December 9, 2022
Upping the Alpinist’s Strap Game With a Hirsch Liberty

I received the strap from TotalWatchRepair.com, the strap is what I wanted (and I live in Canada, they are in the USA). They also charge $5 less than Amazon does for the same strap. They’ve got watches, straps, bracelets, tools, and tons more. Definitely worth checking out.

Changing a Watch Strap in Three Easy Steps

  1. Remove the old strap – Using a springbar tool, remove the old strap. If you are unsure of how to do this, follow the steps in the above video.
  2. Swap the spring bars – Take the spring bars from the old strap and place them in the new one.
  3. Throw the new strap back on – Be sure to have the short end (usually the one with the buckle) at the 12 o’clock position.

Tools You’ll Need

  • Spring bar tool
  • New watch strap
  • Soft towel or cloth (so you don’t scratch the crystal)
  • Patience (especially if it’s your first time)

Remember…

  • Practice on a watch you aren’t in love with. You’re going to scratch the lugs up the first few times you go at it- don’t do it to a watch you’re going to be heartbroken about.
  • The entire process, once you’ve gotten the hang of it, is about 4 minutes.

Compared to the Stock Strap, the Hirsch Liberty is Quite the Upgrade

Compared to the Hirsch, the stock Seiko strap feels rubbery and almost fake, as if it’s not real leather. The Hirsch feels supple, comfortable, almost luxurious.

The white stitching, which gives the Liberty an unmistakably sporty feel, is a great compliment to the green and gold tones on the Alpinist. I really love how the stitching almost meets the lugs exactly, creating the illusion that the stitches were designed for this watch.

Almost immediately, it’s clear that the Hirsch is a step above the stock leather. There’s none of that stiff leather feeling that usually comes with new straps- it molded to my wrist almost instantly.

Understanding Different Grades of Leather

Not all leather is the same (as clearly demonstrated by the chasm that exists between Seiko’s strap and the Hirsch currently on my wrist). There are four grades of leather used in watch straps: Bonded leather, Genuine leather, Top Grain leather, and Full Grain leather. As a rule of thumb, bonded leather is the “worst” and full grain leather is the “best”.

Of course, the quality of the strap itself plays a big role, so don’t let the grade of leather be the sole factor in your purchase.

Bonded Leather

  • Around 90% man-made fibers, 10% natural
  • Not “real” leather
  • Tends to wear quickly
  • Recommended that you avoid

Bonded leather is made up of leather scraps that have been broken down, milled, and then glued together. This type of leather wears quickly and won’t do your watch justice.

Genuine Leather

  • Better quality than bonded leather
  • The most common leather used in inexpensive straps
  • Often finished to look like it’s higher grade
  • Not a bad choice, especially for watches that are worn infrequently

Most straps under $100 are going to be made with genuine leather, and the Hirsch I’m currently wearing uses it.

Top Grain Leather

  • Durable, strong
  • Used in high end car interiors
  • Free of scars and most visual defects
  • Can be quite expensive

It is not uncommon to find higher-end watches using top grain leather for their straps. However, if you’re in the affordables market, chances are that a top grain leather strap isn’t quite worth the investment.

Full Grain Leather

  • The best quality leather you can buy
  • Wears extremely well, looking better with use
  • Quite durable and long-lasting
  • I wouldn’t buy a full grain strap, but I sure do want one…

This type of leather is durable and sports all the scars and visual defects that the skin of the animal it came from had. The ultimate in luxury.