Which would you choose? Genteel Handmade versus VNCrocShop

Friends and fellow watch dorks,

Today, I bring to you a question for the ages.  The moral conundrum is, "Who do you support?  Who's work and vocation are more deserving of your hard-earned dollars?"

On the one hand, you have Genteel Handmade at https://www.genteel-handmade.com/

  • Never have you experienced more supple alligator leather
  • Is it waxy and luxuriant and opulent?  Yes.  Is it as soft as a newborn's behind?  Absolutely.  Does its every perfect stitch and expertly shaped edge demonstrate an unrivaled excellence and attention to detail?  Without question
  • Does the $300 price tag sting?  Indubitably
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On the other hand, you have VNCrocShop on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/vncrocshop

  • The crocodile leather is nice.  It's good.  It's soft and waxy and high quality
  • Is it the pinnacle of excess?  No.  No, it is not.  It is good.  It is adequate.  Do the stitching and the seams exhibit a level of master craftsmanship?  No.  No they do not.  Imperfections are apparent upon close inspection
  • Is the $49 price tag a steal?  Absolutely.  Does the idea of providing third world workers cash and livelihoods appeal?  Without question
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So, which is it?  Which do you choose?

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I am always willing to pay more for high quality leather bands, especially if it was an exotic, unique or handmade.

Have I spent $300 on a band before?… No, but if I had two pieces of that caliber I wouldn’t skimp on the dressings either 😂 

I’d love to shoot that Omega one day… the dial has so much to offer!

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bevelwerks

I am always willing to pay more for high quality leather bands, especially if it was an exotic, unique or handmade.

Have I spent $300 on a band before?… No, but if I had two pieces of that caliber I wouldn’t skimp on the dressings either 😂 

I’d love to shoot that Omega one day… the dial has so much to offer!

What are some high quality leather bands?  I feel like I know where to go now for crocodile and alligator (and chicken foot).  But, otherwise, I end up looking on Amazon for leather straps.  And I'm sure Amazon search results don't produce the highest quality!

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HotWatchChick69

What are some high quality leather bands?  I feel like I know where to go now for crocodile and alligator (and chicken foot).  But, otherwise, I end up looking on Amazon for leather straps.  And I'm sure Amazon search results don't produce the highest quality!

I’ll caveat that YMMV but I’ve had great experience with my strap from Camille Fournet (https://www.camillefournet.com/en/38-classic-leather-watch-band) - it’s the most expensive I purchased at $180 on my Alpina chrono I love. Which was awhile ago.

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As well as some straps from Hirsch (https://www.hirschstraps.com) - surprised I don’t have any photos to show but had good success!

I’ve heard good things about Man Cave Leather (https://www.mancaveleather.com) as well.

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If I were in the position, I would do both. Buy the good shit, and also do the good shit by helping a poor person feed their family. 
 

If I had to choose one? That would be hard. I don’t believe in throwing money at people to “fix” a problem. That doesn’t fix anything.* It feels patronizing, and I don’t want to buy something that obviously had little effort put into it just so I can pat myself on the back. That said, if the third-world craftsman makes a solid-quality item, I’d buy it any day before the one that’s just going to make some rich asshole richer - even if it’s technically “better.”

Granted, I’m what you might call a “stealth hippie,” so take that for what it is. 
 

*see the whole “give an man a fish, teach a man to fish thing”

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I dont see the 300$ price appealing because i wasnt born and am not at a point where 300$ can be some burnout cash.If i had a lot of money od always go for the best quality for the  money even if that led up to some really high prices.Hand made stuff never really hit me nor have i really cared whether a product is hand made or mass produced as long as it satisfies me.Of course if say a friend of mine made me a watch strap id appreciate it way more than any i could buy.

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bevelwerks

I’ll caveat that YMMV but I’ve had great experience with my strap from Camille Fournet (https://www.camillefournet.com/en/38-classic-leather-watch-band) - it’s the most expensive I purchased at $180 on my Alpina chrono I love. Which was awhile ago.

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As well as some straps from Hirsch (https://www.hirschstraps.com) - surprised I don’t have any photos to show but had good success!

I’ve heard good things about Man Cave Leather (https://www.mancaveleather.com) as well.

Dude,  

  1.  That Alpina Chrono is straight up watch porn!  😍
  2.  I am gonna go with some straps from Hirsch!  I bought a crazy horse leather strap off eBay for $20 or something, and upon arrival, it began to fall apart - like those ancient Key Marco Native American artifacts that had been perfectly preserved for centuries in oxygen-less layers of muck, that upon excavation began immediately to disintegrate upon exposure to the air

This looks awesome:

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Thank you so much for the suggestion!  

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OlDirtyBezel

If I were in the position, I would do both. Buy the good shit, and also do the good shit by helping a poor person feed their family. 
 

If I had to choose one? That would be hard. I don’t believe in throwing money at people to “fix” a problem. That doesn’t fix anything.* It feels patronizing, and I don’t want to buy something that obviously had little effort put into it just so I can pat myself on the back. That said, if the third-world craftsman makes a solid-quality item, I’d buy it any day before the one that’s just going to make some rich asshole richer - even if it’s technically “better.”

