Strap Review of Custom Straps for Rolex Sky-Dweller:
Strap Review of Custom Straps for Rolex Sky-Dweller – After a long wait, I had finally gotten my two-tone Rolex Skydweller and when I put it on for the first time, I found the thick case and bracelet too chunky for my 6″ wrist. Thinking a nice leather strap could help with the cause and soften the look, I furiously did some research on custom strap makers and after a few exchanges with John Glance of Dangerous9straps, I decided to take the plunge.
John Glance operates out of Munich, Germany, and is a full-time veteran in the industry. His location also gives him proximity and ease of access to the world’s best tanneries and leather suppliers in Italy and France. He takes a very careful and professional approach to understanding your wants and your timepiece, he also makes recommendations for materials, colors, and options in order to help achieve your desired look. Measurements are down to the millimeter, and you can expect sample pictures, writeups, and descriptions of options in order to fully understand what you are actually getting.
With my SkyD sporting a black dial and gold bezel, I wanted a very dark brown and a dark blue strap – one for everyday wear and another for standing out a little sometimes. After going back and forth, we decided on a Tobacco Ostrich Leg strap as well as a France Croco Navy Blue Alligator strap.
Fast forward a little here and for reasons unknown, the France Croco Navy did not make it to me… but John was active in resolving the issue and by that time I had already received my Tobacco Ostrich, so it served as a good reference for me to decide that I wanted another shade of dark brown as a replacement to the original Navy strap. We decided on a France Croco Chocolate Noir Alligator.
This review will compare both the Ostrich and the France Croco in tandem.
Ostrich – Ostrich leg is hard, really hard, and makes for a super durable material for watch straps. The look though is very interesting (to me, though it might not be for everyone) as it has asymmetrical grain and scale patterns throughout the strap. If you are looking for a material to stand out from the crowd and a conversational piece, this is it!
France Croco Alligator – France Croco is regarded as one of the world’s premier leather suppliers, and this is indeed a very premium material. Most of John’s France Croco swatches are limited and do not ever get restocked. My Chocolate Noir is soft and supple, yet looks like it can withstand years of life as a watch strap. Right out of the pouch it was obviously a little stiff, but it took almost no time to soften up and contour nicely around your wrist, much like a new-but-seasoned feel. I think nothing rivals this in everyday comfort.
Tobacco Ostrich – In all honesty, I was looking for something which looked dark (almost black), with a differentiation under certain light conditions. The deepness of the tobacco here achieves that very well, and it gives off an understated look most of the time. But when you notice further you know something else is going on with this strap, and it makes you want to see more and find out more, which was exactly what I wanted. You can definitely tell it’s not black but it is super dark to complement the dial and contrast with the bezel 95% of the time.
France Croco Chocolate Noir – I can’t think of a better name for this strap, because it is chocolatey in nature but has a very rich dark tone to it, so under yellow lighting, it also looks almost black (but not as dark as the Ostrich). Under white light or sunlight, different shades of brown come into play (as you can see from the pictures). It is very very difficult to describe and photograph this strap well because it never turns out like how it looks! Not a bad thing in my opinion, because you (and others) will be constantly glancing at it while it catches and casts light in dissimilar brownish tones all day. Personally, I would have preferred if it was a tad darker (as per the raw swatch) but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out as it also looks markedly different from the Ostrich. The initial sheen that came with it also has faded slightly, so in my opinion, it has a great balance right now. Not too matte for it to look very dull, nor too shiny for it to look like a cheapo fake croc strap. You can ask John to regulate this sheen before your strap is shipped, and I believe it’s easier to buff a strap for it to look shiny than to mute it unless the raw swatch is already a matte one. I’m no expert and I stand corrected of course.
Ok, I’m gonna tell a story here and if you don’t wanna read on just remember the moral of the story: IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE, ALWAYS GO FOR 12 O’CLOCK SIDE TO USE WITH EASY-LINK!
Remember that I had ordered 2 straps initially. The Ostrich reached me but the Gator didn’t. The Ostrich felt snug, very very snug from the get-go and I thought the material would soften up over the next few days. Guess what, it didn’t. I felt as if the back of the case was pushing into my wrist and the sides of the straps and deployant was also pushing into my skin. Normally John makes the 12 o’clock side NOT TO fit with the easy-link so it’s just Attached directly to the clasp, and I was already on my last hole, so I had nowhere to go! I emailed John and told
him about this and because the strap cannot be lengthened (obviously) the only way was to modify the 12 o’clock end to fit the easy-link and see how that would turn out. So I sent the Ostrich strap back to Germany for this mod, and at the same time, we decided to add 7mm to the original measurements for my replacement France Croco Chocolate Noir.
So I ended up with an Ostrich which is compatible with easy-link, and a Gator that doesn’t (but is longer).
Ostrich with easy-link – In my opinion, the perfect fit and option. I love how you can tighten or loosen up anytime during the day with just a flick and it also provides more room for when you put on some weight. The overall fit is also MUCH more comfortable now, with nothing pressing or pushing against the skin (more on this later). It’s just sublime and feels really nice.
France Croco without easy-link – I can’t wrap my head around why this is so, but even after the addition of a full 7mm, this strap still feels snug. The feeling that the strap is constantly compressing against the skin remains. It’s better than the previous one because it’s longer now, but the feeling is still there. So I have a standing theory about this and I’m not sure if I’m right, but here goes.
Because of the thickness of the material and how it connects to the deployant on the underside when the clasp is fully closed the metal of the buckle is unable to be flush with the deployant, but instead, it gets “pushed” back into your wrist, as the strap is simply too thick.
Compared to the easy-link fitment, that part that connects to the underside of the deployant is very thin and can remain within the boundaries of the deployant cover. I think the pictures should show what I am trying to say.
John has taken this feedback very well and like a true professional who is always aiming to improve and provide the best customer service, has indicated that he is advising incorporating this easy-link fitment for all future customers whose watches come with an easy-link (and who chooses the deployant option, of course). Kudos to John.
I shall combine the reviews here. I think the Tobacco Ostrich turned out way better than expected and might be the one I prefer, simply because of its great dark tone, how the material is edgy and adventurous and something you don’t see often on the streets, as well as the fact that it fits much better. However, the France Croco Chocolate Noir Alligator gives off an air of upscaleness, superiority, and class. It’s refined while also different from your usual boring black and dark brown tones. It elevates the watch if nothing else. The entire experience with John Glance and his team though has been nothing short of spectacular. They are all courteous, professional, and always aiming to do better.
If you notice how the straps are fully flush with the lug and the watch case, it’s because John developed the Thick Curved Lug System (TCLS) and extra padding at the lugs to make sure that look and fit is achieved. He also has a Fully Integrated Fit (FIF) option that you could go for if you are into that. All these are add-ons though, along with even more options like exotic inner linings, and double/triple stitching, well since it’s a custom-made strap, the options are almost endless and you can create something really special. I had contrast stitching done (brown thread on one side and black on the other) but it’s so subtle to the naked eye I believe only I know about it.
Do bear in mind though, that depending on order volumes there could be a waiting list before he makes your strap; and if you are across the pond (like I am) shipping exotics could result in significant delays (this is in addition to worldwide shipping delays due to the pandemic). I won’t say for certain how long the entire process takes but in my experience definitely months instead of weeks.
But a customized strap is not a life and death issue, and I’d say that the wait was definitely worthwhile. If I were thinking of a nice strap for my expensive timepiece, Dangerous9straps would always be a top contender. Gosh, even the pouch that comes with your custom strap order is handmade in-house and looks super cool!
Happy Holidays, Blessed Christmas, and onward to a great 2021. Happy New Year!
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