New Handmade Watch Strap Artisan Alert!Written by Alvin Wong
Meet Singapore’s up-and-coming leather crafter, Renyi.
HE IS A ONE MAN SHOW
Ren Yi, who plies his trade under the moniker, Solitaire, relies on good friends and word-of-mouth to build his customer base which, he tells us, has come to be quite significant. He started by making leather cardholders, but soon realised that his customers are willing to fork out extra for quality leather watch straps.
SELF-TAUGHT AND PROUD
It all started when he was still studying in polytechnic when he chanced upon a Facebook video that documented Hermès’ leather craftsmanship. Finding his calling, he picked up his skills by watching YouTube videos and sought advice and tips from other more experienced craftsmen, trying out different kinds of pricking tools along the way.
THE HERMÈS OBSESSION
Ren Yi works out of a home studio and prides himself on using the same materials that French luxury house Hermès uses for its leather products, particularly Zermatt calf leather for the strap linings, which is waterproof and resistant to discolouration. He even uses the same Vergez Blanchard tools used by the maison.
MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
For those venturing into making their first custom watch straps, his advice is to first examine the quality of the leather. Alligator leather, for instance, comes in grades from 1 to 4, and should not have a dried look, whether with glossy or matte finishings. Another factor to look for is the edge dye. French dye is recommended as it doesn’t crack. “If it’s a good strap, you should be able to wear it for three to five years and it will still look as good as new,” he says.
You can follow Renyi on Instagram @Solitaire.official, or visit his page www.solitaireofficial.com
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Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.