Aftermarket Panerai Strap Review

Jack Foster Straps Review

Jack Foster Panerai Straps

Origin: USA
Construction: Hand-Stitched
Materials: Primarily Horween Leathers
Buckles & Tubes: Tubes and Buckles
Price Range: $48-150+
Website: Jack Foster Straps
Date of Review: September 15th, 2015

Jack Foster is an American strapmaker that focuses on straps made exclusively from either Horween or Herman Oak leathers. They recently released a line of Panerai Straps, which are not even on their site yet, but I was lucky enough to get a couple that he just made. While the name of the company is Jack Foster, the man behind the straps is Matt Crowder, who makes all the straps from start to finish himself. The company is named after his grandfather.

Shown above are all 4 straps that I got from them, but will only be reviewing the first two on the left as they are the Panerai straps.

And here they are in a bit more detail, with the Horween Chromexcel strap on the left in Black and the Antique hand-dyed veg tanned leather strap on the right. They're both very solid straps made by hand in the USA with American tanned leather from Horween and Hermann Oak respectively. Lets look at them individually a bit more closely, staring with the Hand Dyed brown strap.

The color on this strap is spectacular. I always love an antiqued brown hand dye job, and particularly when its done well. There are a lot of strapmakers out there doing this type of finish, all with slight variations and colors. I like this version of it from Jack Foster as its sort of streaky, and lends to a medium-brown in color strap that really appeals to me.

The keeper is simulated to look like an ammo strap, and is done so cleanly that its clearly not from a real ammo strap but gives the watch a little bit of extra style. The stitching on this strap is interesting, as he grooved it quite deeply before sewing it, given the stitching a very 'inset' look to it. The other strap was not done this way.

I would have liked to see screwed-in Panerai-style bent buckles or GFP instead of these spring bar buckles, but at least they are signed so they have branding on them.

As you can see from the back, the Jack Foster logo is prominently stamped across the long tail which is kind of neat. The strap is box-stitched with a straight stitch pattern on the front with the angled pattern on the back with thick white waxed thread, and is quite well done. The leather smells fantastic, and has a bit of frangrance to it that reminds me of leather conditioner of some sort. This is a very thin strap compared to most Panerai straps I have at 2.5mm, and I kind of like that. Its something different from the norm because of the thinness, yet it still has a strength and sturdiness to it that makes it suitable to be mounted on a Panerai.

Overall a very well executed strap with lots going for it. I particularly like the dye job and the flexible-yet-sturdy feel of the strap - achieved only with good leather, which Hermann Oak is known for.

And the second strap is the Black Horween Chromexcel strap, which is a leather I'm quite familiar with. I have so many straps and leather accessories made from Chromexcel leather I can't even count them on two hands! Surprisingly, however, most are not watch straps but rather wallets and pouches and other types of accessories. Chromexcel is a fine leather, and also regarded as the "original pull-up" leather by Horween. A pull-up leather is a type of leather that changes color a bit when it is bent - that doesn't happen with the black variety here though. The interesting thing about Chromexcel leather, and what makes it unique, is that it is both chrome tanned and vegetable tanned and then hot-stuffed with waxes and oils to produce the pull-up effect. The result is a superbly flexible leather that feels a and looks like a vegetable tanned leather.

In the case of this Jack Foster Chromexcel strap here, the softness and flexibility of the strap really do shine through, making it possibly the most comfortable strap I've ever worn on my Panerai. Definitely no break-in period required here!

On the back-side, you'll notice that there is no Jack Foster stamping, I'm not sure why - maybe Matt forgot to stamp this one. Because of that, it looks very similar to the front photo - but I assure you it is the back. The thick green racing green stitching looks great with the black Chromexcel leather, and gives it a bit of a military vibe. Also, while it doesn't matter too much, I noticed the keeper was sewn with a black stitch, not the matching green. The stitching pattern on this strap is quite different from the first, with a standard stitch with double looped stitching on the ends. Like typical Chromexcel though, it doesn't much of a leather smell.

The strap edges are smoothly burnished and kind of hides the brownish color of the edges, which is my only misgiving with Chromexcel leather - that the dye isn't all the way through. I suppose it could always be edge-painted, but I prefer a simple burnish over edge paint since it tends to wear less gracefully.

Overall, two very solid straps from American Strapmaker Jack Foster. Matt does great work, and I think he will be a staple in the Panerai strap game if he keeps up the good work. He only uses leather from Horween or Hermann Oak which means that he isn't cutting corners where it matters most, and his prices are a quite a few bucks less than more prominent American makers. This all adds up to a good value and good buy in my books.

Straps As Shown:
Model: Hand Dyed Antique Brown Veg Tanned
Lug Width: 24mm
Thickness: 2.5mm
Keeper Type: 1 Floating
Stitch Color: White
Edge Finish: Burnished
Price: $125

Model: Black Chromexcel Strap
Lug Width: 24mm
Thickness: 3.5mm
Keeper Type: 1 Floating
Stitch Color: Racing Green
Edge Finish: Burnished
Price: $105