I started off by taking measurements around my wrist and using my old watch strap as a guide. I designed my new strap; taking inspiration from WWI styles, and drafted a template on paper. My Ingersoll has a glass back where you can see the mechanisms moving, and I wanted to make sure that they were still visible, hence the circular hole. After checking that it would fit I started to cut out the leather pieces using the templates, and I was soon left with several specific cuts of leather. I wanted my strap to be durable so I decided to double up my leather. This would mean a lot of stitching, but I thought it would be worth it in the long run.
After a time consuming process (it took me all week to stitch the pieces together in the evenings) I was ready to start wearing it. I checked that it all still fit, but I found that the leather I had used was very thin and incredibly floppy. After a bit of research I found that you can harden leather and get it to take a shape by using hot water. So I decided to give water hardening a go.
After reading about it I knew that it would shrink my leather, but at the same time it would give the strap more rigidity and shape. I hoped that even with the shrinking my strap would still fit but I was pretty sure it wouldn't be exactly as I originally wanted. Water hardening is quite straight forward in theory, you soak your leather in cold water for 10 mins, and then put it into water that has been heated to around 80℃. I left a test piece of leather in there for roughly 2 mins and it came out pretty perfect, so I did the same with my strap pieces. They shrank a little bit more than I wanted which could have been due to the temp or the timing. I'm not sure.
After wrapping my leather pieces around a bottle to take a rough shape of my wrist I left it all to dry and hoped that I hadn't just ruined a weeks worth of patience. As I'm writing this the leather is almost dry. Yes it has shrunk a little more than I'd ideally like, and the stitching isn't perfect, but for a first attempt at making a strap, and using leather - I'm quite happy with the result. If nothing else, I can wear my watch again.
- Vintage Watch Straps - I love these watch straps!
- Ingersoll Watches
- Leather Hardening - this is where I found out about water hardening
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