Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

Thread: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

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  1. #1
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    Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    When I was looking for watches at local jewellry stores, time and time again the one question I would throw at them for watches in the $1.5K to $3.5K range was:

    "Is this strap real alligator/crocodile skin?"


    Inevitably whether it was Oris, Baume Mercier, or any other brand I asked about I always got a befuddled answer which amounted to "maybe." My favourite response was from a high-pressure saleslady for Oris who said "it's a very expensive watch... it must be real."

    I have one watch strap I brought off ebay which is unequivocally stamped "GENUINE ALLIGATOR" on the back. Why does this seem like such a rare practice with watch makers? I could never once find that stamp, even on Cartier watches!

    I am extra worried about the genuineness of these straps since I'm in Canada which places all kinds around the import of genuine exotic leathers. I'm worried that even if some of these companies use real alligator/crocodile in other markets, they might quietly swap it for embossed calfskin in Canada to avoid headaches.

    Is this a common experience for other people? Is there any way to tell the real from the fake just by looking at it?

  2. #2
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    Re: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    Don't know why they can't answer, but croc straps are expensive.

    Someone posted the one below in the Tag forum. $500.

    http://www.authenticwatches.com/brei...ang-strap.html

  3. #3
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    Re: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    Quote Originally Posted by jblaze View Post
    Don't know why they can't answer, but croc straps are expensive.

    Someone posted the one below in the Tag forum. $500.

    http://www.authenticwatches.com/brei...ang-strap.html
    I'm not surprised that they're selling for $500. But people shouldn't take that to mean that the a crocodile strap like that is actually worth $500. By all accounts, the markup on replacement parts from watch manufacturers is astronomical. On that strap you're paying something like $150 because it's genuine crocodile and $350 because it's an official Breitling strap.

    IIRC, just a new stainless steel clasp for an Omega SMP is $250. A comparable OEM stainless clasp can be obtained on eBay for $12.50. So even if the manufacturer charges you an arm and a leg to order stuff like this seperately, they can add it to the watch for chump change.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    Quote Originally Posted by omairp View Post
    I am extra worried about the genuineness of these straps since I'm in Canada which places all kinds around the import of genuine exotic leathers. I'm worried that even if some of these companies use real alligator/crocodile in other markets, they might quietly swap it for embossed calfskin in Canada to avoid headaches.
    I got this genuine croc strap off a Canadian dealer (paid $130 usd; no marking on back)...


    As to real vs fake, I've owned both. It is hard to put into words how I can tell the difference, but I can. I can tell by looking at the "lines" between the scales which tend to be thinner and slightly lighter color that the scales themselves. Again, hard to describe what I mean.

    croc straps are expensive.Someone posted the one below in the Tag forum. $500.
    Very good quality real gator/croc straps can be had for less than $150. That $500 strap probably had a huge markup because it is Breitling- labeled.

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  6. #5
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    Re: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    Quote Originally Posted by kontai69 View Post
    I can tell by looking at the "lines" between the scales which tend to be thinner and slightly lighter color that the scales themselves.
    I think I understand what you're saying. does a lighter color inside the line indicate it's more likely a genuine strap than a fake? Are the lines on a real strap thinner or shallower than a fake?

    I tried on a Cartier Santos 100 a few weeks ago, and the strap seemed a little off to me, The colour was very even across the strap, even in the lines, and the lines seemed quite shallow. The salesman indicated it was real, but there was no marking on it. I'm not sure if that would be a red flag or not. In either case, it didn't look particularly attractive and looked cheap and paled in comparison to the alligator strap on another Zenith Chronomaster I tried on.
    Last edited by omairp; May 17th, 2008 at 06:51.

  7. #6
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    Re: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    Like Kontai69, I can tell the difference, but find it hard to explain, and I certainly can't do it unless I have the item in hand. Typically, and I stress the word typically, the lines between the scales are a bit lighter and have a different texture to them. Black straps don't have that characteristic, of course. The thickness of the lines isn't a very reliable indicator. Since they are essentially the flex points for the hide when it's still attached to the reptile, exactly which part of the hide is used will affect that, as will the age of the gator- younger, smaller ones have smaller scales, thinner lines, etc.

    It might help (assuming you are in an are where this is possible) to go to a store that carries high end leather goods, specifically wallets, checkbooks, belts, purses, even shoes or boots that may be made of authentic gator hide. Look closely at several items and you'll start to be able to tell the difference. That's how I learned, anyway- I wandered into a boot store looking for a new belt, struck up a conversation with a knowledgable sales dude and got an impromptu lesson on gator hide.

  8. #7
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    Re: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    You can probably figure it out by asking how much a replacement strap is. If it's north of $200, it's probably alligator/croc.

    I was pretty happy that Longines charged me 'only' $170 for an alligator strap though, considering Omega on Bond Street wanted about GBP 160

  9. #8
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    Re: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    Here you don´t even need to ask because it´ll be obvious what strap you´ll get with your watch. The IRV tag will tell you everything.
    "111! for example is a Mississippi alligator.
    Attached Images Attached Images


  10. #9
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    Re: Why can jewellers never seem to answer this question???

    Quote Originally Posted by omairp View Post
    I think I understand what you're saying. does a lighter color inside the line indicate it's more likely a genuine strap than a fake? Are the lines on a real strap thinner or shallower than a fake?
    The lines in between the scales of real gator/croc hides looks to be thinner (as in thickness, not width). When you flex the strap, these lines will look like they are stretching, kind of like a membrane. Also, the scales themselves of real tend to be thinner and slightly softer than fake.

    Quote Originally Posted by omairp View Post
    I tried on a Cartier Santos 100 a few weeks ago, and the strap seemed a little off to me, The colour was very even across the strap, even in the lines, and the lines seemed quite shallow. The salesman indicated it was real, but there was no marking on it.
    I imagine if it on an expensive Cartier, it should be real, but you never know.

    MY COLLECTION
    Breitling Aerospace SuperQuartz E75362
    Omega Seamaster Pro Chronometer Mid-size 2052.50
    Sinn 356 Flieger Acrylic on C&B strap
    Seiko SARB027
    Tissot T-Classic Desire T52142113

    Luminox 7051
    J. Crew Timex Vintage Field Watch
    Vintage Hamilton's: Boyd, Parker-B, Boulton, A-652, Pan Europ 701, Tonneau, Arnold

    Casio G-Shock DW5600E-1V (with Mil-Shock mod)

  11. #10
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    I hate to open a new can of worms...

    But that Breitling strap @ $500 says " 7" Black Leather Replacement Band with Crocodile Pattern "

    That sounds alot to me like advertising lingo...which I read to mean "Leather strap stamped to look like Crocodile." This would blow up the over $200 is alligator theory. There is an old saying "you get what you pay for"....I really wish that were true, I often feel we get much less than we pay for...I think it really should read "You never get more than you pay for."

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