Two gentlemen from Adelaide went on a quest to create the best sailcloth watch bands on the market. The result? Artem Straps.
Rumour has it that aside from the practical concerns of durability and comfort, the creators considered how the material interacted with light, how it felt when you passed over it with your fingers. Sounds like something an artist might do. I wonder where they got the name?
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s talk about sailcloth. Traditionally, sailcloth was made from a variety of materials. The Vikings used wool, for instance. In case you’re wondering…not the best material for a watch strap. More commonly, however, sailcloth was fashioned from cotton, linen, and hemp. The fabric was meant to withstand the rigours of ocean travel, high winds, salt sea air. But while strong, these organic fibres are not impervious to rot. Today, sailcloth is available in a variety of manmade fabrics, from nylon and polyester, to Kevlar and carbon fibre.
So, if you are wondering whether all sailcloth straps are created equal, the answer is no. I have several languishing in the bottom of my watch drawer which shall remain nameless.
Admittedly, at first blush, Artem straps resemble the sailcloth band sold with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. This isn’t coincidental; however, there are several important differences. For starters, the cost of a used Blancpain OEM strap runs about $265USD, and that’s if you can find one. This puts the $85USD price tag of an Artem in perspective.
Next, the material used by Artem is a proprietary synthetic composite. If you want to know what it is, you’re out of luck. That’s a trade secret. After all, the brand’s motto is “Ars est celare Artem” (True art conceals the means by which it is achieved). Nonetheless, I can say that it is supple and conforms easily to the wrist out of the box. It does not need to be broken in. It’s comfortable, substantial, and slick. They hold their shape, and, unlike a lot of sailcloth, they remain clean and largely dust free. But most importantly, they are highly water resistant.
Over the last two weeks, I have worn several different straps on several different watches and I have taken them in and out of the water. They are a dream.
The straps are padded closer to the lugs, but not overly so. They are soft to the touch and have give when pressed. They taper nicely from the lugs to the ends. The top of the strap is agreeably textured in a weft pattern, very much like traditional sailcloth. The back is covered in a rubberized material. The stitching on all the samples I received was immaculate, and I should point out that it is flattened and recessed on the back side for comfort on wrist. The strap uses two keepers. The first is fixed close to the buckle. The second is a larger, adjustable slider.
Unlike the Blancpain, Artem straps come in three lengths: XS (66mm/105mm), Standard (75mm/115mm), and XL (85mm/124mm). I like that. Wrists come in a variety of sizes, why shouldn’t watch straps? Before sending over some samples, the brand consulted with me regarding my wrist size and I couldn’t be happier with the results. They are also available in four different lug widths from 20-23mm. And like the original Model T Ford, they come in any colour you want…as long as its black.
Jests aside, the strap does offer five different stitching colours for those who like to coordinate: Red, Blue, White, Grey, and Black.
In terms of hardware, Artem straps come with handsomely milled stainless steel buckles which are signed with the brand’s logo. The tang is seated perfectly and has been rounded slightly at the tip to preserve the punched holes of the strap. You can also choose quick release, or standard heavy-duty spring bars. Curved spring bars are available as an option from the website, as is a deployant dive clasp. The clasp is stainless steel, robust, and nicely contoured.
Lug Widths (20, 21, 22, and 23mm)
|Material||Proprietary Synthetic Composite Sailcloth|
|Hardware||Stainless Steel Milled Buckle|
Optional: Deployant Clasp (18mm and 20mm)
Quick Release/ Standard Heavy Duty Spring Bars
Optional: Curved Spring Bars
Artem Sailcloth Straps are not dress straps, but they are certainly a cut above a NATO and even a Tropic or a waffle strap. They are stylish and very well finished. I find them to be a perfect pairing for a dive watch or another steel sports watch. With an Artem strap, you could walk straight out of the lake, into a pair of jeans and a polo, and then on to a night out with friends. But what you really want to know when purchasing a luxury strap, beyond sharp aesthetics, is whether it will last, and I have no doubt that it will. These are definitely worth the price of admission. Clearly, a lot care has been taken with this design. In fact, I propose a new brand motto: Artem Straps, Engineered by Artists.
For more information, visit the brand website.
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