Today, watch straps can be found on a range of materials beyond the traditional leather. They have expanded to include non-animal sources, including fabrics, rubber, and synthetics. While Delugs started out as a strap brand focused on leather straps, in the past 2 years, we've started to dip our toes into these areas, with leather-like rubber (our Rubberised Leather Togo series), FKM Rubber straps, and our Elastic Loop.
And these new collections have been popular with our customers, who often buy them to replace less-than-ideal stock straps. This was also an opportunity for us to offer a wider range of colours traditionally offered by leather. The success of our non-leather ranges have prompted us to widen our horizons, and to explore other materials and types of straps that we could innovate on, and bring to market.
Our next introduction, ironically, needs no introduction. Hook-and-loop fastening (commonly called Velcro, although it should be noted that Velcro is a trademarked brand of products) have existed in many products, and you probably use them around in your everyday life. Straps with hook-and-loop fastening are fairly mainstream in the smartwatch category, due to the sportier vibe of the strap that matches better with a more active lifestyle. But where are the options for watch lovers, with its myriad of advantages?
And that's where we come in. We wanted the general watch enthusiast to have the opportunity to wear hook-and-loop straps on whatever watches they might have. And in typical Delugs fashion, we had to make sure that our take on the hook-and-loop strap stands up to the stringent quality requirement that our customers have come to expect from Delugs, and that we offered the straps in a range of different options.
Introducing, the Delcro.
The Delcro is a elasticised fabric strap that secures via a hook-and-loop fastening, and it's one-size-fits-all.
Designed with comfort and convenience in mind, the Delcro is crafted with a soft, comfortable fabric that feels gentle against your skin. The first impression you'll get after touching the Delcro is just how soft the material is. We've been so used to stiff fabric, that this feels almost illegal! The Delcro is designed to ensure a pleasant wearing experience all day long, whether you're in a cool and dry climate, or in a hot and humid environment. In fact, you'll likely forget that you're even wearing a strap!
The Delcro is a truly one-size-fits-all solution. The hook surface is present on one end of the Delcro, while the loop surface covers the entire length of the strap, so you can secure the Delcro along any point of the strap. Seamless, infinite adjustability of the hook-and-loop mechanism eliminates the need to worry about strap sizes. When you're on the move, and you want to adjust the strap tighter or looser to fit your upcoming activity, just open, adjust, and close!
At launch (Dec 2023), the Delcro is available in 12 different colours, in 20mm lug width. We will be introducing more colours and widths in the months to come.
The development journey for the Delcro started by first looking at the landscape for hook-and-loop straps, and asking our customers and other watch collectors what they liked and disliked about these straps.
Source: A Blog to Watch
Hook-and-loop straps found on watches such as Richard Mille and more recently, the MB&F HM8 Mk 2, (let's refer to these as the Stitched H&L strap) were typically paired with a more substantial fabric material such as canvas, with the hook and loop surfaces stitched on. This usually results in a strap that is quite thick and bulky.
Additionally, these Stitched H&L straps are not truly adjustable for two reasons:
- The side of the strap with the metal hardware for the strap to loop around is of a fixed length with no elasticity.
- The other side of the strap, with both the hook and loop surface, is also not elastic, and there is a fixed point for the strap to bend around the metal hardware. If you wish to wear the strap any tighter or looser, the fit just wouldn't be ideal.
So while people often associated hook-and-loop straps with infinite adjustability, it is actually not entirely true. Stitched H&L straps are actually less adjustable than a standard strap using a tang buckle, and are more like a fixed length strap.
But Stitched H&L straps definitely do have their appeal and popularity. Whether it's because these straps often come on canvas material, or whether it's because the look of the hook-and-loop gives the strap a more rugged look, people often associated these straps with sports watches that suit a more active lifestyle.
And of course, one big problem for people wanting to use hook-and-loop straps is the lack of availability of universal hook-and-loop straps. Stitched H&L straps are often made to fit on one specific watch, so if you're looking to get a standard 20mm hook-and-loop strap, you're out of luck.
With a better understanding of the other hook-and-loop straps, we got to work to bring to market our own version, and we took inspiration from the material, style and design of the Sports Loop from Apple.
