There’s a lot to consider when you’re in the market for a new wood watch. What kind of design aesthetic are you interested in? Does it need to have any extra features? Are you leaning towards a more traditional quartz movement or would you prefer a mechanical option instead? All of these questions (and many more) should definitely be considered before pulling the trigger and giving your credit card a workout it definitely didn’t sign up for.
But there’s something else extremely important that people often forget to think about until they’re strapping their watch on for the first time, and we don’t want you to make the same mistake: what kind of band do you want? Normally, you have the option of either wood links or a leather band － both of which offer their own fair share of pros and cons. They each have their place, but what about for you? That will totally depend on your priorities, so here’s a quick breakdown of how both watch band options stack up in a few of the most essential categories.
If you’re looking at wood watches, odds are good that sustainability is important to you, and that is definitely something that will vary based on the band type you end up choosing. After all, watch cases and faces use relatively small amounts of material compared to bands, thus the latter is going to have a much larger effect when it comes to environmental impact.
Now, by and large, if eco-friendliness is more than a mere bonus to you, then wood watch links are probably the way to go. Comprised of an organic material that’s both reclaimed (at least, if you shop here at Urban Designer) and sustainably-sourced, it’s naturally a bit better for the planet than its slightly more traditional counterpart. Wood links are also inherently vegan, not utilizing any of the hide or animal by-products used to create leather straps, which also has a positive impact on its sustainability factor.
Of course, that’s not to say leather is a terrible choice. Most wood watch brands care deeply about environmental care and take measures to produce leather components more responsibly or find ways to offset their ecological cost such as opting for chemicals and processes that are less damaging to the planet or utilizing methods that craft stronger leathers so less can be used. However, wood links still remain the slightly more sustainable, if more expensive, option over most normal leather bands.
While we’re on the subject of price, let’s dive into that a bit further. Wood watches of all sorts are an absolutely fantastic choice for budgets both big and small. Costs range significantly and no price tag has really been left unrepresented. Do you need a watch that falls into the sub-$50 category or are you comfortable as long as it’s below $100? Or, alternatively, are you perfectly okay spending several times that? No matter where you fall on the spectrum, there is a wood watch out there that will work for you.
Much of this comes down to the design, the type of wood used, whether the watch is handcrafted or mass produced, and what kind of luxury/practical additions have been added for the user. Although, band type can sway it a bit.
Surprisingly, leather bands are actually the better value pick, the material more readily available to watchmakers and overall easier (and thus cheaper) to produce.
Meanwhile, wood links require more craftsmanship to get a comfortable fit and long-lasting design. And since they’re made of reclaimed materials in the place of freshly felled trees, they aren’t necessarily plentiful in the same way as leather straps. Their cost is then reflective of that, averaging closer to the $100 mark than the more budget-conscious $50.
So, leather lovers? You’re in luck. If your wallet’s a little light but you’re dead-set on wood links, don’t immediately count yourself out, though. Sales can often drive full wood pieces down into the figures you’re seeking. You might just have to be more strategic about when and where you buy.
Price is critical. Most people simply don’t have a limitless fund to spend on their accessories, even though nearly all of us wish we did. But with that said, an attractive price tag ultimately means little if a watch doesn’t have the comfort to match. Thankfully, there’s no going wrong with either wood links or leather straps comfort-wise. Both tend to be exceptionally nice to wear, although for different reasons.
Leather straps are ideal for those who believe fit and material softness are everything. A cinch to tighten or loosen as you need it and with a lovely texture from day one, there’s no “break-in period,” either. They make for watches that can be worn comfortably right out of the box and also bring a lot to the table for people who adjust sizing frequently, aren’t used to wearing watches/don’t wear them often to begin with, or like to quickly swap bands in and out.
Wood links, in contrast, are more of a commitment. Make no mistake, they’re comfortable, too. Yet they can take longer to reach their full potential. The material adapts and changes more than leather, shifting to account for your wrist and becoming smoother, more conditioned as your skin’s oils interact with the wood. Ultimately, it makes for a wholly customized, personalized fit/experience. But that does take time. If you have the patience for it, we couldn’t recommend it more highly because it’s a great long-term investment! If not, however, leather could be the smarter move for you.
A ton may go into every watch purchase, though we all know that aesthetics is the first thing that catches people’s eyes -- and reasonably so. Watches are practical and useful, but they’re also a major fashion statement. They can be a powerful way of showcasing your style, of communicating it with others, and you want to get that right.
What “right” means will completely depend on your individual tastes, though. For some, wood links is the obvious winner while others will see leather strapped versions as the one watch type to rule them all. The only real way to know which will scratch your own personal aesthetic itch is to do some window shopping and see what calls to you.
As a general rule, people who are more on the bohemian side or the modern fashion-forward side ironically tend to both gravitate towards wood links as they’re earthy yet stylish and trendy, while more rugged or traditional types usually feel more pulled towards leather straps. This is still just a generalization, though, so don’t automatically take it for a given. Take some time, think about your usual wardrobe/tastes, and you’ll find what works for you in the end.
Longevity & Durability
Sustainability, comfort, aesthetics, price? All have been accounted for, which means there’s really only one other major thing left to think about: durability. This is indeed a rather hotly debated topic in the watch community. Some absolutely swear by links of all materials, digging in their heels and insisting that anything else might as well as made of fragile glass. Yet others go the complete opposite way and argue that leather is the only material worth paying for. Confusing, right?
In all truthfulness, each side is right in some respects. Like most other things, each material has its use cases where durability might be better or worse than the other. Work with your hands a lot or tend to be unfairly rough on your accessories? Yes, wood will likely struggle to keep up and get really scratched up or damaged as you go about your daily business.
But what if you’re someone who does less labor-intensive work yet wears a watch every single day of the week? Then wood is actually more likely to go the distance, as frequent use only conditions it further and makes it develop more of a complex, pleasing patina instead of the somewhat grimy, worn-down look leather can take on when overly-abused. As said before, it will depend wildly on how you’re wearing your watch along with what you’re doing while wearing it, the quality of materials, and the amount of maintenance you put into your timepiece.
All things equal, longevity and durability are high for wood links and leather bands alike. Any watch that falls in a relatively middle-of-the-road price range should last you several years at worst and decades at best. Purchase a reputable brand and the proper band type to suit your lifestyle, and you’ll truly have an accessory for the long haul. Fail to do so and, well, you might be pulling out your warranty card (or wishing you had one) sooner rather than later.