Leather watch straps are one of the most popular types of watch straps because they look so good, feel great on your wrist, and last a long time. But not all leather is created equal. So in today’s article, I will be sharing a research I did on whether leather watch straps are waterproof, hacks on how to know if your leather watch straps are waterproof, and will also show you how to waterproof them if they are not.
So, are leather watch straps waterproof? Leather is a porous material so generally, leather watch straps will NOT be waterproof so they will get wet or absorb water or moisture if worn while swimming, showering, or in a rainstorm.
Leather watch straps can however be made waterproof by applying a thin layer of clear plastic or sealant to the surface which closes up the natural pores in the leather.
The only problem with waterproofing leather watch straps is that this tends not to look very nice, makes it feel shiny, sticky, and sometimes uncomfortable on your wrist. It also means that the leather watch strap is no longer breathable and can cause your wrist to sweat.
How To Know If Your Leather Watch Straps Is Waterproof
1. Do A Leather Waterproof Test
If your leather watch straps are not labeled as being waterproof, do a simple test on them to find out if they will be okay in water.
This is one of the easiest ways to know for sure if your leather watch strap is waterproof or not.
Simply dip your finger in water and put a drop on the leather watch strap.
If the water is absorbed into it right away, then your watch straps are not waterproof. Also, if the water beads on the surface of the leather watch strap and do not absorb right away, then they are most likely waterproof.
Another sign is the part of the watch strap where you put the drop of water would also be darker if the leather is not waterproof and will remain if the straps are waterproof.
Another way to be 100% sure if your leather watch strap is waterproof or not is by putting your finger in water and then touching the leather watch strap for a few seconds.
If your finger feels dry after, then it is most likely the leather watch strap is NOT waterproof. But if your finger comes off the watch strap still very wet then it is more than likely waterproof.
2. The Leather Watch Strap Surface Will Be Shiny
Another thing that could help you know for sure if a leather watch strap is waterproof is that the surface will be shiny or glossy.
This is because the waterproofers, sealants, or protectors used often contain waxes, oils, and other ingredients that can make the surface of the leather shiny after treatment.
What these waterproofing ingredients do is seal all the natural pores found in leather with a thin protective layer that is water-resistant.
The main reason for the resulting shine after the leather has been treated with a waterproofer is the buffing process that is often used to secure or finish the waterproofing process.
This is why if the surface of your leather watch strap is glossy or shiny, chances are they are most likely waterproof.
But if the surface is dull or matte then they are most likely NOT waterproof and will absorb moisture, sweat, water, and other liquids.
3. The Leather Watch Strap Will Be Labeled As Waterproof
If you are still not sure if your leather watch strap is waterproof or not, the next best way to find out is by looking for a label or indication that it is waterproof or water-resistant.
However, do keep in mind that these labels are often misleading and inaccurate so they aren’t always the best way to know if your leather watch strap is waterproof or not.
The label will usually say something like “Water Resistant” which really does not tell you much about whether it is waterproof or water-resistant.
The problem with these labels is that they only indicate the watch straps have been treated with a water-resistant coating, sealant, or protectors.
But they do not indicate how much protection the leather watch strap is actually offering.
But in most cases, if the label says that it is waterproof then they are more than likely 100% waterproof since these companies don’t want to be held responsible for false advertising.
However, if you are still not sure about the label then it is best to assume your leather watch strap is NOT waterproof and do the waterproof tests I have indicated above.
4. Your Wrist Will Sweat If The Leather Watch Strap Is Not Waterproof
When leather is waterproofed and you wear it your wrist will sweat a little bit. This is because leather will no longer be breathable after they have been treated with a waterproofer.
Leather without being waterproofed is generally a porous material that allows some air to pass through the leather’s pores. This is why leather is one of the best materials for many products.
They are breathable and will feel like an extension of your skin when used for things like jackets, gloves, and watch straps.
So if you have on a leather watch strap and you feel uncomfortable or sweaty around your write, then this is another indication that the leather watch strap may not be 100% waterproof.
5. How Thick The Leather Watch Strap Is
Usually, the waterproof treatment given to the leather watch strap will often make the leather strap look and feel a bit dense or thicker.
This is because the waterproofing agents apart from leaving a protective layer on the surface of the leather watch strap, also seeps into the leather to impregnate its fibers – which causes them to expand.
So while the thickness of a leather watch strap will often times have nothing to do with how waterproof it actually is, you shouldn’t be surprised if a leather watch strap treated with a waterproofer feels thicker than usual.
How To Waterproof Leather Watch Straps
If you have a leather watch strap that is not waterproof and would like to know how to waterproof it then this section will tell you all about the steps you need to take.
Even if your leather watch strap has already been waterproofed, with time, this waterproofing agent will wear off and you will need to re-waterproof the leather watch strap again.
