We’ve never had any experience with CWS straps prior to this review, but we were aware that they are very well-known in the States, given that they were even featured on Ellen’s show (see here!).
When the straps first arrived and we held them on our fingertips, it instantly became very clear to us that there was a lot of effort and care being put into the creation of these straps by the good folks at CWS. From the stitching to the keepers, the inner lining to the texture and the quality of the leather.
Now without any further ado, let us talk a little more about these straps.
“I find that there is a certain type of ‘synergy’ in the way the large proportions of the strap complement very well the dimensions and rugged character of larger watches.”
Marshall, on the ‘Gentleman’s Collection’
‘Croco Collection’- Grey Croco Leather – USD $14.95
“Damn” said I, with a discernable astonishment at the test strap which Clockwork Synergy had sent me. With a bit of coinciding event planning going on at the time I was asked to do this review, I specifically requested one of their grey crocodile embossed calf straps, as I knew it would be a dazzling compliment to my then-recently purchased Orient Flight with blue dial. From the moment I snapped it’s fantastically convenient quick-change pins onto the lugs of my Orient, I had only high praise for this strap: The ever-dreaded “break in” period was nearly non-existent. The subdued gloss finishing, paired with the moderately large pattern of the strap, lent a perceptible grey-blue tone.
As a whole, Clockwork Synergy is a great company; I believe to my very core, that they genuinely strive to provide a quality product to us consumers without trying to bend us over the coffee table and… Point being, show me another strap dealer/manufacturer who can give you this level of quality at this price point, maintain a friendly and professional attitude towards all their customers, and keep their doors open in an ethical and professional way. No rush, I’ll wait.
Not speaking on behalf of any of my associates- this is purely me: I don’t like plugging for a company just because they asked us to. With that being said, I am thrilled to plug for CWS because they’re just worth it. Bottom line, I thought I was absolutely prepared to roast them in this review, and yet, I still have nothing negative to say. The leather used to make the strap is supple, yet sturdy; it’s an all-day wearer from the get-go. The construction and design is perfect for a guy like myself with relatively small wrists, but if your own wrist is any bit larger than, say 7 1/2”, you might want to inquire about a longer option. In this price range, both finishing and packaging for display/presentation, are bar none. And the hardware is what most impressed me, if I am entirely honest. True, full blown, solid as hell, steel. In your choice of, mind you, brushed, high-polished, gold plated, or IP black. It’s a thick and robust hybrid buckle, though I would adore a single fold-over deployant similar to the one found on nearly all Big Pilot’s from IWC, but… beggars can’t be choosers.
In summary, this little test run has convinced me that quality straps don’t have to come from some dude slaving away at a workbench in his garage, stitch after stitch, and charging you by the minute for their “exotic” and “premium” materials. CWS, you’ve made a repeat customer out of me.
‘Gentleman’s Collection’ – Aged Black Leather – USD $34.95
My strap of choice is an Aged Black 22mm strap from the Gentlemen’s Collection w/ stainless steel buckle.
The first thing I noticed upon receiving the strap was its no-frills packaging, on which the exact model number and type of strap were clearly indicated. Given that some of these straps can look very similar, this is a boon to those who want to make sure they have received exactly what they have purchased (and perhaps have mild paranoia). Though I am not sure if the aforementioned packaging is simply due to the straps we received being review sets, let’s face it, how many of us really want to see an accessory which serves a utile function, such as a strap, come in a case that would really be better suited for the presentation of an expensive timepiece? Perhaps, CWS’s decision to package their straps in simple packaging leads to cost savings which can then be passed on to us customers instead; always a plus point in my book.
While I am no expert in the intricacies of such, stitching quality on the strap is, for the most part, observably impeccable, and well above what one would expect from a so-called el’ cheapo strap in this price range: neat as neat can be, with no visible excess thread ends whatsoever. On the wrist, the strap is likewise enjoyable. It feels extremely sturdy and conveys a reassuring feeling of being able to last a long time. Paired the cult-favourite Seiko SKX007, the strap effortlessly distributes the 007’s substantial weight, contributing significantly to its wearability, a feat not achieved by many other varieties of straps.
This brings me to my next point. Despite the seeming impression by CWS to market the strap as part of a “gentlemen’s collection”, presumably intended to be paired with casual (ish) dress watches, its 6mm thickness makes it a perfect match for tool watches, especially divers, with thick and hefty cases. Not least, the sleek design and finish of the strap makes it a great complement for sportier watches, particularly those with a clean, modern feel.
