As a Michigan boy, I have always wanted a Shinola Watch and finally was able to purchase a Filson watch made by Shinola. My thinking was I would get the Made-in-Michigan watch from Shinola with some awesome Filson leather for the strap. This thread is not about the whole Shinola only assembling watches from Swiss and Asian parts, I understand that whole story and my own conclusion is Shinola is doing something awesome in my home state! Bottom Line about the watch body: AWESOME AND EXTREMELY HAPPY WITH IT!
I have worn this watch for a bit more than a week now. It may not be worth the full $700 price tag they ask, but I got it on a decent sale and have fallen in love with it. Of course there are many other options in this price range, most of them Automatics etc... The body is incredibly high quality, the face is very well done, and best of all my wife says she likes it too! This was by far my most expensive watch to date (I have other made in America watches from Marathon but nothing like this Filson/Shinola. I'm mostly a Seiko Automatic and Citizen Quartz guy). The band is very thick leather advertised by Filson as being "saddle-grade, USA-tanned Bridle Leather". The roller buckle is very nice touch and very well machined. I have bought several watches in the past with the intention of throwing the strap away and buying a nicer one right away. I bought this watch over a standard (cheaper) Shinola watch specifically because it comes with a Filson leather strap and I love my other Filson leather products.
After a week of wear, unfortunately the new-car-smell wore off when I noticed large chunks of the edge dressing wore off the strap. Initially I thought "no problem, I'm OK with a raw leather edge on a large rustic knife like this". Then I looked closer at the watch band and realized it is in fact a 3 piece glued together construction with only the outer layer appearing to be genuine leather. The inner layer is quite clearly bonded leather and the middle layer is GROUND UP FIBER! I have seen this construction of cheap leather imitation on very cheap watches, but even $50 Timex watches come with solid genuine leather. I usually replace most watch straps with a leather band of my choice and rarely spend more than $30 for a high quality leather strap that lasts for years, sometimes I can even find them Made in the USA for that price.
To say I was bummed would be an understatement! To find a fiber-filled glued construction "leather" strap is bad enough on a $700 watch, but to find it on a FILSON product is just a slap in the face. I contacted their customer service and the woman I've been working with is very nice but insists that this type of leather is in fact "Bridle Leather". I expressed my deep frustration with buying an expensive watch specifically from Filson to get a nice leather strap right off the bat (the straps themselves are $95 separate) and the bummer it was to find out it was in fact not what I would ever consider "Bridle Leather". The best she can do is send me the exact same band and hope it was a fluke that it fell apart after a week. I asked repeatedly for her to send me an actual "Bridle Leather" strap that is solid leather but she said she couldn't multiple times...
How can Filson advertise this leather as being either "Saddle-Grade" or "Bridle Leather". Both of these terms are almost universally used to in the leather industry to describe full grain leather that has both the Grain and Flesh sides still intact (meaning the leather has not been corrected or artificially trimmed in height). This leather certainly has been trimmed in height and most of the material is actually not even genuine leather! Can you imagine shipping this type of leather to a Saddle maker and seeing their reaction?
(I am too new to post pictures directly, I will post pictures as soon as I am able to)
All of this to say: if the replacement strap doesn't work out, I'd like to get a quality leather strap for this watch (20mm). I'd prefer to match the aesthetics of the body and stick with a rather thick black leather strap. I'd prefer one possibly with rivets and to be able to swap in the roller buckle on this current strap.