When it comes to straps, we have been accused on more than one occasion of ‘overdoing it’ – Yes its true we probably have more than our fair share of NATO and leather watch straps – and if you’re witnessing an industry shortage we will gladly offer an apology. We are great fans of straps that we can wear anywhere, and to that end, you’d be right to ask: “why on earth haven’t you looked at sailcloth before now?” Well please excuse us for taking our time – we aim to fix that now!
While both Rubber and Nato straps are very practical around water and great if you’re at the beach or purposefully dressed for a wet occasion, they are not the most aesthetically pleasing straps for general wear. And while leather straps can really elevate the look of a watch, getting most leather straps wet will shorten the lifespan at best or destroy the strap at worst. This is where technical fabrics like Sailcloth and Cordura can excel. However just like leather straps – the devil is in the detail. We have seen and tried straps over the years from a number of sources and while these may have been inexpensive, they certainly weren’t ‘premium’ straps. However, Artem straps have been making quite a name for themselves and even go so far as to claim they are:
The home of the finest sailcloth watch strap on the market.Artem Watch Straps
We decided to reach out to Artem and see what all the fuss is about and they kindly sent us a range of straps to see for ourselves. What we have here represents the whole range of sailcloth straps and buckles from Artem which includes the traditional look ‘full-black’ sailcloth strap, Artem’s loop-less sailcloth strap, their Blue sailcloth strap and their recently launched Panerai sailcloth strap along with their traditional ‘tang’ buckle, Omega-style deployant, and butterfly deployant!
Firstly lets discuss the elephant in the room: the material. Artem sailcloth straps are not made using ‘genuine‘ sailcloth. Whilst sailcloth materials are aesthetically pleasing and robust, the way they feel on the wrist and on the skin in general, is not comfortable. The upper side of Artem’s strap is made from an embossed synthetic material whereas the underside is a leather base coated with a layer of natural rubber (caoutchouc). This has resulted in a technical fabric strap that embodies the same key requirements of sailcloth, is more comfortable to wear and due to its hydrophobic treatment can be happily used in water with a premium texture and comfort.
As standard, Artem sailcloth straps come on their standard tang buckle. This is a well made traditional buckle that is laser etched with the Artem Logo. In a similar way, their Panerai straps come with a ‘pre-vendome’ Panerai style buckle again laser etched with Artem’s logo. However Artem do offer a butterfly deployant clasp that can be fitted in place of the the standard buckle. The principle benefit of the butterfly clasp is that it offers an easy upgrade path for someone who bought a strap with a traditional tang buckle (whereas their omega-style deployant options are purposely designed straps that cannot be mounted to a traditional buckle). This is ideal if at a later date you’ve decided you’d like to move up to a deployant clasp without having to change your entire strap. The only downside to the butterfly deployant is that both ends of the strap are secured using a screw and while this certainly adds a level of security preventing the strap from accidentally coming away from the clasp and your watch falling to its fate, that singular screw is somewhat difficult and fiddly to mount. However once secured to the correct size, the butterfly clasp works well. To open the clasp, simply depress the screw head style buttons on either side of the clasp. Once the first side is opened the other side can then be released.
However as an alternative (and one we would highly recommend!) take a look at Artem’s loop-less deployant straps. These are a more expensive option for two reasons. Firstly and most obviously, they require an omega style deployant clasp rather than a tang buckle for mounting, which you will need to purchase in addition to the strap itself. Secondly, the construction of the strap itself is different as it has a bonded rubber element stitched over the holes. This assures that the integrity of the holes and the strap are not compromised as the clasp is inserted through the strap.
Most straps are available in 19,20,21 and 22mm which is a refreshing change amongst strap suppliers and extremely helpful as a number of modern watches including those from Omega, Longines, Rolex and many others now have 19mm or 21mm lug widths. Straps are also available with the option of quick release spring bars which are ideal if you intend to switch between straps with any level of frequency and at the same time protect the underside of your watch from the vast quantity of scratches associated with the use (or misuse) of spring bar tools! In addition, all buckles and deployant clasps are available in both steel as well as PVD to match to look and feel of the watch you’re pairing it to.
Artem’s design considerations really demonstrate their attention to detail. For example, Panerai owners will be very aware that Luminor straps require (but do not come with) metal tubes or ‘collars’ that get inserted into the straps themselves so that when the screw is inserted there is no wear due to friction on the strap itself as the collar rotates freely on the screw. Artem clearly understand this and have already considered this within their design by pre-installing collars within the straps. It’s touches like this that show they understand both their products and their customers as this is not something other strap suppliers even consider. In addition, all of their buckles can be removed and replaced by your existing buckles if you’d like to maintain that ‘OEM’ look.
Over the course of the last year, we have have thoroughly tested these straps both in and out of water, in summer and winter and can attest to their quality and construction and so far have noticed no notable degradation to the construction or visual aesthetics of the straps.
Since their humble beginnings in December 2019 in Adelaide (just a short walk from the world famous R.M. Williams boot makers) Artem straps have designed, manufactured and shipped thousands of straps to destinations all across the world. This would be an achievement in itself if it were not for the fact that within only a couple of months, the commercial environment became even more challenging during the coronavirus pandemic – bringing huge challenges to the manufacture & supply chain. Despite this, Artem have gone from strength to strength expanding their range with with straps in black, blue and now olive green – all available with contrasting stitching in a range of sizes from 18-23mm as well as straps in 24mm for Panerai’s Luminor range.
Looking forward, Artem are looking to introduce more colourways to their line-up, as well as establishing regional stockists across the globe which will help with shipping times & availability as well as delays to consumers dealing with import taxes – and these are just the start of their plans.
Artem have pulled one out of the bag delivering high quality, comfortable, durable sailcloth straps at a sensible price. We would certainly not hesitate to recommend them to anyone out there interested in a good sailcloth strap for your dive watch – or any other watch come to think of it!
Go take a look for yourself over at www.artemstraps.com
Prices starting at: £69 GBP