Aftermarket Panerai Strap Review
Mays Berlin Leather Straps Review
Mays Berlin Leather Straps Panerai Straps
Construction: 100% Hand Stitched Hand Made
Materials: Vintage Style Leathers and Crocodile
Buckles & Tubes: Tubes Included, Buckle Optional
Price Range: €100-289
Website: Click Here
Date of Review: May 1st, 2016
In Germany, there is a young couple that form the two-person team that 100% hand make beautiful vintage-style Panerai straps and other leather goods. They go by the name Mays Berlin, and have been crafting some of the most spectacular Vintage straps around since 2011. While Germany has not been traditionally a hotbed for leather goods, I have had a lot of luck with German strapmakers - Mays Berlin also does not disappoint. They have been crafting leather Panerai straps for about 5 years, but are little known outside of Europe.
Their straps are crafted with the input from the most passionate of European Paneristis, and each strap from start to finish is truly a labour of love. Their straps range from €100-289 and generally are of the Vintage Style, thought they do several crocodile straps as well which are very attractive. I am looking forward to hopefully reviewing one of the Crocodile straps in the future!
First lets take a look at the Argo, which is an interesting name for a strap. I wondered if it was named after the movie but turns out it is named after an Italian Navy Submarine! Anyway, this strap measures 26mm at the lug and is from the Authentic collection on the Mays Berlin site, which is available in two different versions: Modern and True Vintage. Shown here is the modern version, which has a regular screw-in buckle and modern construction on the short end of the strap. The True Vintage construction, which costs about €50 more, has the true tri-fold vintage construction on the short strap, and features a sewn-in buckle that appears to be an Elias buckle. I generally prefer the style of the Vintage Construction, however, saving €50 to go with a modern construction is tempting! And also a nice option if you don't want to spend as much.
The leather on this strap is spectacular stuff. Very nicely grained, and has a great feel to it. Mays Berlin takes great care in their production of vintage-style Panerai straps. Each strap, I'm told, is modeled after authentic vintage Panerai Straps. Everything from the stitch length, thickness and distance from the edge of the strap is replicated as closely as possible to the originals. This is where their passion really does shine through.
One thing I do have to say for sure is that the leather does have that same vibe that the authentic vintage straps have. I've handled a couple of vintage Panerai straps, in various condition, and Mays-Berlin are faithful recreations. As you can see from the above macro-shot of the finish, the hand-colored brown of the Argo strap is done very nicely and the leather is indeed top notch.
You can see on the back the leather in its original form - its the same leather as the front without the hand-coloring that was done to it. The Argo strap is fold-over construction with no lining sewn in, just the way I like it especially when the leather is sufficiently soft. The strap has the Mays Berlin logo stamped on the short end, and no marking on the long end. The long tail has 5 holes punched, which are slightly more close together than the ones in the picture on the website, though I believe this can be customized to your preference based on your wrist size.
The buckle is a higher-quality standard brushed screw-in buckle that does not have any branding on it, but is of the thicker variety that is often seen. I think it would be nice to see some subtle Mays Berlin branding of some sort on these Modern style buckles - some might not like the branding but I think some subtle branding is always nice, especially on the bottom or side where it is less visible. Mays-Berlin chooses to leave the buckles void of branding to keep the designs clean - I can respect that.
Now lets look at the second strap, the Classic 74 - named probably because of the marking on the strap. This is a 24mm strap, and features a slightly softer touch to the leather, which is reminiscent of some of worn vintage straps I have handled. Its kind of like a calf, but with an even softer hand to it.
The '74' marking is popular with a lot of strapmakers and gives it a some extra vintage style. Now the story behind the '74' is unclear, but it is seen on the 8-Day Angelus in the 2011 Panerai catalogue, and seems to have become the model for which most strapmakers have taken this idea from. If you're curious to know more about the origins of the number, I'll leave it to Google to explain!
Here's a close-up of the 74 marking, which is true to the original that I have seen though the strap color and style is different (Mays Berlin does make a strap called the 'Authentic 74' which appears more true to the original). It should be noted that you can have any number put on the strap if you prefer something other than '74'. This is a good shot showing the coloring of the strap, which is really cool. Its a lighter tan with this darkened edge around it that reminds me a bit of coffee staining - in a good way, though appears slightly lighter than the pictures on the website. Still incredibly beautiful in color though.
Take a look at the edge work and sandwich construction of the Classic 74. There appears to be a third layer in between the foldover layers that is darker as you can see from the side shot. I like how the edge finish was done on this strap, with the edges darkened a bit with some color between it was burnished.. giving it a unique look. Mays Berlin calls this a Vintage Edge finish, and it looks great. This coloring carries on to the keepers, and match up really well with the strap - lots of great attention to detail here that creates a product with tons of character and is very polished.
As you can see from the picture above, this strap also is not colored on the back side. The leather exhibits a very soft hand and is even more comfortable than the Argo. Stitching is straight and uniform on both straps, which is always nice but quite frankly expected especially at just about any price range. Surprisingly, the pricing of these straps is incredibly competitive, with many models coming in well under $200USD excluding VAT for buyers outside of the EU.
In closing, I'm in love with these straps. They're incredibly well-made and Mays and Anna (the strapmakers) are two very passionate and professional individuals. Mays Berlin doesn't seem too well-known in North America and I think they provide an excellent alternative to many of the other popular premium strapmakers out there. As one might say, they're big in Europe, but I think they're a bit of a hidden gem for us in North America. I will be wearing these two straps a lot!
Keeper Type: 1 Fixed, 1 Floating
Stitch Color: Khaki
Edge Finish: Used Edges
Price: €200.84 (Excl. Tax)
Model: Classic 74
Keeper Type: 1 Fixed, 1 Floating
Stitch Color: Khaki
Edge Finish: Vintage
Price: €167.23 (Excl. Tax)