Stuff to know about leather grades when shopping online for straps
Have you ever noticed that any olive that you are likely to encounter in real life has a size grade that makes it seem big?
Or were you around when the FDA suddenly changed the "ice milk" category to "low-fat ice cream"?
These kinds of offical gradings are heavily influenced by industry pressures.
I bought a leather watch strap the other day off of Amazon. The strap was a thick strap with Panerai-style buckle. Everything about it is fine, except the texture of the leather is really weird, and not very leather like. Had I been scammed and given pleather or some other fake leather product?
The back of the strap was stamped "Genuine Leather." That's good, right? Turns out, no. Here's what I've learned since about leather.
o "Full-grain leather" is the good stuff.
o "Top-grain leather" has the top split off and is sanded and stamped with a new fake leather texture or is painted with a texture.
o "Genuine leather," what I bought, is the plywood of leather. The odds and ends of the lower layers of leather are glued together in a Nutraloaf fashion and bonded into a sheet which is sanded down to be smooth. The texture may be suede-like. If it's not suede-like, that's even worse, since some sort of additional processing was involved. This stuff is never going to look good nor age well.
The straps sold by small craftsmen, such as the stuff here on Massdrop, is no problem. But beware stuff sold online that doesn't explicitly say full-grain leather or have a photo of the craftsman working with an obviously full-grain hide.
A similar situation obtains with carbon fiber watch cases. Real carbon fiber is formed from sheets of carbon fiber fabric molded into plastic. But in general, carbon fiber watch cases contain powderized carbon fiber mixed into plastic. This weakens the plastic rather than strengthening it, but it allows for the marketing department to call the plastic "carbon fiber."