Omega Speedmaster. It’s muted, so a potentially high contrast and bold pattern is instead downplayed by the “wash” of the pattern. The solid burgundy strap is more conservative and equally, if not more, versatile to handle any watch you can throw at it. I particularly enjoy the washed red strap/cream dial combination provided by the Timex Weekender. Both straps feature quality stainless steel hardware.
If you’re interested in making a stronger statement, Suigeneric does sell straps outside of its new Pre-Spring collection, which feature some brighter and bolder styles like stripes and camouflage.
One thing I like about the straps, and this is probably because I have a 6.75″ wrist, is that they’re a tad shorter than your typical NATO (10″ verses the standard 11″), so I don’t need to fold the strap back through the keepers. This may pose some problems if you have a larger wrist or enjoy the folded over look. If your wrist is in the 7″ range and you like a slimmer profile that comes with not having to fold over the strap, then you’re going to love the length of these straps.
My only complaint concerns the stiffness and thickness of the straps. Don’t get me wrong, they feel great against the wrist. They’re double-layered, which means they’re about as durable as it gets, but that level of quality comes with a couple of tradeoffs. First, snaking the strap through the lugs can present a challenge and I should caution you that these straps may not be compatible with just any watch; second, the stiffness yields a more pronounced profile on the wrist. The watch sits higher and the strap itself has more of a presence past the lugs than a nylon strap does; however, I noticed this stiffness beginning to ease up and the strap hugging the sides of my wrist after I had it on for a little while. My guess is that a week on the wrist would appropriately break in the straps and give them a softer feel against the wrist.
Care & Cleaning
Caring for these straps is straightforward, and Suigeneric provides solid packaging presentation with care instructions for maintaining waxed cotton. Always spot clean them (never put them in the washing machine) and avoid repeated or extended contact with anything more serious than rain or splashing. While the straps do a great job repelling water, they’re not 100% waterproof so you shouldn’t look at these straps as a trendy new alternatives for your next deep sea dive.
I wish had known about these before Christmas because I think I could have really blown away some of my fellow watch lovers with one of these straps. Plus, the packaging is fun-sized and easy to gift. They’re $45, and all the wool and tweed in your wardrobe is begging you to pick up a couple. Your officemates might not notice your new Suigeneric strap right away, but they’ll never forget it when they do–and you’re practically guaranteed a compliment on-sight.
Suigeneric straps are sold via retailers listed on its website, and you can also buy the straps directly from suigeneric.com.