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?