Perhaps one of the hardest decisions when we shop for a wristwatch is “leather or metal band, which one is better?” Watch collectors normally get both kinds of watch bands, but if you just simply want to buy a single watch to wear from day to day, you must decide to choose one out of the two materials.
If your taste runs into sport watches, chances are your favorite pieces feature a stainless steel bracelet or a rubber strap. Why? Because genuine leather is not suitable with sporting activities. Your sweat would soak through the strap and it will break off sooner or later. If the stock band of your sport watch is made of leather, it must be replaced in more than one year.
Rubber strap is ideal for a sport watch, but when the piece also has to play the role of a dress watch, a metal bracelet is more appropriate. Take dive watches as an example, they’re often available on rubber strap or stainless steel bracelet. Most of the buyers who choose the rubber strap version are ones who would use the watch in true diving adventures, the metal band version would serve as a versatile watch, which looks good with formal apparels as well as wet suits. (See top 10 affordable men’s dive watches here!)
A metal band would give you the solid feel by its weight and hardness. It’s also much more durable than leather strap. You just have to polish the metal band to erase minor scratches on it, but with a leather strap, you have no other options but replacing it with a total new one. And you know? Finding an aftermarket leather strap which is well matched to your watch case can be quite a chore!
However, there’re some shortcomings that make people say NO to metal bands:
- Skin irritation: In hot days, you sweat would collect under the inside of the band and cause irritation. In those days, you will find yourself take off the watch a few times just to wipe of your sweat.
- Heavy: Well, not everyone likes a weighty metal band, some would find it too heavy for them to feel comfortable, they want something lighter.
- Not as dressy as leather: Needless to say, a leather strap often makes your watch more elegant-looking than a stainless steel bracelet. This rule cannot be applied for every watch, but at least for the majority of timepieces.
As said above, a leather-strap watch tends to be more exquisite than its metal-bracelet cousin. That’s why a lot of dress watches feature an alligator strap. A well-made leather band would give your watch an appealing classic look that is very suitable with formal occasions. It’s also much more comfortable to wear a leather strap than a stainless steel bracelet. No more irritation! No more heaviness! And the most interesting is that a genuine leather strap would twine around your wrist tightly after a few weeks of using.
However, similar to metal bands, these leather straps also have some flaws that you have to accept:
- Smell: Yes, when your sweat doesn’t collect under the band, it would soak through the band instead. After a few months of using, your leather strap begins to be bad-smell. You have to take it off the watch and bask it in the sunlight to avoid this issue.
- Short-lasting: a buffalo or alligator strap cannot sustain physical abuses better than a metal band. You might change the leather strap a few times throughout your watch’s life.
- Faux leather: it’s easy to evaluate a metal band’s quality, yes, you can feel it through your hands. But with leather strap, an inexperienced buyer might confuse between the faux and the genuine. It takes a little knowledge about leather to buy a high-quality strap without being caught with chaff.
Leather strap or metal band? Each material has its own pros and cons, that’s why they don’t eliminate each other and co-exist in the watch market. You had better go to a local store to get the real feeling before making the purchase. Lots of people only make their decision through pictures on retailers’ websites, and then get disappointed when the watch band is not as comfortable as they thought, or it just simply does not suit their using purpose and routine.