Strap Review: Vintager Straps 24mm Metta Catherina - Watch Freeks


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Old 09-05-2012, 02:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Reviewer: Machine Head

Strap being reviewed: Vintager Straps 24mm Metta Catherina

Company Website: http://www.vintagerstraps.com/

Company FAQ: http://www.vintagerstraps.com/zhomehtml/faq.html

About: 100% handmade straps in the Napa Valley USA by Micah

Contact Info: [email protected]

Strap Description: http://www.vintagerstraps.com/zstraphtml/mett.html

From the Micah’s web site:

In 1786 the cargo ship Metta Catherina sank in England's Plymouth Sound with a full cargo including this highly prized Russian leather. In 1973 the ship was discovered by a local English diving club and excavations began. Now, over 220 years after the Metta Catherina sank, I am offering this incredible leather as my Metta strap.

At 3.5mm thick with two floating keepers and a soft backing leather this strap is built for comfort. A deep mahogany color compliments the light cross hatching for which this leather is known. At the time the Metta Catherina sank this leather was desired the world over because of it's wonderful character and quality, none of which has been lost in the intervening 220+ years. My Metta hides are grade A, the best quality recovered from the wreck of the Metta Catherina. This is an amazing piece of history that makes for an amazing strap. [/i]

A short history of the Metta Catherina Paraphrased from a 2002 New York Times article:
In the autumn of 1786 Captain Hans Jensen Twedt anchored the brigantine Die Frau Metta Catherina, loaded with hemp and leather bound for Genoa, in the shelter of Plymouth Sound, England. On December 10th, 1786, The winds unexpectedly shifted, a full-scale gale screamed into Plymouth Sound, and the previously safe anchorage turned deadly... vessel and cargo entirely lost; crew saved. In 1973 the Metta Catherina was discovered in Plymouth sound by a local diving club. As she was excavated it was discovered that the cargo of Russian reindeer leather had been miraculously preserved by a layer of thick silt and was still in excellent condition, as it is today.[/i]

Strap specifications

Width: 24/24
Length: 130/80
Thickness: 3.5mm
Keepers: Two
Stiffness: Medium
Stitching: Goldenrod
Holes: Oval

Buckle:Brushed Pre-V screw in

Price: Regular prices Strap $USD 220; $USD 230 with spring bar buckle; $USD 240 with sewn in or screw in buckle


Packaging:

Standard airmail bag and wrapped in paper with documentation. As Micah puts it: “Simple packaging helps keep the prices of my straps reasonable. Hopefully the quality of my work speaks for itself, no fancy box required.”

Service & Response:

Vintager straps has a great easy to use intuitive website- navigating was not a problem. E-mails were prompt, to confirm order and specifications. I received an e-mail with a picture of the strap prior to delivery and it arrived in eight working days. This aspect of the purchase was top notch.



My Photos (something went astray with the light today so apologies):







































Thoughts and impressions:

I have alwaysbrowsed at this website, imagining it to be one of the “grails” of handmade watch strap making. With the recent promotion on watchfreeks I took the plunge, having not corresponded with Micah before; there were enough people on the forum to vouch for him and they were not wrong.

This strap is unique and does make one pause and consider any ethical issues about it. There was a tragedy and a ship was wrecked. Thankfully no lives were lost. Many would feel uncomfortable about a product emerging from a tragedy resulting in the loss of life- the Romaine Jerome Titanic watch springs straight to mind. Furthermore, should this “antique” be “cut up” and used in such a manner? Well, my stance is “What else was it going to be used for, had it not been for the sinking?” We are not breaking bits off the Elgin marbles or splashing water on thousand year old Aboriginal rock paintings just so tourists can get better photos. No, the leather was always going to be used for something functional and it would appear that some of it was sold off to museums and the like, so there is some preserved. I also suspect us in this community would also treasure such products givenits unique provenance.

So what happened in 1786? It was three years after the American War of Independence and three years before Washington was officially the first president. It was three years before the storming of the Bastille in Paris. Mozart premiered the Marriage of Figaro in Vienna. Great Britain approved a colony in Botany Bay, modern day Sydney, Australia. Yes, this leather is older than most modern nations and is certainly the oldest single item in my household.



Now, on to the strap. From Micah’s little note with the strap, the leather is from reindeer and it was tanned the traditional Russian way “using willow bark” and currying with birch oil which gives its very distinctive aroma.” The leather smell is one of the first things I noticed- distinct smell of pines and camphor, I think. I was never really good at describing smells. But it is quite pleasant and unique. The strap is a deep rich brown and its cross hatched pattern is subtle. It is relatively quite stiff, given its thickness, but easily pliable. The leather is smooth and the finish is matt. It grips well on my wrist but the while watch easily moves- I wear my watches on the looser side. The craftsmanship is first class from the stitching to the individual stamps on the inside to the finished edges.

With the quality of straps available so high, it is hard to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Micah has done just that. It is truly amazing and a privilege to own something this unique that is well over two hundred years old. It is a grail and a keeper.

My second atttempt at a review in quick succession and I would welcome feedback and questions.

Take care



Machine Head

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Old 09-05-2012, 02:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Nicely done. Great looking strap. Moved to strap reviews.
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Old 09-05-2012, 06:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Bro, simply put........your review was badass.
Cant say it any better than that. I love the background info on the leather itself and your quandry about it.

And the strap itself looks amazing. Micah does a great job with his straps, one of the best in my opinion.

Again, great job bro.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Very cool! Thanks for the review!

... Did they say what happened to the hemp?
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Old 09-05-2012, 10:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I just received my Metta. Fantastic strap!
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Old 09-06-2012, 12:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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andrema wrote:
Quote:
I just received my Metta. Fantastic strap!

Here is a iPhone shot of it on my Stowa Flieger Chronograph, which is a 22mm lug spacing:



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Old 09-06-2012, 02:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Very good review! I really do like the strap too looks extremely well made.
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