So a while back I purchased a grail watch for me, the Zenith El Primero in 38mm, and I immediately pulled it off the stock black crocodile strap and put it on a brown hunter racing strap from Fluco. I purchased that strap through Holbens and had a great feeling with the strap on the El Primero. As I bonded with the Zenith more and more I wanted to branch out and find something a bit more unique. I wanted to find a blue rally style strap in order to try and pull out the blue 6 o'clock sub dial; however, this is where I ran into a problem. I couldn't find one! I especially couldn't find one in the Zenith's 19mm lug width size! Being that I had a good experience with Holbens and Fluco I decided to reach out to them and see if Fluco would be interested in making a blue version of their Hunter Racing strap in a blue 19mm size. After a few messages back and forth it was decided, a blue Hunter Racing would be made! Holbens was kind enough to send me one of the straps to try out on my Zenith so I figured I would write up a little review on here for them, with some pictures.
Lets start out by seeing what Fluco and Holbens has to say about the strap and its dimensions. The strap can be ordered in 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22mm.
- From Fluco, a German company founded in 1952.
- Made in Germany from shrunken cowhide leather.
- Tonal gradations and rugged contrast stitching create a rustic feel.
- Light beige stitching color.
- Rally-style perforated pinhole design.
- 3.65mm thick.
- Piece length 120mm / 80mm excluding buckle.
- Total length 7-7/8" (200mm) excluding buckle.
- Perfect for sports, pilot/aviator or chronograph watches.
- Includes one free pair of strong, seamless double-flange stainless steel spring bars
So when I received the strap I decided I wanted to wear it for a bit and see how it felt and fit on the Zenith before I wrote something up for you all. Before I fit the strap to the head I took some measurements to give you guys some ideas. Now, my strap was ordered in the 19mm size so keep that in mind when looking at these measurements. The width at the spring bar holes came in at 18.61mm which is just a hair under the advertised 19mm so no worries between the lugs for spacing. The thickness of the strap came in at 4.02mm, which is slightly thicker than the 3.65mm that is advertised. The total length came in at 78mm and 117mm on each respective end. On the buckle end is comes in at 16.04mm which is right in line with Fluco's statement of 19mm with a 3mm taper to 16mm. When you are dealing with natural products, like the cowhide this strap is made from, I would imagine it is difficult to get exact dimensions every single time.
STITCHING AND BUCKLES
The strap, being a rally inspired strap, has the standard pinhole design which adds to the texture of the strap along with the natural grain which can been seen when aged a bit. The buckle that comes on the Hunter Racing strap is your standard chrome. The buckle goes well with the nature of the strap and head of the Zenith. The strap does have two keepers, one stitched in place and one free floating, which provides a nice touch and feeling of security when looping the strap through it. The strap does have numerous areas with stitching, both for aesthetics and strength. It has single loop at the lug end as well as at the buckle end. These provide a nice touch and sporty feel to the strap as well as make you feel like the strap is tough and ready for a day at the race track. Over all the stitching and buckle are standard affair, nothing amazing to write home about; however, it goes with the purpose of the strap nicely and it just fits the design.
JTM00432 by HpiRally, on Flickr
JTM00446 by HpiRally, on Flickr
JTM00434 by HpiRally, on Flickr
JTM00430 by HpiRally, on Flickr
LEATHER AND WEARABILITY
Holbens states this strap is made from shrunken cowhide leather. How does cowhide rank for wearability? It isn't as soft or plush as Horween in my opinion but it does wear very nicely. The cowhide feels tough which makes sense for a strap of this nature. One of my only gripes with the strap is the thickness at 4.02mm. The thickness combines with the cowhide makes for the strap to be very stiff at first. It does break in nicely and wears very comfortable but, as a personal preference, I wish the strap came in around the 3.25mm mark. That, in my amateur opinion, would make the strap still sporty and tough feeling but increase the moldability and comfort a touch. The 4mm size feels a bit thick for the Zenith's 38mm size but it could be perfect on the 42mm. My wrist size is just a hair under 7" and so on this strap I am comfortably on the 2nd to last hole and if I want it to sit a bit snug I am on the last hole. I would say you could be a 6.75" wrist and wear this strap; however, any smaller than that I would proceed with caution. The strap wears very nicely on the wrist and is comfortable. There is no second layer on the skin side of the strap and the underside is rough. Is this something you notice when wearing it? No. Is this something that is acceptable in a strap of this price point? In my opinion yes. The shade of blue is a hair brighter than the 6 subdial on the Zenith so the match is not perfect. In certain lighting conditions it is very close. At first I was sad it didn't match perfectly; however, as my wife pointed out, any darker and the strap would just look black so the brighter blue is a nice sporty and different touch. Thanks Mrs. Geology Rocks! The side of the strap does not appear to finished off and sealed with a layer of wax so definitely tread lightly around water. The leather it self is very nice and has a solid feel to it. The aging is nice and gives a small retro feeling to me. It has a nice marbelization look to go along with the pinholes and stitching.
JTM00436 by HpiRally, on Flickr
JTM00437 by HpiRally, on Flickr
JTM00441 by HpiRally, on Flickr
JTM00442 by HpiRally, on Flickr
In the end this strap fits the sporty design and feel it is aimed to go after. There are a few things I would I like to see a bit different, like the thickness and side sealing, but over all this strap is excellent. It is comfortable, looks cool, fits the sporty racing theme, and is a fun unique color. I also have not found a single rally racing style strap in blue elsewhere so Fluco really went out there for this one and I commend them for that! At $42, I don't think you could go wrong. I have 3 of their straps and I have grown to enjoy every one for what it is.
If you made it this far thanks for reading. If you find yourself wanting to pick up one of these straps go to Holbens. It coms in black, tobacco color, brown, green and now this blue. I am very happy with mine and I think you would be too!