The quick-release function is extremely convenient; not least, it saves you the unpleasant surprise of having spring bars fly across the room, along with the heartache that inevitably ensues after accidentally scratching the lugs of one’s beloved timepiece with a spring-bar tool. One can only hope to see this feature on more straps of various makes, and CWS’s decision to include the feature, even more so at such a price point, is a winner in my book.
The strap, however, is not without its cons. Out of the box, it was too stiff to wear comfortably, and has a longer break-in period than most (I recommend leaving the strap buckled overnight to accelerate this process). Perhaps, this is to be anticipated given the strap’s thickness and sturdy feeling. The strap’s lining, while certainly far from uncomfortable, doesn’t give you that plush “ahh” feeling you get from higher-end straps. I also noticed a relatively limited number of buckle holes, potentially precluding those with smaller wrists, and many members of the fairer sex. Finally, I found the naming of my chosen strap in particular to be somewhat inaccurate; although CWS claims that it is ‘aged leather’, the strap looks pretty much mint and lacks any artificial ageing or distress whatsoever. This proves to be potentially misleading to customers whom might think they are getting a strap with an aged finish. That said, this should not prove to be an issue if one carefully peruses the photos on CWS’s website before purchasing, which are clear and provide an accurate representation of the product.
There you have it: a durable, well-made and stylish strap at an attractive price point. There’s a lot to like here, despite some minor criticisms. I thoroughly enjoyed this strap, and heartily recommend it.
The first thing I noticed upon initial inspection was a very unique and interesting ‘texture’ on the outer lining. From a glance one might instantly assume the straps bear a grainy, distressed-leather-texture, but to my surprise – that was not the case as there was certainly more than met the eye. A quick rub of the thumb revealed a pleasant buttery feel, quite unlike what one might normally expect from a strap with an apparently distressed texture, an aspect which really piqued my interest.
Unlike Holden’s crocodile leather option, the Bomber straps are thick and stiff from the get-go and require a little more break-in time than the average. Thankfully, however the larger proportions and stiffness did not result in any compromise of comfort, of which, in my opinion should be a paramount attribute when it comes to watch straps.
Albeit being a little too thick for my liking, to me it is still a perfect companion to more substantial and versatile watches like the Seiko SKX007/009 or any of the new Seiko SRP models (i.e Turtle reissues). I find that there is a certain type of ‘synergy’ (forgive the pun) in the way the large proportions of the strap complement very well the dimensions and rugged character of larger watches, as you can see here.
I highly recommend any pairings of this sort. The ‘dapperness’ of the strap really helps shave off a little bit of that crudity and utilitarianism so often apparent in tool watches, instantly ‘lightening-up’ the demeanour of any tool watch.
‘OEM Straps’ – Camo Nato for SevenFriday – USD $14.95
As for the camo nato strap I selected for my SevenFriday P1-1, there really is nothing much to add on here, except it is also of exceptional quality. It pretty much ticks every single box of what one would expect from a great quality nato strap and I am absolutely over the moon with this particular pairing. The camo pattern offers an especially refreshing look, given that most of the SevenFriday-compatible nato straps are only available in solid colours, which can be a bit of a bore at times (especially for a person like myself, who enjoys mixing and matching straps). This particular camo offering really adds a flare of variety in that department, something which I am a big fan of, and it certainly lends a very cool safari-esque look to my monochromatic-schemed P1-1.
At the end of the day, I think we can all agree that there are a lot of things to love about CWS and their straps. In our minds there is no question that these are excellent examples of what all quality yet affordable straps should be. As far as we’re concerned, CWS is a great company, manufacturing honest quality straps and has surpassed all our expectations (mind you, we are SUPER picky when it comes to straps).
Thanks to the remarkable price-to-quality ratio of their products, CWS truly offers fantastic value proposition here. Their customer service is worth a mention too (big shout out to Emily from the Social Media Team for helping us out throughout the course of this review!). Seeing as to just how impressed we are with their products, CWS is, with little doubt, a company we could get behind with.
Lastly, we would like to thank Clockwork Synergy for reaching out to us! It was a pleasure being able to shoot and review these quality straps.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately for our fellow Malaysians, CWS has yet to offer shipping options to Malaysia at the time of this review (May, 2017).
Thank you for joining us in this installment of #strapsmakethwatch, we hope you enjoyed this little review and the new look of the site! Please do give us a follow on our IG page and stay tuned for more reviews and commentary from hereon.
For Team Matick,
Holden, Ken, Marshall.