Since this process is very easy and doesn’t require much, you should make it a habit to waterproof your leather watch strap every now and then. Let’s take a look at how to waterproof leather watch straps.
- Waterproofing Product (Sno Seal)
- Microfiber Cloth
- Clean your leather watch strap using mild dish soap and warm water to remove surface dirt and grime.
- It is important to clean the leather watch strap first as this makes the leather pores open up to absorb as much of the waterproofing agent as possible.
- Use a hairdryer to warm up the surface of the leather watch strap. This will make the pores open up and allow more water-resistant agents to be absorbed into them.
- Apply a generous amount of waterproofing products like Sno Seal on the surface of the leather watch strap.
- Make sure you cover all areas of the leather watch strap but avoid applying too much or else it may oversaturating it.
- Allow the application to sit on the surface of the leather watch strap for about 15 minutes.
- This will give the waterproofing product time to penetrate into the leather and allow it to work its way into the leather’s fibers.
- Use a dry towel or microfiber cloth to wipe off the excess waterproofing product from your leather watch strap.
- This will seal off any excess waterproof agents and prevent them from dripping down onto your clothing or skin.
- Let the leather watch strap dry completely before using it.
Here’s a video on how to waterproof your leather watch strap
What Will Happen If Your Leather Watch Straps Are Not Waterproof?
- Strap Could Dry Out
Leather is a natural product and like all other natural products, it is susceptible to damage if not properly cared for and protected. One way leather could get damaged is when it becomes dry.
Usually, leather will become dry after water or moisture is allowed to seep into its fibers. This is because moisture or water can easily leach out the essential oils and fats that leather needs to maintain its softness and flexibility.
Without the proper level of moisture, your leather watch strap can easily become dry and brittle.
- Leather Strap Can Shrink
Another thing that could happen to your leather watch strap if it is not given good waterproof treatment is that it could shrink.
Shrinking is caused by the water or moisture seeping into your leather watch strap and causing its fibers to expand, and as the leather dries it shrinks back cause wrinkles.
In this type of situation, you’re likely to find that your leather watch straps tend to feel a little bit tighter than usual.
- The Leather Watch Strap Could Easily Become Stained
Leather is a natural product and like all other natural products, it can be easily stained. If your leather watch strap isn’t waterproofed then it is very easy for it to absorb dirt and grime.
When the watch strap is exposed to this kind of situation, you’ll notice that your leather watch strap will start to develop discolorations and stains.
This kind of discoloration or staining can be very difficult if not impossible to remove.
- The Stitches And Threads Of The Strap May Come Apart
The stitching and threads of your leather watch strap can be easily damaged if it is not waterproofed. It starts by weakening the leather’s fibers and when it becomes dry it can become brittle.
This will cause the stitching or threading to come apart, which is very difficult to fix and may require a trip to the watchmaker.
The stitching and threading are what holds your leather together so when this comes apart, you’re likely to find that your leather strap is no longer wearable.
Tips On Waterproofing Leather Watch Straps
- Use a waterproofing spray
- Apply the waterproofing agent in intervals and allow it to dry between applications. This will protect your leather from over-saturation.
- If you’re going to store your leather watch strap for a long period of time, it would be best to apply the waterproofing agent at least once every six months.
- Be careful when applying the waterproofing spray so that you do not oversaturate your leather watch strap and cause it to become sticky.
- If you do not have a waterproofer, you could also apply petroleum jelly on your leather watch strap before placing it in storage for a long period of time.
- If you’re not going to be using your leather watch strap for a while, it would also be best if you loosen the straps so that they do not become stretched or damaged.
- Always wipe your leather watch strap clean before applying the waterproofing agent.
Q. Can I take a shower with a leather watch strap?
A. No, you should not take a shower, swim, or go snorkeling wearing your leather watch strap because it could damage the leather. Leather can absorb water and moisture which could cause it to dry out. Using a waterproofing agent before wearing the strap will help to protect it from water and moisture.
Q. What is the best way to store a leather watch strap?
A. The best thing you can do when storing your leather watch straps for a long period of time is to apply a waterproofing agent at least once every six months. You could also store your leather watch straps in individual Ziplock bags.
Q. Can I re-waterproof a leather watch strap?
A: Yes, you can re-apply a waterproofing agent to your leather watch strap even if it has already been waterproofed before. But make sure that it has completely dried before wearing the strap again.
Q: What should I do if my leather watch strap becomes discolored or stained?
A: You can try to clean the stains off your leather by rubbing it with a damp cloth. If the stains are still there after cleaning it, you can use a mild soap solution or a leather cleaner on the strap. After the stains or discoloration is gone, condition and re-apply a water-resistant agent to the strap.