Every so often you buy something that really raises the bar in terms of quality. Such products are generally made by a company or individual who is enormously passionate about what they do and who has worked on their skills and techniques over the years to get to the very pinnacle of their game. The product could be anything, the perfect cup of coffee, the very finest bespoke suit, hand blown glass, anything, but when you find them they are a real pleasure to use and to have.
I have found such a product and such a company.
The company is called Atelier du Bracelet Parisien (or ABP to make things easier for us British types) and is found in the heart of Paris, the very epicentre of high end fashion. A family run business which cannot fail to impress with the quality of it’s wares. They specialise in bespoke, luxury watch straps for high end watches and I am going to be as bold as to say that you will be hard pushed to find a more exclusive or better quality watch strap anywhere else in the world – they really are that good!
ABP will make you the perfect strap, custom built for your watch and to your own specification and design. The choices are vast and so whatever type of strap you are looking for ABP can make it for you.
So how does it work?
First of all the type of leather is chosen. Now this is no boring job, oh no. This is not a case of choosing calf or alligator and a matter of black or brown. This is where it gets fun! The leather choices are more than you could imagine in your wildest dreams, anything you want from Alligator and Lizard to Ostrich, Emu, Toad or Beaver Tail. Even Python, Camel and Sea Snake are on offer and the colour choices are certainly not limiting. Being the shy and retiring type I opted for a red Turkey Leg leather which has the most beautiful texture and is soft and tactile.
The next job is to decide upon the measurements of the strap. The strap can be made to fit your existing OEM pin buckle or deployant buckle and can be made the perfect length for your wrist. This is where the wonderful and talented artists (and I use that word deliberately) at ABP can help and advise.
Then you get to choose how padded the strap should be. Whether it should be heavily padded like Breitling straps or more flat in profile. Next up is the stitching, whether you want it hand stitched or machine stitched and whether you want contrasting stitching or stitching the same colour as your strap. This is an opportunity to add a little personality to your strap.
The choice of the shape of the end of the strap is next, then the style of the edge of the strap and the number of keepers (that little loop which you tuck the loose end of the strap into to keep it tidy). You can even have your name or initials embossed on the lining if that appeals.
Your order is processed and each detail that you have chosen to make your strap your own is carefully noted.
You’ve done your part now and it is all down to the skilled people at ABP to do their magic. This is by no means a “how to” of watch strap making, more a few highlights that ABP kindly allowed me to share. They were careful to keep hold of their trade secrets and I don’t blame them!
The leather is selected and cut (it is selected from the hide carefully as the hides often have different texture and patterns within it so the selection can make a huge difference to the look of the strap). This was selected with enormous attention by the leatherworkers at ABP for my strap and I was really pleased with the way that the pattern of the leather was balanced on both sides of the strap. It is attention to detail like that that really makes these straps the very best that you can buy.
The stitching can be done by hand or machine. You can see here that my strap was machine stitched and below you can see that the upper stitch thread is red to match the red turkey leather and the lower thread is tan to match the leather lining.
After the desired number of holes are made then your strap is finished and shipped to you (by this stage you are no doubt far too excited and have been eagerly awaiting the postman’s knock on your door!)
When my strap came by UPS I could not wait to get it unpacked. The anticipation was enormous, but not as great as the satisfaction and pleasure I felt when getting my first glimpse of this unique strap. The smell was like the interior of a brand new Rolls Royce, the Turkey Leg leather was supple and soft with a deep and luxurious finish and every detail was just as I had hoped. Every stitch was perfect. It was better than I had hoped and it is for this reason that I will be buying from ABP the next time I need a special strap.
The only thing left was to fit it to my watch. The strap changing technique can be seen in our strap changing article. A few minutes later I was sporting my vintage datejust furnished with a unique strap of unquestionable quality. Could I have found the world’s finest bespoke watch strap maker?