Reversible Silk Strap
“Do you expect me to put that cheap strap on my $15k watch?”
(a comment on an IG post of a luxury watch on our first fabric strap)
As first glance, we found the comment on one of our post egotistical and ill-informed. When it settled, we wonder if that person derived pleasure out of calling fabric strap cheap or announcing that he has a $15k watch. Whichever the case, it got us thinking. If we can see ‘style’ purely as it is without the association of price, we may open our minds further from the common notion. If we cannot do so, the following are the common perception
Textile strap = Cheap = Ugly = Poor taste
Leather Strap / Metal bracelet = Expensive = Stylish = Sophisticated
We would like to draw a line down after Cheap and Expensive. ie. following Cheap, it can result in Stylish and Sophisticated. Or, following Expensive, it can result in Ugly and Poor Taste. Simply put, you can look great in casual clothes and horrible in badly made suits. The ultimate factor being individual’s taste (or the lack of it) when it comes to aesthetics.
To make things more interesting, we are wondering if we could place a type of textile strap in the expensive category. Expensive because the material and process caused it to be so and not an arbitrarily inflated price.
Let’s raise the bar higher : we challenged ourselves to create a range of fabric strap that pairs well with dress watches. We were entering unchartered waters again. You be our judge.
Alternative to leather or metal bracelet
We need to go right back to the fundamentals of a fabric strap. What type of yarn should we deploy in this mammoth yet tiny-scaled task? If you have not realized by now, we have used nylon, polyester and poly cotton yarns in our straps. They do not sound very princely as yet, although perfect for everyday use. We asked ourselves :
“What yarn would be fit for a King.”
Silk, of course.
Silk, other than making the finest robes for royalties, were used as currency and stored in national treasuries in ancient civilizations. Branching from Asian to Middle Eastern to European civilisations, this product of desire was so sought after that wars were fought. Our hearts raced and romanticism filled our imaginations with the possibilities of bringing them to our wrists and time pieces.
We engaged quite a few specialists. The amount of time involved in developing an unknown product proved to be too much of a deterrence. After over a year of in-depth discussions, we commissioned a weaver who was just as intrigued and committed to seeing this through. We were little cave divers in the vast ocean of the strap world. It took us on an epic journey!
Our specialist understood the entire process of weaving from dyeing yarns to preparing warp by hand, thread up loom from scratch and weaving them together. Most importantly, deep understanding of weave structure and colour mixing to achieve desired visual effects was key to a great outcome. Our artisan weaver is largely self-taught and has woven jacquard and power loom weaving for 25 years. The modern loom used was custom specified in Germany. The machine is mounted with silk yarn with only a diameter of 0.03mm (similar to the fine end of human hair). There are 112 threads inserted per cm for our strap to enable 2 finished surfaces in different colours so it can be worn on either sides. In fact, the loom was not initially designed for silk yarn. Experience and conviction of the craft and machine allowed the techniques and material to work together.
That is the reason why the finished patterns has so much detail you almost want to view it through a loupe. Each individual strap requires half a day to complete including weaving, setting up and hand stitching. Such a process would not be able to be mass-produced. Can you see the scale of the silk yarn below relative to the hand?
We wanted the structure of the weave to be its decoration as well. No printed graphics to be added onto the pure expression of its weave. We started looking at inspiring patterns from traditional motifs to fractal geometries.
At the end, we agreed on the most unlikely reference of all – patterns of a filing tool. There is a raw, beautiful quality about them. The triangulated repetition would go unnoticed but absolutely stunning when you took time to look at them. It is perfect for our strap. Do they look like an abstract version of an Asian, Middle Eastern or Astec motif? The beauty of it is, it covers most of the above.
The geometry is visualised in a design software, converted into a binary file and transferred to the loom. This weave file is not as simplistic as printing the graphics in 2D. It requires information on the loom if a warp thread is lifted or not lifted. For the weft threads, if it is inserted or not inserted into the weave. The weave file is actually a lifting plan for all threads in 3D. Geek stuff we are sure you all would find intriguing.
Look at the pattern : does it remind you of some guilloche dial pattern? Perhaps one day if we get to dabble our fingers in watch making.
Silk don’t melt or amalgamate with heat
Unlike synthetic yarns, silk is a natural fibre. Holes cannot be punched and left exposed as they will fray. Making the strap without holes was the key to retaining a slick outcome. We managed to remove the buckle tongue and holes with this buckle prototype. We could do with eyelets on the strap but it would turn it into a flieger styled range. We need to keep it clean and good for even dress watches.
Check out our first, raw prototype of the buckle. We already knew from this moment it would turn out great ; )
An idea as simple as being able to wear both sides is implemented here with duo colour. As watch enthusiasts and strap freaks ourselves, surely, having 2 wearable colours on a strap is better than one. Both sides are just as immaculately finished. We can show them off just the same depending on your mood and watch pairing.
Let’s be honest, almost none of us are a ‘one watch person’ when you’re bitten by the watch bug. What is your ratio of watches to straps? 1 to 5 or 1 to 10? We won’t attempt to ask about the number of watches you have.
Hand-sewn for you
We often wonder as consumers what is the big deal with hand finished vs machine finished. When a product is hand stitched, the hand feels for irregularity and that human touch to adjust and fine-tune to make it better is irreplaceable. We would like to think that at the height of AI technology, there will be a place for craftsmanship. All silk straps are hand stitched to finish.
“Do you expect us to put our strap on your most precious watch?”
Yes we do. Cheap or costly, as long as they look smashing!
The wrist test – we went through all that journey not knowing 100% it would have an outcome as good as this. Check out the 4 reversible colours
Special thanks to Paul, Kah Hoe, Tauism and Robert for their amazing contributions.