How To Take Care Of Leather Watch Straps: Tips To Preserve Their Beauty And Increase Longevity

Leather is a natural material that requires proper care and attention to maintain its beauty and durability. In this post we're go through some tips to help you preserve leather watch straps, and make them last longer.

nenad pantelic profile photo Nenad Pantelic • May 20, 2023

leather watch straps

Leather watch straps are a classic and timeless watch accessory. We love them because they look great, especially after a few months of wear. But, leather is a natural material that requires proper care and attention to maintain its beauty and durability. In this post we're go through some tips to help you preserve leather watch straps, and make them last longer.

Avoid exposure to water

Leather is highly sensitive to water and moisture. Here is why: When water evaporates from leather, it takes with it some of the natural oils present in the skin. These oils are attracted to water molecules, and their loss results in the leather losing its flexibility and becoming rigid and fragile.

Nothing worse than to see your leather strap crack over time.

For that reason, it is important to avoid wearing your leather watch strap when swimming or in the shower.

suede and nubuck leather watch straps in cloth
Suede and nubuck straps can be especially sensitive to water exposure.

Staining can also occur from water as it has the ability to wash away small amounts of dye used to color the strap.

Keep your straps clean

Regularly wipe your leather watch strap with a dry, soft cloth to remove dirt and dust. If necessary, use a damp cloth to gently clean the surface. Just avoid using any harsh chemicals or solvents that could damage the leather.

Use a leather conditioner

To keep your leather watch strap supple and prevent it from drying out, apply a small amount of leather conditioner. The easiest way to apply is to use a soft cloth.

It's important to read the label of a conditioner to check compatibility. Different leathers have varying sensitivity levels to chemicals and oils. For instance, suede or nubuck leathers may demand particular care and products to preserve their texture and color without causing any damage.

watch leather cream
Leather cream for a smooth leather finish

Leather straps can have different finishes such as smooth or glossy, matte, or natural. It is important to select a conditioner that does not damage the appearance of the strap or leave behind an oily residue. For instance, wax-based conditioners might be more suitable for smooth leather.

Our recommendation is to apply the product every 6 to 8 weeks.

Good conditioner should perform two functions:

Natural oils are a key ingredient of quality conditioners, often accompanied by beeswax. Beeswax forms a protective layer on the exterior while the oils are absorbed into the leather.

If a leather conditioner is in the form of a cream or paste, it should melt and easily dissolve when you start applying it to the strap.

Over the years I have found numerous threads where people were recommending products for leather care. Here are the most common suggestions:

A word about products you already have at home. While olive oil, vegetable oil, and other heavy oils can moisturize leather, they may cause faster breakdown and are not recommended for frequent use.

Keep your leather straps away from the sun

Sun and heat are also enemies of leather straps. Leather is naturally porous and as such will release moisture and natural oils when exposed to excessive light or heat. This causes it to become dry, lose flexibility and ultimately become brittle and crack.

A leather conditioner also helps here. Frequent application of a product will help to protect the leather from fading and cracking due to exposure to sunlight.

Store your straps properly

When not in use, store your leather watch strap in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid wrapping it in plastic, as this can trap moisture and cause the leather to become moldy.

leather watch straps in cloth storage
Keep your leather straps tucked into the cloth pouch

The easiest solution is to store them in the fabric material.

Final words

By following these simple tips, you can help to preserve the beauty of your leather watch strap and enjoy it for many years to come.

Average lifespan depends greatly on the climate conditions in you area, but in general they should last for more than a year of wear.

In the end, when a leather strap gets smelly, worn out, and completely stiff I think it’s truly time to toss it away and replace it with a new one.