Hey everyone, just wanted to bring up a topic that can maybe go into a bit more detail as to what 'Genuine Leather' is, and what it entails, along with some sort of subjective grades it can be put in. I think most people would agree that 'Genuine Leather' can be quite ambiguous, and straps stamped 'Genuine Leather' vary ever so greatly in quality. So I'll make this as much of a statement, as I pose a question as well.
So here is my understanding from my research, after I started to go into the seedy leather underworld to find the true meaning of the word.
From what I understand, and correct me if I am wrong, 'Genuine Leather' is quite bad. Only really a step up from bonded leather, but even then, the lines are blurred sometimes. Many manufacturers, especially Chinese manufacturers, mark all their straps as 'Genuine Leather' but we know that this is deceiving, and usually you get what you pay for, so chances are it might be polyurethane. But putting the deceivingly marked Chinese straps aside, lets say we have a $8 Timex 'Genuine Leather' croc embossed strap. Is it safe to assume that the leather is split leather? Perhaps there is a low grade cut of leather, I am assuming the scraps of top-grain and full-grain leathers, and it is very fibrous. They take this cut under the top-grain, and cover it in a polyurethane coating, and emboss a crocodile, lizard, or some other calfskin template on the PU. Is it safe to assume that this is what the majority of simply put, 'Genuine Leather's' are?
I recently bought a top-grain aniline dyed leather strap, and I have immediately noticed the difference in quality. It was dyed with a soluble dye, so it keeps the grain of the leather on top, just changes the color. Even then, it shows signs of being an unfinished or very lightly finished top-grain leather strap, as it doesn't appear that they have done anything more than a light brushing on it, so maybe this is what piqued my interest. I am aware that many of the more expensive, independent and hand-crafted leather strap suppliers generally use full-grain, or top grain aniline dyed leather, or sometimes natural vegetable tanned and colored leathers. But with all this being said, is it really safe to assume that companies like Hadley-Roma, or even Seiko, Citizen, Tissot, etc, all create or use suppliers that produce standard low-grade 'Genuine Leather' that has a plain embossed PU coating? Maybe I'm just disappointed after doing all this research on it, but it seems like some of the more affordable watches, use this deceiving type of leather. After-all, if it is PU coated and embossed, and with the addition that most 'Genuine Leather' straps are padded, with a thin suede or PU belly, is it safe to assume that there is very little real (albeit poor) leather in the strap in the first place?
The more I do research into leather, and grades of leather, the more I realize, and the more I am told about the complexity of the process. Any comments, corrections or additional information as it relates to Genuine Leather would be appreciated. Thanks!
(Edit; some of the things I say are a bit hyperbolic, and just to be clear, I am not saying all genuine leather is shotty, I know there are decent genuine leather straps out there, just talking about the 'mainstream' ones)