There's only one solution, I'm not posting anything here unless I'm either enthusiastic about it or if the strap maker accepts any public critique I may have. To be honest, I just can't write anything positive about stuff I don't like. That just doesn't suit my character.
Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can only say that I am very enthusiastic about this new alligator strap by Lau & Van Leijden.
New alligator strap by Lau & Van Leijden
Taste is subjective, quality is a different thing altogether. Besides trying to get a general impression of the quality, one of the first things that I always look at is how a strap fits at the lugs. I just hate it if a strap doesn't properly fit i.e. if it's too loose. I prefer straps that are just a little bit too wide at the lugs, as most straps seem to shrink a bit over time. And sometimes more than a bit, which resulted in quite a few of my straps disappearing to the bottom of my strap box. Never to see the light of day again. This Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap is probably 24.5, perhaps 25mm wide - because it fits nice and tight between the lugs. Perfect!
First grade special tannings dark brown alligator
Then let's have a closer look at the material and craftsmanship. The strap is made from alligator hide with a semi gloss finish and a special tanning that is exclusive to Lau & Van Leijden. The color is deep brown and the color of the stitches matches the finish (the stitching is only slightly lighter). The hides are so called first grade and bought from a tannery that also supplies Hermes and Salvatore Ferragamo. You can easily tell the difference, because this strap is very supple and you won't see the edges peel off nor will the upper layer show any cracks when you ply the strap. Trust me, that's definitely not true for all alligator straps out there. I remember buying an alligator strap a few years ago that looked like it was made from an old ladies purse when I received it in the mail. And guess what... it was. Yuk. The leather of this strap however, is top class.
The stitching is perfect, both on the in- and outside
Another sign of quality - at least in my opinion - is the stitching, which again is perfect. If you buy a vintage style looking ammo strap you may think it's cool that it looks like it was stitched by a drunken sailor - but this type of alligator strap has to look classy. So nice and straight stitches all the way please. Good job again. This particular strap comes with a sewn-in polished steel Pre Vendome style buckle. I don't know if the strap can be ordered with e.g. brushed steel buckles. Nothing to complain regarding the buckle either.
Mounted on a Panerai PAM000
So is there absolutely nothing to whine about? Yes there is, I have to send it back ;) This strap is certainly very high on my strap wish list as of now!
You can contact Lau & Van Leijden by e-mail for further information: email@example.com. As far as I know, prices will be in the 180-200 Euro range, which is not cheap but certainly reasonable for a high quality hand made alligator strap.
Click the photos for a larger view
Photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen
Related postsLau & Van Leijden Sienna strap
An overview of strap posts on wristwatchphoto.com