There are few easier or more effective ways in which to make a favourite watch one’s own than by fitting it with a special strap – and Mia Sabel’s bespoke numbers are rather more special than most.
Seven years ago, Sabel was a creative director in corporate finance, until she packed it all in to learn the ancient craft of saddlery. Now she uses her deft touch, with needle and thread, to create made-to-measure, hand-stitched watch straps (from £120, in plain leather) from the workshop behind her home in Walthamstow, east London.
Sabel uses fine bridle and oak bark, pit-tanned and shoulder leathers to make straps so accurately fitted to the wrist that they usually feature just a single buckle hole. They can be straight or tapered, according to preference, and finished with four different shapes, or highlighted by linen-thread stitching in an array of colours (costing up to £250 plus).
In addition to regular straps, Sabel creates cuff styles: extra-long wraparound numbers; others with contrasting linings (first picture); and even all-enveloping fob-watch holders (third picture). She can also replicate out-of-production designs and will tailor straps to suit notched cases or particularly unusual-fitting systems as well as incorporate most deployment clasps.
Ideally, she likes to meet her customers to measure their wrists and precisely fit the straps at the finishing stage, both of which are free of charge at the workshop, or cost extra if she travels to meet a client at their home, office or chosen location. Sabel also offers a mail-order service – but straps bought this way, without a consultation, usually have three holes rather than the more elegant single hole.