Today we will take a look at something that I wanted to get my hands on for ages. And it is Cork (yes, the same material you see in corks from wine bottles) watch strap from Museu do Relógio.
So I searched where I can get one. As I remember that I saw a post in worn&wound with a watch with cork strap, but it wasn’t mentioned anywhere. I found only a couple of brands who make them, but the most interesting was the cork strap from Museu do Relógio. Which is a watch museum in Portugal who also makes straps and limited edition watches too. So here is a bit info/history on Museu do Relógio.
“It all started in 1972 when António Tavares d’Almeida (1948-2012), the founder, received from his grandparents three broken pocket watches. Since then, he looked for watches across the country and the world, in order to restore and increase the collection.
In 1995 he opened his collection to the public and since then more than 400 broken watches have been donated to the museum, all restored by his watchmakers and shown to the visitors.
In December 2011 he opened a new watch museum in Évora -UNESCO city 100kms north of Serpa-(Museu do Relógio – Pólo de Évora) and the collection was split between the two museums.
Today, his son Eugénio, the current director of the museum, continues devoted to the museum, trying to restore not only his watches but also the ones that are donated to the museum.
A collection of over 2.500 watches and clocks dating from 1630 till the present day (clocks, pocket watches, wrist watches, among others).
The Watch Museum is the only one of its kind in the whole Iberian peninsula. It occupies ten rooms of an old convent built in the 16th century, in the heart of Serpa’s historic centre. The museum also offers a small garden, a bar and a library with over 600 themed books.
The Museum for his self-reliance has three major revenues activities: besides the permanent exhibition, the museum has a very well quoted Restoration Workshop for antique clocks and watches. At the shop, you can find exclusive items, including mechanical wrist watches designed and produced annually by the Museum, in tribute to the main cities of Portugal and also straps, most notably the strap made from cork.”
So the Museu do Relogio (“Watch Museum”) in Alentejo, Portugal, produces and sells these straps out of its gift shop, with its revenue benefiting the museum. So when you buy straps or their watches you support the museum.
The cork for straps is sourced from within Portugal, where it is a native product (over 50% of the world’s cork comes from Portugal). Cork comes from the bark of the Cork Oak tree and is 100% genuine cork. The final Cork is treated to be as durable as leather. It’s water and sweat resistant, lightweight and very silky on the wrist, it has a soft and warm texture. Is washable in case of stains (only with a damp cloth or soft brush and soap ) is also Hypo-Allergenic (0% in 100 users felt any reaction) and a sustainable certified “Green” material. Interestingly production of cork does not destroy trees. After pulling the cork, the cork tree performs a self-regeneration process that has never been seen in any other forest species.
The straps come in 3 different variants. Standard, Panerai style and “Made by you”. The standard is as you understand nothing special, just a regular strap. It comes in sizes from 8mm to 26mm and comes in natural cork colour or darkened brown colour. And costs 25 euros. All standard straps come with a standard buckle. The strap we are taking a look today is actually standard. The Panerai style strap comes in only natural colour, sizes are 18mm to 26mm. From what I can see on pictures it also looks thicker and comes with Panerai style buckle. This strap costs 35euros. And the final version is “Made by you” which allows you to customize your strap from bottom to top. Any customization has an additional cost of 5 euros to the 25euros at the start. You can have special cut, any colour option, pyrography, cork pattern of your choice, colourful stitching, perforated cork and even nato strap. So you can customize your strap in almost any way you want, that is really cool because you can get something unique. And the prices are really good. I saw some other companies selling cork straps as high as 100euros, but here you can get a unique product, handmade and also supporting the Museu do Relogio.
So let’s take a look at the strap that Museu do Relógio sent me. By the way thanks to Marta from their customer service for giving a lot of info on the brand and for kindly providing this strap for me to review.
When I saw the envelope from Museu do Relógio in my mail box I was super excited and immediately opened it. And here was the strap. And I already knew on which watch I will be putting it on because a day before I got the Done Watches Mechanica in with that beautiful ETA-6497 movement. You can read a full review of that watch on my blog. First impressions when I got it in my hands was that how soft it is. I thought it would be much stiffer and wouldn’t feel as soft as this. Also, I wasn’t expecting how durable the cork would feel.
So I put the strap on the Done Watches Mechanica and wore it on this strap for about 1 month. The strap really feels nice on the wrist. It immediately got broken in and wrapped the wrist nicely. And after one month it doesn’t show any wear marks at all. Leather would already have wear marks all over it. Not that I don’t like some wear marks on my leather straps. But yeah, the cork strap is very durable. Also, it was summer when I wore it, and usually it is not recommended to wear leather, because sweat and moisture ruining leather, but the cork strap felt really nice and ventilated. Usually, my wrist sweat when I wear a watch with a leather strap in summer, but with cork strap, I felt good. So this is also a perfect summer watch strap, that means you don’t need rubber or nato strap to wear your watch in summer.
The stitching and finishing on these straps are done by hand and it is done very good. The strap has no branding, that in my opinion is wrong, they should put at least some branding under the strap, they should be proud of what they are making. The buckle is also unsigned in polished finishing. The buckle is actually pretty good.
Overall the strap is a steal for 25euros, even when you can customize the strap it is a steal. It is a very affordable strap for what it is. So guys, if you are reading this article, go get one. Because these straps many other brands are selling from 50-100euros. But this is so affordable and you are doing a good job by buying one, as you contribute to Museu do Relógio staying on a float for people to enjoy and know more about the history of watches.