Granted, I’m what you might call a “stealth hippie,” so take that for what it is. 
 

*see the whole “give an man a fish, teach a man to fish thing”

I like your suggestion:  Do both.  Yes, I will continue to buy the things that make rich A&&^%#@'s richer, and I will continue to buy the solid quality third world items.

You know, John Steinbeck once said something along the lines of "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."  You're a stealth hippie today, but one day, you will be this:

Mr Moneybags | Monopoly man, Funny cartoon characters, Cartoon
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Filip.K

I dont see the 300$ price appealing because i wasnt born and am not at a point where 300$ can be some burnout cash.If i had a lot of money od always go for the best quality for the  money even if that led up to some really high prices.Hand made stuff never really hit me nor have i really cared whether a product is hand made or mass produced as long as it satisfies me.Of course if say a friend of mine made me a watch strap id appreciate it way more than any i could buy.

Yes, agreed.  I think my favorite watch strap, by far, is the one that fellow forum member @Jericho made for me.

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Great topic, as I find myself in the same situation currently. 

I am having my first handmade alligator leather strap for my Grand Seiko white birch shipped to me next week from a local bespoke leather strap maker (similar price tag and blue color with white stitch).

But, I'm also a big fan of more affordable (yet still good quality) straps for higher end watches. I can't see myself getting more than a couple custom straps due to the higher cost, but I appreciate the customized fit and experience you get. On the other hand, it's nice to spread the love and funds around to other more affordable offerings. 

All the best.

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EverydayWatchGuy

Great topic, as I find myself in the same situation currently. 

I am having my first handmade alligator leather strap for my Grand Seiko white birch shipped to me next week from a local bespoke leather strap maker (similar price tag and blue color with white stitch).

But, I'm also a big fan of more affordable (yet still good quality) straps for higher end watches. I can't see myself getting more than a couple custom straps due to the higher cost, but I appreciate the customized fit and experience you get. On the other hand, it's nice to spread the love and funds around to other more affordable offerings. 

All the best.

When you get your strap in, definitely share photos!

Dude, it is not an exaggeration to say that you have changed my life.  It was you originally who'd suggested to me to put my White Birch on a strap.  And ever since then, I have swapped out all the bracelets on all my watches, and have gone strap crazy!  Strap loco!  Somehow, straps really bring out the amazing case and lug designs on these watches, in a way that bracelets seem to only hide.

Or, maybe it's just the novelty, and I'll go back to bracelets in a few months?

Regardless, I owe you for the insight!

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HotWatchChick69

When you get your strap in, definitely share photos!

Dude, it is not an exaggeration to say that you have changed my life.  It was you originally who'd suggested to me to put my White Birch on a strap.  And ever since then, I have swapped out all the bracelets on all my watches, and have gone strap crazy!  Strap loco!  Somehow, straps really bring out the amazing case and lug designs on these watches, in a way that bracelets seem to only hide.

Or, maybe it's just the novelty, and I'll go back to bracelets in a few months?

Regardless, I owe you for the insight!

That Chronoscope also definitely belongs off bracelet and on a strap.   Agree 100% that the dial and case details get overshadowed by the bracelet on that particular watch.  

I think that's why they also call the Speedmaster, which shares the same case design as the Chronoscope, a strap monster.

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Putting cheap straps on a luxury watch feels like putting cheap tires bought from Alibaba on a sports car.  😉

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s0ckpupp3t

Putting cheap straps on a luxury watch feels like putting cheap tires bought from Alibaba on a sports car.  😉

You are spot on!  I learned that lesson the hard way.  

I had an M2 Competition that came with Michelin Pilot Super Sports.  When it came time to replace my rear tires, I did all this research, and the interwebs said that these new General G-Max RS tires were really, really good...  at a relatively affordable price.  I could save $125 per tire!  So, I pulled the trigger.

They sucked!  Ruined the car's ride quality.  When I went on the car forums and complained, everyone just made fun of me.  No sympathy whatsoever.

Never again!  

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s0ckpupp3t

Putting cheap straps on a luxury watch feels like putting cheap tires bought from Alibaba on a sports car.  😉

The same analogy applies the other way too, with expensive tires on a cheap car.

For me, the star of the show is, and should be, the watch. On a budget watch, I want a budget strap - but with either, there is a level of quality I require as the minimum, and a little above that there is "this is a good strap/watch" level, which I would only want to exceed for an exceptional watch.  And "exceptional" refers more to how much I like the watch than how much it cost, but price comes into it too. I am not a flexer, so while the style of the strap should be compatible with the watch, my main criteria for quality are comfort and durability.

I am still figuring out where these quality levels are for me, by trial and error. For a £20 watch from Ali, which had a poor strap, but was otherwise better than expected, I ended up with a £20 strap bought on the high street (from Timpson, of all places). That was not a brilliant strap, but decent enough for this watch, comfy enough for wearing it.

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s0ckpupp3t

Putting cheap straps on a luxury watch feels like putting cheap tires bought from Alibaba on a sports car.  😉

Not always. I tend not to wear leather and steel bracelets if I can, so a decent NATO, parachute or silicone strap for $20 is fine.