Run a Google search on "buy watch straps", and you get 139 million hits.
Refine the search to "buy leather watch straps", and it narrows down to 92 million hits.
Further refine it to "buy shell cordovan watch straps", and it becomes a more reasonable number of 490k.
How are we any different from all of these other sites selling shell cordovan watch straps? What sets us apart, because if its made from the same material and does the same function, is it really that different?
The Watch Strap Landscape Today
I believe that today, there are a few genres of watch straps sellers. You have those that compete purely on price - selling watch straps anywhere from a few dollars to $20. They have a ton of variety in terms of design and materials, and you could easily pick a few straps and not feel the pinch. But more often than not, their quality leaves you disappointed as it wears down quickly and it never looked better than the day you first got it in the mail.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have the artisan crafters. High-end, bespoke watch straps that are built from scratch, to your specifications. Most of the time, high quality materials (main leather, lining leather, thread and even buckle) are used because material cost is almost inconsequential compared to labour cost (some of these guys spend years perfecting their craft and that is what you are paying for). It doesn't make sense to make something so well built, only to have the customer disappointed with the quality of the material. Being able to specify the colour combination, the exact strap length, make odd sizes of lug width - these are all the benefits of going bespoke. The only (and biggest) downside is the cost, with the most expensive straps possibly going for $500 and up. Definitely not for the average Joe.
The Sweet Spot
In between those two worlds is what I call the sweet spot. For the guys that aren't willing to splurge on a strap, yet don't want to contend with some random straps of questionable quality. My target audience? Customers that do not require bespoke or made-to-order, and all they want is quality material and construction. They don't need a special lug size or taper, they don't need the holes on the strap to fit perfectly to their risk. The value proposition here is quality material, quality construction, but made in bulk to minimise cost.
Are there stores out there selling in this sweet spot? Definitely. But I feel that they aren't bringing in enough leather choices, or educating the buyer about how these leather are different apart from how they look. There's a lot of unique leather out there that tanneries are experimenting with, and only the niche leathercrafters are using these leather articles. Seldom do you see them being used in leather goods marketed to the masses. These stores are also not offering more choices in terms of strap designs. How about a NATO in crocodile leather for when you want to go classy but keep it simple? Or a natural veg tan strap to patina along with that Tudor Black Bay Bronze?
What is our Game Plan?
"But Delugs is only selling ONE model of watch strap, in ONE leather, in THREE sizes!?"
I hear you. And I really wish I could release all the various models and leather types at once. But the key is in sustainability. The goal here is to scale up in a sustainable manner. I don't want to be here for the next 2 years. I want to be here, satisfying watch strap needs for the community in 5, 10, 20 years time. The reality is that starting a business is a risky endeavour, and if releasing straps in batches minimises my risk to allow me to stay in this for the long haul, then that's the direction that I'm taking.
Going forward, I already have in mind at least 5 other leather types, each with their own unique characteristics and look. I also plan to have 5 other watch strap models and designs. Lots of ideas in my head that I do hope to realise, with the help and support from the community. Cheers!