Development Challenges Faced
The first problem we had to overcome was the issue of fraying. As this was our first foray in manufacturing hook-and-loop capable fabric, there was a lot for us to learn and test in terms of the construction. Most of the common complaints surrounding hook-and-loop fastening is that the loop portion would fray over time.
We went through a period of testing and experimentation to find out the cause of the fraying, and how to minimise it. Through our testing, in addition to the loop surface fraying, the edges of the straps would also deteriorate. We had to change the composition of the different layers, in order to finally have a strap that has minimal fraying even with hundreds of opening and closing action.
Colours were the next greatest challenge. For those unfamiliar with the complexities of weaving, 1+1 does not equal 2 in the world of fabric colours. Each colour we added caused a change to the rest of the strap’s colour. A white stripe lightened the whole khaki strap. A red stripe warmed up a yellow strap considerably. And with the edge fabric colour plus the woven logo colour to add to the complexity? It became a true nightmare.
The only way around this challenge was trial and error. We had to dye the fabric, weave it, and then see if the final colour of the strap was what we had in mind. And if it wasn't, then we have to restart the process again.
One Length that Fits AllThe construction of this strap was a single piece, unlike a normal two-piece strap. It was also unlike our elastic loop, which expanded only to fit a range of wrist sizes. This meant we had to determine the best length that would fit the largest audience, and thanks to all of you (our loyal customers!), we had the data to determine:
- The most common wrist circumferences
- The extremes of wrist sizes
Subsequently, we landed on a length that accommodated the largest possible range - anywhere from 13.5cm up to 20cm! And yes, we did also account for lug-to-lug widths of different watches on the market.
Arguably one of the most important considerations, we had to make sure there's zero risk of dropping the watch when wearing the strap. In our experience, the space between the spring bar and the watch case was variable between watch companies. Leaving the hook patches of the strap as the only thing securing your watch was literally leaving it up to fate. What if the strap slipped out?
That's where we added a plastic tab to the end of the Delcro, that served as a stopper on the strap so there was no chance of the strap slipping free. Along with the fun colours of the strap, we also customised the plastic stopper to complement the strap.
Why did we choose a plastic material? So it doesn’t scratch your watch case when you loosen the Delcro to its maximum and the stopper hits the watch case. This was also a good spot for us to print the lug width of the strap!
Loose Spring Bar - Where do we store it?
The final challenge in developing the strap was the loose spring bar. Because of the way the strap is installed, there was 1 spring bar that had to be "loose", and so it could not be secured with the strap.
The easiest solution was to just include the spring bar in the packaging. However, it might get lost and customers who receive the strap might not even know there is a loose spring bar in the package.
We were also thinking about how people will actually use these straps. If you're switching out of the Delcro, you'll want a way to store the spring bar together with the Delcro strap, so that the next time you want to use the strap, all the parts are together.
We thought of stitching an additional dedicated slot for the loose spring bar, but ultimately we realised that you can just use the loop surface of the velcro to keep the spring bar in place! And if the Delcro is sent out like these, customers will realise that you can store your spring bars in the same way whenever you're taking the Delcro off.
Where would we take the Delcro collection? There's a few avenues:
- We already have more colours, patterns and lug widths in production that you'll see in the coming months!
- Could the Delcro be modified to be used with watches that has fixed lugs, such as the Tudor FXD? Possibly!
- We're exploring the possibility of a higher end version of the Delcro, that integrates with leather / canvas.
If you have any other suggestions, please let us know! We always welcome good ideas from the community on how we can further improve on our products.
At Delugs, we always try to innovate and bring new products to the watch community, and to improve the way that we wear and style our watches. This often comes with risks such as developmental challenges, and the uphill task of changing consumer's wearing habits, and to educate consumers on how the product is to be used. We faced this problem with the Elastic Loop, when we had to educate consumers about the pros of a fixed length elastic strap, and also deal with the challenges regarding incorrect sizing.
With the Delcro, we are again introducing a new type of strap that's not commonly seen, especially in the luxury watch segment. We've already faced our share of challenges in bringing the Delcro to market, and we'll likely face more challenges as more people get to experience and use the strap.
But it's all worth it, because we know that many of you will love the Delcro. Our team at Delugs has been testing the strap for a while now, and we're all really excited to finally see this strap on the wrist of our customers worldwide!